Nikki Okwelogu (Fresno, CA) really blossomed during the 2015 indoor and outdoor field seasons. Going into her sophomore season, her personal best in the indoor shot put was 50-02 ¾, the seventh best in conference history. It didn’t take that long for her to improve her mark and historical standing as she did so in her season debut in early January. But how could we have known she would continue to set new personal bests throughout the rest of the indoor season, ultimately improving by almost SIX FEET. That’s right – a six foot improvement over the course of 2 months. And during that time, she broke the conference record – 53-05 held by Princeton’s Deborah St. Phard since 1987 – total of three times, the final time at her home throwing circle for Indoor Heps where she shattered the meet record (51-09 ¾, set by Brown’s Brynn Smith in 2011) to defend her throwing title with a mighty heave of 56-02. The win helped Harvard defend the Indoor Heps team title. Okwelogu was awarded the Indoor Heps Female Field MVP and Northeast Regional Field Athlete of the Year for the performance. Her indoor season wrapped on a very high note as she earned her first All-American honor with a sixth place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a distance of 56-06.
Okwelogu’s outdoor season was very similar to her indoor one. Over the course of the outdoor season, she reset the outdoor shot put record of 54-07 ¼ (set by Brown’s Amber Knighten in 2001) multiple times, with her best throw coming as she defended her Outdoor Heps title (56-10). On top of that, she set a new Outdoor Heps meet record in the discus throw (176-05) that is the second best in conference history. She was awarded the Outdoor Heps Field MVP award for this double win as she helped Harvard defend their Outdoor Heps team title. She also qualified for NCAAs, but unfortunately, she did not make the final. She did earn one last distinction before the end of the year – All-Academic honors from USTFCCCA.
Nadia Eke (Accra, Ghana) has been our Queen of the Sand Pits for the last two years, but she made sure that her final year among the Ivy rankings was among her best. The Columbia senior claimed the long jump and triple jump titles at both Heps Championships for the second straight year, helping Columbia stay in the team title hunt at both championships. But on top of the Heps titles, Eke was a two-time All-American this year. She got the best ever finish for a Columbia athlete at the NCAA Indoor Championships where she finished third in the triple jump with a 43-08 ¼ mark. Her best triple marks came at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where she had to battle a bruised heel and the wind as she attempted to become the best triple jumper in Heps history. While the wind gave her too much of a boost, she finished fourth overall with a new all-time best of 44-02. “It was a good day for everything to come together,” Eke told HepsTrack.com after the Outdoor Championships. “I had a bone bruise on my heel that had been bothering me, so to muster up the strength to get a personal best out there was a huge relief … The jump definitely gives me hope for the future. It wasn’t my best jump from a technical aspect, but in due time everything else will come together.”
Eke graduated this past June with a total of 9 Heps titles – 3 long jumps and 6 triple jumps – and four All-American honors. Eke also left her marks in the Ivy League record book as well – #2 in the indoor triple jump (43-08 ½), #10 in the outdoor long jump (19-11 ½), #3 in the outdoor triple jump (43-06 ½), and #2 in the outdoor triple jump under all conditions (44-02 wind-aided). And yes, she set all of those marks this past year. On top of that, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA, earned All-Academic Honors from USTFCCCA, and was a finalist for NCAA’s Woman of the Year. Keep an eye out for Eke in international competition as she aims to represent Ghana during the 2016 Summer Olympics. During the summer, she finished in third place in the triple jump at the All-African Games by setting a new Ghanan national record.