The Temple University track and field team made history at the 2020 American Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships with its highest finish ever. While earning a program-record 71 points, the Owls finished in third place with six athletes finishing on the podium on Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama.
“I came here with the intention of trying to build a successful program and sometimes I feel like it’s taken longer than I wanted, but we’re getting there,” coach Elvis Forde said. “The expectation is that moments like these will be the building blocks to reach a higher ceiling. All the work that our athletes put in paid off this weekend, and the hope and expectation is that this theme will continue.”
Junior Aisha Brown took home her first-ever gold medal in the high jump. After two successful attempts at 1.72-meters and 1.76 meters, she was the only finalist to clear the bar at 1.79-meters. She improved on her finish in the event last year when she earned the silver medal.
Senior Millie Howard and junior Helene Gottlieb competed in the mile final. Howard earned the silver medal in the event as she ran a time of four minutes, 51.85 seconds.
Gottlieb fell after getting caught in the front of the pack later in the race. She finished the race and came away with no injuries.
“In a championship setting, you always want everything to be perfect and it never will,” Forde said. “The one thing that really went against us was [Gottlieb] falling in the 1500 and getting run over and finishing in last place. She was a top performer in that event all year long and we thought she was going to finish in the top-five. You have to give a lot of credit to her, she just got up, got checked out by the medical crew and then went out and had a hell of a race in the 800. That’s really the only flaw that I can say really didn’t work out for us this weekend.”
Sophomore Marissa White finished in fourth place in the 400-meter dash after being seeded seventh, running a time of 54.47 seconds. She ran her fastest time ever in the event, including both indoor and outdoor.
Howard, Gottlieb and redshirt-senior Alanna Lally swept the 800-meter run for the first time in program history. Lally took the gold with a time of 2:08.80 minutes, Gottlieb took the silver with a time of 2:09.49 minutes and Howard took the bronze with a time of 2:10.36 minutes.
“Because we didn’t bring everybody to the meet, everybody there was of tremendous value with regards to what their expectations were,” Forde said. “A group that really contributed a lot this weekend was [Howard], [Lally] and [Gottlieb]. They were all immensely important because we just wanted everything to fall in place, which happened and made those races even more special. I could go on and on about a lot but those three did several events and did well in all of them.”
Howard earned three medals at the championship meet in five events.
Senior Grace Moore and junior Michelle Joyce each competed in the 3000-meter run. In a field of 51 competitors, Moore finished in sixth with a time of 9:37.61 minutes. Joyce finished with a personal-best of 9:46.37 minutes, shaving close to 10 seconds off her previous personal best.
The 4×400-meter relay team of White, Brown, Lally and junior Mallorie Smith ran their fastest time of the season at 3:44.81 minutes, which was good for sixth place.
Howard and White will wait and see if they are chosen to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships given their recent times at the Conference Championship. The Championship meet will take place on March 13-14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“We’re hoping the indoor season isn’t over yet because we’ve got some people on the bubble for the NCAA meet,” Forde said. “We’re going to keep our fingers crossed and we’ll find out on Monday whether our indoor season is finished or not. We’re not ready to jump the gun and know what to expect yet, but it would be a blessing for some of these young ladies to compete at the highest level.”