In the largest Penn Athletics event of the entire year, one Penn athlete stood out.
Despite all of the hype surrounding the professional and top high school athletes at the Penn Relays, not to mention athletes from other, larger colleges, junior Nia Akins dominated her events to earn widespread recognition. At the end of the weekend, she was named the Women’s College Relay Athlete of the Meet.
Akins is the first Penn athlete to ever win the award and the fourth Ivy League athlete to earn the accomplishment.
On Thursday, Penn’s team, led by Akins, beat out 13 other elite collegiate teams to win the College Women's Distance Medley Championship of America Invitational. This was another first, as no Ivy League women’s team had ever won a Championship of America event.
The Quakers dominated the field in the distance medley, beating out the next closest team, Notre Dame, by more than three seconds. After Akins jumped ahead on the opening leg, the Quakers were able to hold the lead throughout the race and secure the victory.
Akins ran again on Saturday in the Championship of America 4x800-meter relay, contributing a blistering 2:02.33 split to lead Penn’s team to a fifth-place finish in the event.
Akins has been piling up accolades all season, including being named the Most Outstanding Indoor Track Performer of the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships and finishing in second place in the 800 at the NCAA Championships, a race she very nearly won. Akins also holds numerous program records, including the fastest individual times in the 800 and 1000 along with a team record in the 4x800.
Penn athletes sometimes take a back seat at the Penn Relays to all of the visiting athletes who bring along numerous fans. Akins made it known this year that the runners at Penn shouldn’t be overlooked.
In what was an historic event at the 125th running of the Penn Relays, Akins earned legendary status with her performance.