Outdoor ’16 Athletes of the Week #3


It was quite a weekend for Ivy League track & field, with all of the new records, NCAA leaders, and Olympic qualifiers that were set this past weekend.

Female Athlete of the Week:

Courtney Smith had quite a start to her 2016 outdoor track season last weekend at the Stanford Invitational.  In the third collegiate 10,000m race of her life, the Harvard sophomore has established herself as not only the best female Ivy runner at this distance ever, but also one of the best collegiate women at this distance in NCAA history.  She finished sixth overall in the competitive race in Palo Alto, running 32:08.32 – shattering her personal best from the 2015 Outdoor Heps by 2:45.  The time is also an Olympic Trial qualifier.  According to USTFCCCA, Smith is now ranked #8 on the all-time college performers list and her performance was the ninth-fastest in college history.  This resulted in Smith earning the USTFCCCA National Female Athlete of the Week for Division I athletes (our second athlete this season to earn such a national award).

Female Rookie of the Week:

We need to start using a different set of standards for us to evaluate Gabrielle Thomas’ performances each weekend.  This was the third weekend in a row where the Harvard rookie reset at least one Ivy League record.  At the Florida Relays, she redefined Ivy sprinting by running times that have qualified her for the Olympic Trials.  She ran 11.30 to finish fourth overall in the 100m, and then later won the 200m in 22.75 – yes, both times were wind-legal.  Thomas earned an “unofficial” MVP from Flotrack among all of the collegians this past weekend who earned Olympic Trial qualifiers as she was able to do it in two events where she was also blessed with having legal wind readings.  The 200m time is also a NCAA leader.  Oh, and Thomas was a part of a new school record in the 4×400 relay – 3:32.05 – that is #2 in Ivy League history.

In addition to Smith’s record breaking run, Paige Kouba running a NCAA leader in the steeplechase (9:50.21) that is #2 Ivy all-time, and Autumne Franklin running 56.81 in the 400m hurdles to rank her #3 in the NCAA, the Harvard women earn their highest national ranking as USTFCCCA has ranked them 12th in the country after this past weekend.  The Lady Crimson were previously ranked 37th in the country.

Male Athlete of the Week:

Thomas Awad’s performance this past weekend has also boosted his team into the national rankings.  Out at the Stanford Invitational, the Penn senior ran his second fastest 5,000m time ever – 13:41.77- to finish 4th in a competitive and unevenly-paced event.  The time is currently the fastest time in the NCAA this season.  In conjunction with Sam Mattis’ performance in the discus this season, the Quakers now have a #23 national ranking by USTFCCCA.  Awad already has the second fastest mark in conference history in this event (13:33.29) that he ran last year.  (Note – image above was taken at last year’s Stanford Invitational)

Male Rookie of the Week:

Adam Kelly has improved his position in the Ivy all-time hammer rankings with his performance at the Florida Relays.  The Princeton rookie threw 212-09 to finish 12th overall in the event – a new personal best by almost 3 feet.  He also improved from being tied for 10th to 7th best in Ivy League history.  He still has a ways to go to set a new school record, which is the conference record distance of 242-10 held by Conor McCullough from 2012.

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