JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Howard University women’s 4×400 relay squad capped off Memorial weekend punching their ticket to Eugene, Ore., at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor East Preliminary Round inside Hodges Stadium, on the campus of the University of North Florida.
Seniors Jessika Gbai, Ameenah Saalih and Ozioma Scott, along with junior Jessica Wright, represented Bison Nation in the event where they established a new school benchmark with the fastest non-automatic qualifying time of 3:33.71. The MEAC Champions shattered the previous 35-year-old record (3:33.98), set back in 1986.
“The 4×400 relay run was spectacular,” said Director of Track & Field David Oliver, who competed in the 2004 NCAA Nationals where he earned All-American honors in the 110-meter hurdles. “Not only did they qualify for the NCAA Nationals, but they took down a 35-year-old school record. This can only be attributed to their hard work and dedication.”
With their efforts, the four Bison became the first relay squad to clinch a spot at the NCAA Nationals since 1990.
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“This season, we only had the team for five months of formal training, which put us behind the eight ball,” Oliver added. “But this group made it to this point, showing their self-belief in themselves. They represented Howard University extremely well this week.”
Gbai and Wright also competed individually in the NCAA Quarterfinals, but just missed reaching Eugene. The Philadelphia native took part in the 200-meter dash, finishing 15th overall with a 23.10 time, while the Tar Heel product posted a new personal best (58.04) in the 400-meter hurdles despite coming up short.
“Individually, we had some solid performances today,” Oliver stated. “Gbai and Wright ran some of their best times, but unfortunately, they weren’t enough to advance beyond this round. I’m extremely proud of their efforts in their individual events.”
All-American Landria Buckley is the last individual to represent the Bison on the big stage (2010).
The next stop for the 4×400 relay team will be the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. (June 9-12).
Courtesy: Howard Athletics