For the second consecutive weekend, Penn track and field will host a meet at Franklin Field, with Saturday’s Penn Challenge against Army, Manhattan, Rider, Villanova and Connecticut just days away.
While there will be some similarities between the Penn Challenge and last weekend’s Philadelphia College Classic, sophomore Jeff Wiseman sees is a key difference in the level of competition.
“The competition is a lot stronger,” he said. “There are fewer teams, but the teams coming are bringing their best competitors.”
In the Philadelphia College Classic, where Penn officially opened its outdoor season against Philadelphia-area schools, the men recorded victories in six events. Senior Sam Mattis made headlines in the discus with his distance of 67.45 meters becoming the current best mark in the world, surpassing the International Association of Athletic Federations Olympic A Standard and setting new school and conference records as well as placing the senior captain fourth in NCAA history. At the NCAA Championships last June, Mattis won with a throw of 62.48 meters.
Mattis picked up a second win in the shot put and sophomore Sean Ryan won Penn a third field event with a 57.21-meter mark in the hammer throw. Junior Nick Tuck and the Quakers took the top three spots in the steeplechase, with Tuck leading the way with a mark of 5:49.07. The other two Penn wins came from sophomore Patrick Hally and junior Chris Hatler, who took down the 1,500 meter run and 3,000 meter run with times of 3:51.44 and 8:23.37, respectively.
On the women’s side, two freshmen collected their first wins of the outdoor season in Marin Warner and Nicole Macco. Warner won the 1,500-meter run in 4:43.71 while Macco secured the pole vault with a 3.5-meter mark. The Quakers’ two other track wins came from juniors Ella Wurth and Ashley Montgomery, who claimed the 800-meter and 3K runs with times of 2:12.91 and 9:31.25, respectively.
Junior Nailah Hill triumphed in the discus with a throw of 45.06 meters, and senior Kelsey Hay’s 47.43 mark in the javelin was good for first place as well. Last Saturday was Hay’s second meet of the spring season after she, Mattis and junior Noah Kennedy-White competed in the USF Invitational the weekend prior.
“That was nice for us since we’ve been dormant over the last couple of preseasons and we’re long throwers, where there is no equivalent indoors,” Hay said. “It was really nice to have that opening meet, just a shake-out-the-cobwebs meet. All of us ended up exceeding our expectations.”
With the goal of being at their best from Heps through the remainder of the season, the Quakers have been training since indoor season. As the outdoor season blooms, these first few meets will be used for evaluating injuries and getting used to being outdoors again. Sophomore Taylor McCorkle said that after the buildup and last weekend’s rough weather, she is excited for the next few months — with hopefully nicer weather conditions.
“Coach [Porscha] Dobson tells us at indoor that we’re not expected to peak because we definitely want to keep progressing and get faster for outdoors,” McCorkle said, adding that the team has seen some encouraging times from indoor season. “I think we’re ready to open up, get warm weather and run fast.”
McCorkle also spoke of competing in a less stressful environment when at her home track, an emphasis Penn coach Steve Dolan shares.
“It’s the second meet at home, and we love competing at home,” Dolan said. “As a team at large, we’re going to give a bigger effort in the second meet as far as people in their primary events being ready to go.”
Dolan also provided an update to the status of senior Thomas Awad, who did not race last weekend after placing third in the NCAA Mile Finals on March 12. He said Awad will definitely be in action next weekend at the Stanford Invitational but is unsure of whether Awad will race this weekend.
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