Track_Preview_Rodgers_Kimmel
Credit: Alex Fisher , William Snow

And then there were four.

Junior Rachel Lee Wilson, freshman Ashley Anumba, sophomore Nia Akins, and junior Anna Peyton Malizia all punched their tickets to the NCAA Championship after all delivering qualifying performances this past weekend at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

Taking place between May 24 and May 26, 24 Penn men and women competed in the NCAA Eastern Region Prelims. The top 12 from the Eastern region and top 12 from the Western region go on to advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon on June 6-9.

A program record of 14 women and nine men qualified for this Eastern Region Prelims this past weekend.

In typical Penn track and field fashion, yet another program record was broken. Never before have the Quakers had four athletes qualify for the most prestigious round of the NCAA Championships. Last year, the only representative for The Red and Blue was Sean Clarke on the pole vault.

Malizia was the first to punch her ticket to Eugene. In the high jump, Malizia cleared a personal best mark and reset her program record with height of 1.80m (5-10.75).

This will be her first trip to the NCAA Championships, and to say she is excited is an understatement. To do it in her hometown of Tampa, Fla. was an exceptionally special honor. 

“It is definitely a surreal feeling. Qualifying is a dream I have had since coming to Penn and being able to make it a reality in my hometown, with my family and friends watching, was awesome.”

On Day 2 of the meet, Akins and Anumba were the next two Quakers to qualify, despite the weather delays and generally unpleasant competition conditions due to the tropical storm moving in this weekend.

Akins had an especially incredible performance in the 800m, seizing third place overall and consequently securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Akins ran a time of 2:04.97, which is not only a personal best, but also a program record for the Quakers.

For freshman discus star Ashley Anumba, all it took was one throw to get her to Eugene.  Anumba threw for an impressive distance of 54.11m, which was good enough to take fifth place in prelims.

The final ticket was earned by Wilson in the hammer throw. The first hammer thrower in Penn history to qualify for the NCAA Championships, Wilson threw for a distance of 61.34 m (201ft.) and placed eleventh overall.  

The remaining 20 Quakers who did not qualify for the final round of NCAA’s had nothing short of a notable weekend.

For the women, freshman Uchechi Nwogwugwu reset her own program record but was just shy of qualifying as she finished 13th in the 400m with a time of 52.27. Sophomore Maura Kimmel performed solidly this weekend, resetting the program record in the shotput with a throw of 15.91 and placing 15th in the discus. The 4x400 relay, composed of Cecil Ene, Caroline O’Neil, Candance Taylor, and Uchechi Nwogwugwu posted a time of 3:37.19 but came up just short, placing fourteenth.

As for the men, the Daly twins both posted personal bests but came up short of qualifying in the 3000m steeplechase, with Will finishing fifteenth and Colin finishing sixteenth. Junior Lance Yassay was just shy of qualifying in the high jump, placing thirteenth and clearing a height of 2.11m. Senior teammate Mike Monroe finished just behind Yassay, placing sixteenth with a jump of 2.05m. Junior Calvary Rogers tied his own program record in the 200m with a time of 20.90. Senior Sean Ryan finished his collegiate career in the hammer throw with a throw of 60.32m.

Record books have been rewritten by both the men and women’s track and field teams this season. For the four remaining women, the pen is still in hand as they embark on the meet of their lives.

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