2020 graduate Nia Akins on her way to Paris Olympics

Akins won the 800 meter final on Monday night. After finishing sixth, May graduate Isabella Whittaker has a good chance of being a part of the 4x400 relay pool.

Nia Akins, a 2020 graduate of Penn’s School of Nursing, punched her ticket to Paris by winning the 800 meter final at the USA Track & Field Olympic trials on Monday night, clocking a personal-best time of 1:57.36. Akins took the lead on the backstretch during the final lap and never looked back, ultimately winning the race by nearly a full second.

2020 Penn graduate Nia Atkins, center, won the 800 meter finals at the 2024 Olympic trials.
Nia Akins (center), won the 800 meter final at the USA Track & Field Olympic trials on Monday night. She will be headed to the Paris Olympics along with Allie Wilson (right), who came in second, and Juliette Whittaker (left), who came in third. (Image: Courtesy of USATF)

Akins will be joined by Allie Wilson (second in 1:58.32) and Juliette Whittaker (third in 1:58.45). Juliette Whittaker is the younger sister of May graduate Isabella Whittaker, who stands a good chance of being part of the U.S. Olympic Team’s 4x400 relay pool. Isabella Whittaker finished sixth in the women’s 400m final with a time of 50.68 seconds. The official U.S. Olympians in this event will be Kendall Ellis (49.46), Aaliyah Butler (49.71) and Alexis Holmes (49.78) with Kaylyn Brown (50.07), Quanera Hayes (50.55) and Whittaker the best bets to join them on the relay squad.

While at Penn, Akins enjoyed a standout career with the Quakers’ women’s cross country and track & field programs. She is first all-time in Penn’s record books in the outdoor 800 meter (2:01.67); first in the indoor 4x800m relay (8:45.54); first in the outdoor 4x800 meter relay (8:33.39); first in the outdoor 1500 meter (4:16.44); first in the outdoor 4x400 meter relay (3:32.12); first in the outdoor DMR (10:59.44); first in the indoor 800 meter (2:00.71); and first in the indoor 1000 meter (2:43.92).

Akins won four individual Ivy Heptagonal championships during her career and was the Most Outstanding Track Performer at the 2019 and 2020 Indoor Heps meets.

At the 2019 Penn Relays, she was named College Athlete of the Meet, making her the first Penn athlete, male or female, to win the award, and only the fourth overall in Ivy League history. In 2021, she was announced as one of 10 recipients for the NCAA’s prestigious Today’s Top 10 Award—the first Penn student-athlete and just the 12th Ivy Leaguer to be honored since the award started being given annually in 1973.

Sprinter Isabella Whittaker runs with a baton in her hand during a race.
Isabella Whittaker

Isabella Whittaker’s storied Penn career includes the school record in the 200 meter (23.18), 400 meter, the 4x100 relay (43.74, alongside rising fourth-year Caia Gelli, rising third-year Moforehan Abinusawa, and rising third-year Christiana Nwachuku), the 4x400 meter relay (3:29.29, alongside rising fourth-year Jocelyn Niemiec, May graduate Aliya Garozzo, and Nwachuku), and the sprint medley relay (3:42.32, alongside Abinusawa, Nwachuku, and rising fourth-year Bronwyn Patterson.) 
Isabella Whittaker also won four individual Ivy Heptagonal championships during her career, including three as a fourth-year, and was co-Most Outstanding Performer at the Indoor Heps meet in February with teammate Abinusawa.

Read more at Penn Athletics.