Penn track and field takes matters outdoors

The Quakers will compete compete at home on Saturday in the Philadelphia Invitational

· March 20, 2014, 6:23 pm   ·  Updated March 23, 2014, 8:29 pm

Penn track and field was pretty much snowed in throughout the winter, sheltered from almost all public attention during the indoor season.

Now, as spring begins, the Quakers are set to break out and show their opponents what they’re made of.

This Saturday afternoon, Penn will host the second annual Philadelphia College Classic at Franklin Field, a meet in which the team will compete against several local schools — including the other members of the Big 5.

Despite some solid individual performances — especially from underclassmen — throughout the winter, both the men’s and women’s teams finished second-to-last at the indoor Ivy Championships. But the program has chosen to focus on the positive aspects of the season in its transition to outdoor competition.

Last week, many of Penn’s athletes traveled to Florida to open the outdoor season at the USF Invitational. It was a small step, but coach Steve Dolan was enthusiastic about what his athletes accomplished.

“I thought Florida went really well,” Dolan said. “One of the main goals was to do some of the events where having warmer weather is helpful, so a lot of the longer throwing events went really well for us.”

Dolan’s athletes echoed that sentiment.

“It was a really good opportunity for us all to bond,” freshman distance runner Ashley Montgomery said. “It was cool for us all to come together and have some team bonding where it wasn’t as intense of a meet.”

This week’s invitational is Penn’s home opener and the first outdoor meet in which the Quakers will field close to a full competitive roster. But the stakes have only been marginally raised.

“It’s cool to be in a historic stadium in a meet that’s not the Penn Relays, in a more low-key environment,” Dolan said.

After a couple weeks of outdoor training, the meet will provide another opportunity for the Quakers to transition from indoor to outdoor competition, where they will compete in events like the 4x100-meter relay for the first time all year.

With that in mind, Dolan has largely downplayed the idea that his team will need to work its way back into top form after a series of significant indoor meets.

“The indoor season builds to the outdoor season, so I don’t really feel like we were at the top at the end of indoor,” Dolan said.

This weekend’s meet will also provide Penn’s many freshmen with their first opportunity to compete at Franklin Field.

Montgomery is one of these freshmen and she is not taking the occasion lightly.

“We put so much work and time in that it’s nice to be able to ask people to come out and watch us,” she said.

Despite a breakout performance throughout her first career — high school or college — indoor season, Montgomery is looking forward to the opportunity to improve as her time at Penn progresses.

“It was exhilarating for me to do well [in indoor]. I know that with outdoor ... there’s even bigger things that I can try to achieve,” she said.

His athletes may be ready to go, but instead of focusing solely on results, Dolan has taken a more pragmatic approach to the weekend.

“We want to compete hard,” Dolan said. “But it’s early in the season.

“We want to come out of the meet healthy and ready for the weeks to come.”

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