'Fast Times before Finals' yields positive results for Penn track
Penn's indoor season starts on the right foot following cross country
December 8, 2013, 5:36 pm · Updated December 8, 2013, 10:36 pm·
Imran Cronk | DP
The cross country season may have just ended, but there will be no offseason to speak of for coach Steve Dolan.
On Friday and Saturday, Penn started its indoor track and field season at Lehigh’s “Fast Times Before Finals” meet in Bethlehem, Pa. Dolan, fresh off of cross country season, coached both the men’s and the women’s squads to victories in the meet.
The meet may have been right on the heels of cross country season, but it was a long time coming for the non-long distance track athletes who participated for Penn.
“Being a track and field athlete is a year-long endeavor … All the jumpers, sprinters, hurdlers and throwers train throughout the fall. This is their one chance to really compete before they go on winter break,” Dolan said.
“It was really fun to see everybody compete because of the extra adrenaline and emotion they got from competition.”
Clearly, both teams were excited going into the meet, but with the events taking place so early in the season, Dolan was careful not to put too much stock into the performances of the teams overall.
“This isn’t the kind of meet where you worry a lot about the team score. We really just wanted to let everybody give their events a go,” Dolan said.
“The main goal was to have everybody test themselves and see how their fall training was going.”
Regardless, the men’s and the women’s squads both delivered strong overall team performances for Penn. The women outpaced seven other teams, including second-place Lehigh, with a team score of 56.5, while the men topped similar competition with a team score of 39.5.
The Quakers also managed to stand out as individuals. The women particularly stood out in the jumping events — which they swept with junior Jenny Thompson, freshman Noel Jancewicz and sophomore Gillian Berger. They also put in a strong effort in sprints and hurdles, led by junior Heather Bong and senior Gabrielle Piper.
Several individuals also stood out on the men’s side. Standout performers included sophomore Chad Payne — who won both the 60 and 200 meter dashes — and sophomore Thomas Pitt, who won the heptathlon. The men also took the top four spots in shot- put, led by senior captain Jake Brenza.
Dolan was particularly enthused by the depth his squads exhibited in almost every event.
“We had people in each event that really stepped up and had a good day,” he said.
Ultimately, Dolan was excited by the individual performances of his athletes and teams, and he also took note of the unity of the track and field programs.
“There’s really a close relationship between the two teams. It’s almost like one big family where everyone’s cheering for each other — both genders. So that’s how we approach things,” he said.
“I’m excited to get the distance runners back, but it was a very successful day for us. I’m proud of how both teams competed.”
Penn track and field will have over a month to tackle finals and enjoy winter break. On Jan. 18, they will return to competitive action at Lehigh to compete in the Lehigh Challenge.