WASHINGTON INFORMER: Over the past two seasons, the Howard University track and field program has had moments of success at the prestigious Penn Relays and the NCAAs. But none could be more impactful than this past weekend’s games in Philadelphia. The Bison turned the heads and made a strong statement when Jessica Wright not only captured the 400-meter hurdles, but repeated the title from the previous year, a rarity.
In addition, Darci Khan won the 100-meter hurdles against a highly talented field that included the always talented Jamaicans. It marked the first time that Howard has won two individual championships at the Penn Relays.
To understand how this happened, all one must do is look to Director of Track and Field David Oliver. A former Olympic medalist and All-American hurdler, Oliver took over the reins in September 2017 and now has established the program nationally.
“Anyone who knows the Howard track program understands that we have had some outstanding hurdlers,” said Oliver.
Both Oliver and John Branch won the 110-meter event at the Penn Relays and set the standard.
Oliver credits the program’s success to former coaches, the late William Moultrie, who produced several All-Americans and record holders during his tenure in the 1970s and 1980s, and the late Michael Merritt, who coached Oliver.
“I stand on the shoulders of those two giants,” Oliver expressed.
Wright is no stranger to success, having been named a two-time NCAA All-American as a hurdler and a member of the 4X400 relay team last year.
“I was motivated to repeat,” declared Wight, a health science major and a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Commissioner’s All-Academic Team. “It is hard to repeat but it was a chance for me to display the hard work that I put in.”