GREENSBORO, N.C. -Junior Maalik Reynolds and freshman Thomas Awad each advanced to the NCAA Finals on Saturday for the University of Pennsylvania men's track and field team in the NCAA East Preliminary Round at North Carolina A&T's Irwin Belk Track.
Reynolds, a three-time All-American in the high jump, was one of four in his flight to pass 2.17 meters (7 feet, 1 1/2 inches). He passed on the first height and cleared the next two bars without a miss. He knocked the bar down at 2.14 meters on his first attempt, but landed safely on his second jump and was one of just 12 competitors remaining when the bar was moved to 2.17 meters. With only four jumpers clearing that mark, there was no need to raise the bar again. Reynolds had secured a spot in the NCAA Final in Eugene, Ore., June 5-8.
Not long after Reynolds earned Penn's first spot in the final NCAA meet, Awad - who was making his NCAA debut - posted the third-best 5,000 meters in program history to secure his place at historic Hayward Field.
Only 12 runners were able to advance to the NCAA Final. The top five in each heat automatically advance, but Awad finished just outside that window with a sixth-place finish in his section. That meant the East Norwich, N.Y., native had to wait out the second heat to see if his finish of 14:04.24 would stand up as one of the next two best times. No one in the next heat topped his time and Awad officially earned his shot at running for the national championship in two weeks. Awad's effort was the fastest by a Quaker since Steve Sholtes set the school standard in 1978 (13:51.2).
In addition to Reynolds and Awad at the NCAA Championships, several Quakers will continue the year and compete in the USA Junior Outdoor Championships, June 19-22. PennAthletics.com will have all the updates on the Quakers throughout the summer.