While the Penn track team will go from racing in front of over 54,000 fans at the Penn Relays to a far smaller crowd at Princeton, N.J., the stakes will be much higher at next weekend’s Ivy League Heptagonal Championships.
After an exciting Penn Relays — where sophomore Leah Brown shaved an impressive two seconds off her split in the seventh-place 4x400-meter relay — women’s head coach Gwen Harris is still settling down as her team works out its soreness.
Under Harris’s four-week workout cycle, the remainder of this week and next will focus on speed work. The team will complete short but fast intervals in order to keep runners sharp.
“It’ll be short,” Harris said. “They love this time of year.”
And with one of the biggest meets of the season just over a week away, Penn will only complete three full workouts. The remainder of the time will be spent focusing on academics and studying for next week’s final exams.
“The little things are so important right now,” Harris said. “Getting enough sleep, making sure they take their ice baths. You just have to do it.”
Even so, Harris doesn’t see the timing of Heps as a disadvantage — she knows that the Quakers’ competition will be dealing with the same issues.
And though Harris and her assistant coaches have not yet finalized a lineup for next weekend, she is not afraid to move runners around to score points. According to Harris, several athletes have offered to run whatever is needed to help the team.
The 4x100m relay team of Renee McDougall, Kali Strother, Paige Madison and Brown — currently ranked second in the conference to Cornell — will likely challenge for the top spot.
On the distance side, freshman Leslie Kovach will look to continue her Penn Relays success in the 3,000m. She currently sits at the number three spot in the Ivy League — just four seconds behind the fastest time in that event.
Senior Anna Aagenes is less than one second behind Ivy leader Jacqueline Drouin from Columbia in the 1,500m and could challenge for a Heps title.
On the men’s side, junior Darryll Oliver should compete for the top spot in the 800m. Oliver has one of the top times in the nation and is currently ranked second in the conference.
And though freshman Tim Carey won’t be competing alongside hurdlers from top-tier schools like he did at Penn Relays, he still remains a favorite in both the 100m and 400m hurdles, where he tops the Ivy standings.
The Quakers will face tough competition from Cornell, who has won all but one of the last eight outdoor track titles, in addition to defending champion Princeton.
But if Penn can carry the momentum from buzzing Franklin Field to Princeton’s Weaver Stadium, the team may bring back a few Heps Champions.
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