TrackPreview_Clarke

Just a week after a record-setting performance, Penn men's track and field sophomore pole vaulter Sean Clarke will look to help lift his team to victory this weekend at Ivy League Heps.

Credit: Ilana Wurman

Penn men's and women's track and field eye the Heps, with an added hop in each of their steps. 

With the outdoor season well on the horizon, the Quakers travel to Hanover, N.H. this weekend to compete in the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, the last meet of the indoor season before the NCAAs. 

The women look to continue their success in the championships this time around as the
team placed second in the meet last season. Likewise, the men have grown vastly throughout this past season and look to improve upon their fifth-place finish a year ago. 

"The men have been amongst the top teams in the Ivy League, so we hope to make a push and win the title this year and set the stage for years to come," coach Steve Dolan said. 

The Ivy League Championships are a true team meet and the Quakers have surely embraced a team-first mentality. Penn will need contributions in a wide array of events to bring the title back to Philadelphia. 

The teams have been continuously preparing for this weekend's meet throughout the season, building momentum and gaining confidence every step of the way. 

"Our entire coaching staff has worked really hard to prepare everyone and our strength coaches have done a great job in the weight room," Dolan said. 

Sophomore distance runner Colin Daly is confident his team is improving each day and will push themselves to new heights. 

"We have been moving in the right direction the past couple of years and we've definitely become deeper in more events through good recruiting and we continue to grow as a team with our hard work," Daly said. 

Daly finished in sixth place in the mile run in his first opportunity at the Heps as a freshman and will look to build from that strong showing a year ago.

"I've been telling myself this entire season I just need to keep moving forward and really see how high I can go," Daly said.

The women will certainly have their work cut out for them as they look to overtake Harvard atop the standings, as the Crimson have won the indoor competition each of the past five years, dating back to 2013.  

However, the Quakers remain confident.  

"The women had a great meet last year and we're certainly excited for the opportunity to make a run at the title," Dolan said. 

Senior sprinter Taylor McCorkle has been especially eager for this competition as she's been limited to participating in only three meets thus far through the season, nursing a fractured tibia she endured during the preseason. 

McCorkle is more than ready for the challenge that stands before her, however, and will rely mainly on her hard work to give her the advantage. 

"I am excited for this weekend to show everyone what I have," McCorkle said. "I hope to be one of the top athletes to cross the line in the finals." 

Although individual storylines are sometimes hard to ignore, the focus remains on the team. 

"I think if we can end this meet with a great team win, it's just going to build the momentum for outdoor and set the stage for what we can do this season," Daly said. 

In the field portion of the event, Penn is lead by pole vaulter Sean Clarke, who has broken the school record in that event twice this year already. Clarke's newest best, 5.32 meters, is only eight centimeters away from a top 20 place in the national rankings. If the sophomore breaks his own record again, he will likely turn heads on a national level. 

The Quakers look to put their best foot forward this weekend and become the first team since Princeton in 2011 to capture the men's and women's Ivy League indoor titles in the same season. 

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