It’s springtime in Philadelphia, and Penn track and field is gearing up for outdoor season.
Three weeks removed from Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships, this Saturday’s Philadelphia College Classic will be the first official competition in a long time for many members of the team. Coach Steve Dolan said that while it will be the first outdoor competition for most Quakers, it is not as if the team will be unprepared.
“We’ve been off a couple weeks of competition since indoor season, so I don’t expect for us to be at our very best,” Dolan said. “But in the same way, the outdoor season goes quickly and we like to use indoor as a stepping stone to outdoors, so we’re going to give our best effort and I think we’ll have a lot of good performances.”
A relatively new meet, the Philadelphia College Classic has been hosted by Penn all four years it has existed. Franklin Field will house athletes from schools around the Philadelphia metro area to inaugurate the spring track and field season.
“There had been a tradition of the Big 5 getting together, and we wanted to expand on it. Early in the season, teams don’t always compete with their full roster, so we thought why not invite all the schools in Philadelphia,” he added. “It’s a chance for all of us to come together and kick our seasons off, and it’s been fun and we’re honored to host.”
As senior Taylor Hennig, who won the 800-meter dash at last year’s meet, points out, the first outdoor meet of the season will come in a low-pressure atmosphere. It allows some athletes to get comfortable competing or, in her case, monitor progress after an injury.
“I’m running the 800 again, but I’m not in the same place training as I was last year,” Hennig said. “I didn’t train for most of January because of an injury, so I’ve just been trying to train. I’m going to try the best I can and at least go through the first 600 really fast and then if I can hold on and run fast I will.”
Senior Sam Mattis was one of three members of the Red and Blue to travel down to Florida for the USF Invitational last weekend, along with senior Kelsey Hay and junior Noah Kennedy-White. Mattis and Kennedy-White took first and fourth in the discus, respectively, while Hay claimed victory in the women’s javelin. Mattis, the 2015 NCAA champion, believes his recent performance was a good starting point but not necessarily where he’d like to be.
“Honestly, I think everybody was looking for a little bit more,” the East Brunswick, N.J., native said. “I certainly was, but it was a decent opener, all things considered.”
While Thursday’s forecast calls for a high of 66, the high temperature for Saturday’s meet is only 46 degrees, although with sunny conditions. However, according to Mattis, that is still an improvement over other weather he has seen in past Philadelphia College Classics.
“The weather is always bad. Last year, we were throwing when there was snow on the field. The year before, I think it was raining. The year before that, it was 45 degrees. It was supposed to be 65 this Saturday, but they just changed the forecast,” he said.
“I think it makes the team tougher so that when we get to the warm part of the season we’re ready to perform.”
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