Philly College Athletes at the US Olympic Track & Field Trials – Day 4

Nia Akins a National Champion and an Olympian, Joined by Allie Wilson

June 24, 2024

Philly college athletes competed in three finals on Day 4 of the US Olympic Track and Field trials in Eugene, OR. And there is a representative in a first round event.

The big excitement came in the Women’s 800m that featured three athletes with local ties running which included defending Olympic Champion Athing Mu. At the end of the race former University of Pennsylvania runner Nia Akins and Strath Haven grad Allie Wilson crossed the line in first and second. Their next race will be in Paris.

Liam Murphy of Villanova competed in the 1500m final. Although he will not be going to Paris, he did run his personal best time of 3:36.37 in the event. Murphy finished eleventh, but place is not the story as he ran against a very strong field. The Wildcat runner did not achieve the ultimate goal, but performed to his best on a very big stage.

Let’s look at the details.

Men’s 1500m

Liam Murphy – Photo Courtesy of Villanova Media Relations

Murphy started in the back of the field, which he usually does. He relies on his finishing kick, but this time there was too much ground to make up. The Nova runner had impressive splits of :57.26, :59.34, :56.37, and :43.42. The competition was very tough. The top three are going to Paris. The race winner Cole Hocker set a trials record of 3:30.59 which is his best ever. Hocker had the best overall 400m segment at the end running a time of :52.63 which allowed him to take the lead at the end. Yared Nuguse was second covering the distance in his season-best 3:30.86. The third member of the team in the 1500m is Hobbs Kessler who ran his personal-best time of 3:31.53. Eight runners set a career-mark time. Murphy ran his best, but many others did as well.

Graduate Students and Local Flavor

Women’s 800m Run

Nia Akins from 2020 – Photo Courtesy of Penn Athletics

The largest Philly representation of any event is in the 800m. Three athletes with local ties ran in the final with a chance to run in Paris. Excitement at the starting line. And at the finish line it was Nia Akins (University of Pennsylvania Class of 2020) winning the national championship and a spot on the United States Olympic team. And joining her is Aliie Wilson of Strath Haven High School. Juliette Whittaker was third. She is the sister of Isabella Whittaker who wore the Red and Blue. The big development in the race was Athing Mu falling in the first lap of the race. She finished ninth.

The winning time for Akins was 1:57.36,a personal-best. Akins was third after one lap, then pulled away down the final straightaway. Wilson also sprinted at the end to post a time of 1:58.32, the fastest she has run this season.

Akins, Wilson are Olympians!

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase

Villanova graduate student Lydia Olivere started in the second heat of the race where the top five in each heat plus the next four fastest move move on to the event final. Olivere placed 13th in her heat and 25th overall with a time of 10:00.71. The Wildcat started well being in fifth place after one lap running a :44.46. However, she faded to the back of the pack and did not catch up.

Emma Gee who ran for Temple as a graduate student in 2021 started in the first heat. Gee finished 15th in her heat and 29th overall running a time of 10:12.76. Gee moved up to 7th place after the third lap, but she, too, was passed by the other runners.

Women’s High Jump

Sanaa Barnes (Villanova Class of 2023) and Vashti Cunningham, daughter of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham competed in the finals of the event.

Cunningham is now a three-time Olympian finishing third in the event with a height of 1.91m.

Barnes cleared the bar at 1.88m, her personal best to finish in 6th place. She made her first three jumps of the competition, but did not on her next three.

Charity Hufnagel won the event with a jump of 1.94m, and was ahead of Rachel Glenn who had the same height. Hufnagel cleared the bar on her first jump at the winning height while Glenn needed three attempts. Hufnagel, Glenn, and Cunningham will represent the United States Olympic team in this event.

Women’s Heptathlon

Erin Marsh placed 12th in the event scoring 5,898 points. Her best finish in an individual event was in the high jump where Marsh placed 7th. The best scoring event for Marsh was 1,069 in the 110m Hurdles. Marsh is the sister of Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh.

Anna Hall was the top qualifier amassing 6,614 points.

The trials will take a few days off, then start up again on June 27.

Written By: Glenn Papazian


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