Penn Relays don’t begin until later this month, but Franklin Field will still be crowded this weekend.
Fresh off the Villanova Outdoor Duals and Maryland Invitational, the Penn men’s and women’s track and field teams will return to competition this Saturday.
Women’s coach Gwen Harris, the organizer of the meet, expects Ivy foe Columbia to be among the Red and Blue’s toughest competition. Depending on which athletes they bring, Delaware, Maryland and Villanova could pose similar threats. In all, there will be 40 teams present Saturday from 21 schools.
Despite this large number, Harris is unfazed, and looks forward to Saturday as a learning opportunity for her team.
“This is my third meet,” she said. “This meet we will be trying to get the kinks out, making sure everyone is doing what they need to do to be successful. We’re just hoping to run some good times and have fun with the meet.”
Besides Penn Relays, the Penn Invite will be the Quakers’ only home meet this season.
“Everybody loves a home meet,” Harris said. “It’s Easter weekend and some of their parents will be here. It will make it a little more special.”
Harris and the Quakers will look to freshmen Leslie Kovach and Margaret Diacont, as well as senior Kellee Hand, to repeat their success from last weekend in the 5,000 meters. Sophomore Leah Brown and senior Anna Aagenes are aiming to duplicate their wins, as well, in the 200m and 1500m, respectively.
Aagenes will also try to defend her title in the 800m, an event she won last year.
On the men’s side, coach Charlie Powell is approaching Saturday’s Invite similarly to Harris.
“We’re taking on all comers,” Powell said. “For now we’re focusing on what we need to do to perform to the best of our ability.”
Hoping the weather will be as nice as predicted, Powell sees this weekend as a chance for his team to go after qualifying times for Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Atheles of America Championships, as well as NCAA Championships.
He is looking forward to junior Darryll Oliver having another triumphant outing this weekend, this time in the 800m. Oliver won the event at the meet last year, with a time of 1:51.76. The Quakers only other wins were in the 4x100 relay and 4x800 relay.
Powell is also anticipating great performances Saturday from freshmen Tim Carey and Mike Brown in the hurdles, as well as senior John Carelli in the high jump.
Carelli’s classmate Ben McKean, who will be competing in the 400m, could have an especially good weekend, according to Powell.
“We’re expecting big things from Ben,” he said. “He is close to a big breakthrough.”
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