Nia Akins, a junior middle-distance runner on the women’s track and field team, put on a show at the 125th running of the Penn Relays from Thursday to Saturday and was named College Athlete of the Meet. She is the first Penn athlete, male or female, to win the award, and only the fourth overall in Ivy League history.
On Thursday, Akins was part of a four-woman team that won the College Women’s Championship of America Distance Medley Relay. The foursome of Akins, junior Maddie Villalba, sophomore Uchechi Nwogwugwu, and sophomore Melissa Tanaka finished the race in a record-breaking time of 10:59:44, besting the previous school record by more than nine seconds, and setting a new Ivy League record.
The quartet became the first women’s team in Ivy League history to capture a Championship of America title at the Relays.
In the Championship of America 4x800 on Saturday, Akins rans a speedy 2:02.33 split, helping the Quakers finish fifth.
Akins has been on a tear this year. On April 20, she set the school record in the 1500m with a time of 4:16.44 at the Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton. Early March saw her finish second in the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship 800m final with a time of 2:03.74. She broke her own school record in the race and her time is second-best in Ivy League history.
At the Ivy League Indoor Track & Field Heptagonal Championships in late February, Akins won the 1000m and anchored the 4x880 yard relay team, and earned Most Outstanding Indoor Track Performer honors. Akins is the first Penn woman ever to win the award.