With the Northeast’s inconsistent spring weather, many Penn students undoubtedly wish they could take a trip down South this time of year.
But Penn track and field is turning wishes into reality: It’s actually voyaging to North Carolina.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will take part in the Raleigh Relays this weekend, a meet that will start Friday morning and conclude Saturday night.
The Quakers are coming off of last weekend’s Philadelphia College Invitational, the first of the team’s two outdoor home meets.
Penn track coach Steve Dolan was pleased with his athletes’ performances last weekend. He hopes that the Red and Blue will leave the larger field and increased level of competition at the Raleigh Relays with similar results.
Dolan believes that last weekend’s warm weather in Philadelphia contributed significantly to his team’s success, and he is excited to get the Quakers down South for another outdoor meet.
“It’s gonna be nice to get down there,” Dolan said. “Whether you’re sprinting, jumping or throwing, weather really plays a factor in what you can do.”
The weather in Philadelphia hasn’t been ideal for the program this season. The inconsistent conditions have complicated the team’s early outdoor training program significantly.
“This has been a tough week because the weather dipped down and got cold,” Dolan said. “So we’ve practiced a little conservatively this week.”
Despite a long offseason for many of its athletes, Penn’s throwers were the standout group of last weekend’s meet.
“Throwing is one of the areas where we’re deepest on the team,” Dolan said.
At the Philadelphia College Invitational, sophomore Sam Mattis and freshman Nailah Hill were able to break school records in the men’s and women’s discus, respectively. Meanwhile, senior thrower Jake Brenza also stood out, placing in the top three of three different events.
The throwers will look to build on their strong individual performances in Raleigh.
A majority of both Penn’s men’s and women’s distance runners ran the 3,000-meter race last Saturday, an unusual outdoor distance for most of the athletes.
Although they performed well in the 3,000m, Dolan hopes that race will help in the athletes preparation as they transition into their usual events.
“We saw it as a setup for this week,” Dolan said, explaining that the 3,000m represents a middle ground between the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter distances that many of Penn’s distance runners will run this weekend.
As one might expect, the Raleigh Relays heavily feature relay events alongside individual races. Many of Penn’s middle-distance runners and sprinters will get the chance to pass the baton around the track in live competition.
“That’s the beauty of the meet,” Dolan said. “It’s a very big meet, but it has a combination of relay opportunities and individual opportunities.”
This weekend will mark the third outdoor meet of Penn’s season, and Dolan’s expectations remain primarily focused on his team’s health and individual development.
However, as the season has gone on, his expectations have steadily increased.
“I’d love to see consistency, but I think there will be some breakthroughs too,” he said.
“With this competition ... we may even get a few NCAA qualifying marks.”