Temperatures falling into the low 20s and strong winds Saturday threatened to ruin the Big 5 Invitational, Penn’s first home outdoor meet of the track season.
“It’s cold, and no one’s running their hardest,” Villanova’s All-American sprinter Carlton Bowers said. “Wait until Penn Relays — then you’ll see a real meet!”
But apparently, no one gave the memo to the Red and Blue’s freshmen. In their first track meets at Franklin Field, Maalik Reynolds, Mason Smith, Karl Ingram and Gabrielle Piper all claimed big victories.
Reynolds set the outdoor school record in the high jump at 7-foot-3, while Smith and Piper won the 100-meter dashes, and Ingram claimed top honors in the javelin throw.
The men’s 4x100 relay team started the meet strong, finishing with a time of 42.04 for the victory.
Sophomore Seck Berry gave the Quakers their next victory, running the 110m hurdles in 15.05 seconds.
Just a few events later, Smith beat out all 10 runners in both heats at the 100m dash, finishing in 11.22 seconds.
In the men’s longest event of the day, senior Chris Baird won the 5,000m run in 14:48, beating the next runner by three quarters of a second.
Ingram, who threw the javelin 57.20 meters for another victory, followed Baird’s win.
Juniors Jeff Seddon and Brian Lynch scored the final two victories for the men’s team, winning the long jump and triple jump.
The women also displayed a strong showing Saturday.
Perhaps even more notable than Piper’s 0.01-second finish over junior Emily Townsend in the 100m was Catherine Okoukoni’s performance. She won both jumps, setting her career high in the triple jump.
In the final event of the evening, junior Kristen Judge jumped 1.65 meters, helping the women’s team sweep all the horizontal jumping events.
The women also swept both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Despite a career-high 2:12.85 in the 800m run, junior Victoria Strickland fell just .24 seconds short of first.
Finally, junior Corinne Rich threw the discus 40.67 meters, placing her at No. 10 in Penn history and second at the meet.
Even in the midst of 13 overall wins — eight from the men and five from the women — Reynolds and Piper maintained that the Quakers still had work to do.
“The cold sucked, but the main thing we need to work on is consistency,” Reynolds said.
“It was pretty cold, and I think that affected our performances, but I am happy with how the team is doing so early in the season,” she said.
Both teams will reconvene on Franklin Field next weekend for the Penn Invitational.
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