Penn women’s track and field returned to the Ivy League throne on Sunday after a 22-year drought, winning the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships to end the indoor track and field season. The men made history of their own, posting a momentous second-place finish, their highest since 2002.
For the first time since 1996, women’s track and field placed first at Heps, and in dominating fashion, setting a program record of 137 points. Harvard, who won this meet for the past five years, came in second with 105 points.
Additionally, the Penn women procured six individual championships over the two-day meet held at Dartmouth. It was the program’s most individual wins since 1988.
Coach Steve Dolan noted that it was one of the most sensational weekends of his career.
“Coming in, we thought we had a chance," he said. "It was exciting to actually watch, though, as we performed exceptionally across the board.”
Senior captain Abby Hong had the performance of a lifetime in her two distance events, winning two of Penn's six individual titles. She captured Penn’s first individual championship since 2012 in the 3,000-meter run on Saturday, posting a time of 9:38.98 — almost five seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Hong followed up on Sunday with another individual championship in the 5,000m, crushing the school record by over four seconds with a final time of 16:24.46.
“There is something about the atmosphere of Heps, and knowing that we are all competing for something greater than ourselves that allows for such special performances,” Hong said.
Freshman Uchechi Nwogwugwu swiped gold in the 500m for the first time in program history. Nwogwugwu finished with a time of 1:13.09. Notably, it was her first time all season racing that distance. Teammate Candace Taylor also placed, finishing third with a time of 1:14.66.
Beyond individual running performances, the 4x800m relay quartet of Gina Alm, Mikayla Schneider, Nia Akins, and anchor Katie DeVore not only took first place, but demolished the competition by nearly three seconds, finishing in 8:47.87.
The Quakers also had a pair individual championships on the field, both in events that they had never won at Heps. Junior Rachel Lee Wilson earned a gold in the weight throw, throwing for a distance of 18.7m. In the high jump, junior Anna Peyton Malizia set a new school record and took first by leaping 1.80m.
In addition to the six first-place finishes, the championship was earned through a deep all-team effort. Many Quakers scored high for their team with second or third-place finishes. Notably, sophomore Maddie Villalba took second in the mile with personal best of 4:49.26. Sophomore Breanne Bygrave placed second in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.55 seconds. Senior Taylor McCorkle sprinted for silver in the 60m with a time of 7.49.
In the 400m, Penn had three runners score: rookie Caroline O’Neil in second, sophomore Cecil Ene in third, and freshman Camille Dickson in sixth. Sophomore Maura Kimmel placed second in the shot put with a strong 15m toss. Molly Minnig took silver for the second straight year on pole vault with a mark of 3.95m.
The men's performance was almost as historic, as their second-place finish was their best in 16 years.
Junior sprinter Calvary Rogers outlasted the competition and took gold in the 200m for the second year in a row, tying his own meet record with a time of 21.39. The two-peat was special enough to make up for the fact that last year, he won the event in spectacular fashion, racing alone in a heat of one.
In the heptathlon, sophomore Evan Lee took silver with a total score of 5,330 points. The score ranks third in program history.
Freshman Marvin Morgan performed like an upperclassman in his 60m dash, placing second with a time of 6.86 seconds.
Sophomore sensation Sean Clarke placed second in the pole vault after tying with Princeton’s August Kiles, resulting in a jump-off. Clarke cleared 5.25m, but could not match Kiles’ 5.3m jump.
Dolan was impressed with the men’s finish.
“Moving up to second place was a great step forward for the program. I’m proud of the individual performances and team effort from everyone this weekend,” he said.
“The diversity of the events is what makes track and field interesting. Both Penn teams proved that they have a strong balance throughout the events, and that is was what made the difference today.”
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.