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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 6/7/2024, Last updated: 6/9/2024
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NCAA Women's Outdoor Track & Field: June 6

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Rhema Otabor, NEB / Photo courtesy of Nebraska Athletics


EUGENE, Ore. — The Big Ten Conference created its own brand of Hayward Magic on Thursday evening, just as twilight hit the historic venue that is hosting the 42nd women's edition of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Within a span of 10 minutes, two Big Ten student-athletes claimed national titles under the lights of Hayward Field, doing so in record-setting fashion on the first day of women's competition. Nebraska stands second in the team standings with 22 points after six events and Rutgers is tied for ninth.

Senior Rhema Otabor gave the Cornhuskers 10 points by defending her javelin title. She trailed until her final effort of the night when she hurled the javelin further than any women in collegiate history, covering 64.19 meters (210-7) to win the event by 11 feet. Teammate Eniko Sara placed fifth in the javelin with a personal-best mark of 55.66 meters (182-7). Nebraska also earned points from junior Axelina Johansson's third-place finish in the shot put (18.24 meters/59-10.25) and junior Velecia Williams' seventh-place effort in the long jump (6.41 meters/21-0.5).

Rutgers Junior Chloe Timberg turned in a memorable performance in the pole vault after setting an NCAA Championship meet and school record by clearing 4.71 meters (15-5.5). Timberg became the first woman in school history to win an NCAA track and field title and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trails later this month at Hayward Field. Timberg's performance helped Rutgers to a ninth-place showing in the team standings.

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Chloe Timberg, RU / Photo courtesy of Rutgers Athletics

Junior Tori Thomas of Illinois placed seventh in the pole vault (4.40 meters/14-5.25) to earn First Team All-America honors, adding to the AA honors she received during the indoor season.

The Big Ten also produced a pair of podium finishes in the first field event of the championships, the hammer throw. Minnesota junior Shelby Frank finished seventh with a toss of 68.40 meters (224-5) and is now an All-American in the hammer, discus and weight throw disciplines. Illinois senior Amber Simpson placed eighth at 67.73 meters (222-2) to become the Fighting Illini's first All-American in the event.

Big Ten athletes earned eight First Team All-America certificates on Thursday.

Thursday's qualifying heats saw conference athletes earn berths into Saturday's finals for the following events: 100 (Leah Bertrand, Ohio State); 400 (Jessica McDowell, Illinois); 800 (Aniya Mosley, Ohio State; Hayley Kitching, Penn State); 100m Hurdles (Aasia Laurencin, Michigan); 400m Hurdles (Savannah Sutherland, Michigan); 3,000m steeplechase (Zoie Dundon, Minnesota).

Nebraska's Hillevi Carlsson was named the Elite 90 Award recipient for the championships. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 90 championships. Carlsson, who studies Discrete Math and Cryptography, carries a 4.0 GPA.

Big Ten women resume championship action on Saturday with ESPN providing coverage at 5:30 p.m. ET.