NCAA Recruiting

These Five Freshmen Men Excelled At The NCAA Championships

These Five Freshmen Men Excelled At The NCAA Championships

These five freshmen men starred at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and will continue their seasons.

Jun 18, 2024 by Ca Ca

For top college track and field stars, this is the busiest time of the year. 

Recently, men and women were crowned national champions at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. 

Among those competing were talented freshmen from across U.S.

This week, many of them followed their performances at NCAAs with another round at the U.S. U20 Championships, while more will continue their journeys at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.

Below, we look at five true freshmen men from the U.S. who excelled at the NCAA meet. This list includes American men who were part of the high school Class of 2023.

By Tim CaseyMileSplit Recruiting Reporter

Tito Alofe, Starrs Mill (GA), Harvard University

 As a senior in high school last spring, Alofe competed in multiple events. At the Georgia Class 4A Outdoor Championships, he won the high jump (6-8) and triple jump (wind-aided 48-4.5) and finished second in the long jump (wind-aided 22-8.5). 

But this year at Harvard, he has concentrated on the high jump, which has turned out to be a smart decision.

At the NCAA Championships, Alofe finished fourth in the high jump in a personal-best 7-2.5, only trailing Arkansas senior Romaine Beckford (7-5), Nebraska junior Tyus Wilson (7-3.75) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff senior Caleb Snowden (7-3.75). 

Alofe’s jump was the second-best in Harvard outdoor history behind Melvin Embree, who cleared 7-3.5 at the 1976 Olympic Trials. Alofe holds the school’s indoor record of 7-3.25, which he set at the Riverhawk Invitational in late January. He was ninth (7-1.75) at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.

Alofe competed at the U.S. U20 Championships this past week in Oregon and finished second with a clearance of 7-3.25 behind high schooler Scottie Vines. That performance qualified him for the World U20 Championships in Lima, Peru.

Cody Johnston, Hobart (IN), University of Illinois

During his high school career, Johnston emerged as one of the best young pole vaulters in the world. Since entering college last fall, he has shown no signs of slowing down. 

Indeed, he has continued to improve.

At the NCAA Championships, Johnston finished fifth in the pole vault (18-1.25), becoming the first Illinois freshman to become an All-American in the pole vault. He finished behind four upperclassmen: Kentucky senior Keaton Daniel (18-7.25), Kansas junior Clayton Simms (18-5.25), Houston senior Christyan Sampy (18-1.25) and Duke senior Simen Guttormsen (18-1.25).

Johnston had some other impressive performances this outdoor season, including clearing a personal-best 18-4.5 in winning the Florida Relays in March and placing second at the Big Ten meet (17-11) last month.

Johnston, who won the Nike Indoor Nationals, adidas Track Indoor Nationals and New Balance Nationals Outdoor as a senior last year, turned 20 in March, so he was not able to compete at the U.S. U20 Championships.

Malachi Snow, Cincinnati Northwest (OH), San Jose State University

In high school, Snow was an overlooked recruit. He didn’t get a scholarship offer until San Jose State entered the picture last March when Snow was a senior. This outdoor season, though, he's been one of the best freshmen in the U.S. college ranks.

At the NCAA Championships, Snow finished fourth in the 110m hurdles and helped the Spartans qualify for the finals of the 4x100m relay, although they were disqualified for an out of zone pass.

Snow set a school-record in the hurdles (13.33), only finishing behind Nebraska senior Darius Luff (13.19), Auburn freshman Ja’Kobe Tharp (13.20) and Texas A&M junior Ja’Qualon Scott (13.27).

Snow also made the preliminaries of the 100m, but he did not qualify for the finals. Still, this outdoor season Snow ran a wind-aided 10.00 and wind-legal 10.13 in the 100m, which is impressive considering Snow only ran the 100m once in high school.

He plans on competing at the Olympic Trials later this month. Snow, 20, has the 30th-fastest 110m hurdles time in the world and the 14th-fastest time in the U.S. this year.

Ja’Kobe Tharp, Rockvale (TN), Auburn University

During high school, Tharp was among the best athletes in Tennessee, but he never competed at a national meet. Tharp has shown this year that he could be the U.S.’s next elite hurdler.

At the NCAA Championships, he was second in the 100m hurdles in 13.20, just 0.01 seconds behind senior Darius Luff. Tharp nearly helped Auburn win the team title, but the Tigers placed second, losing by one point when Florida finished third in the final event (the 4x400m relay) to win the championship for the third consecutive year.

During the preliminaries, Tharp ran 13.18, equaling the World U20 record he set last month while winning the Southeastern Conference title.

Tharp won the men's 110mH at the U.S. U20 Championships, clocking a time of 13.12 -- though the hurdle height was below the standard collegiate height. He has also declared for the Olympic Trials and has easily exceeded the 13.50 automatic standard.

Tharp’s time this year is currently 11th in the world and eighth among Americans. 

Kyren Washington, Santa Fe (FL), University of Oklahoma

As a junior and senior in high school, Washington won the high jump at the Florida Class 2A state meet. A year ago, he cleared a personal-best 7-1, which was tied for U.S. No. 5 in the high school ranks.

This year, Washington has topped that mark multiple times, including at the NCAA Championships when he placed sixth in 7-2.5. Harvard freshman Tito Alofe and Kansas junior Devin Loudermilk also cleared 7-2.5, but they did so on their first attempt and finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

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