In qualifying for NCAA Prelims, it wasn’t a question of who would qualify, but of how many.
For Penn men’s and women’s track and field, qualifying for the highest level of competition in their sport has become routine. This year, 14 members of the women’s team and nine members of the men’s team qualified for the prelims. Since 2012, when Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Steve Dolan joined the program, at least 11 track and field athletes have qualified in every season, but this year's total of 23 is the highest in Dolan's tenure.
The teams will travel to Florida from May 24 to May 26 to compete in the NCAA East Region Prelims. This marks the first round of the national stage of track and field competition, and athletes will have a chance to move on to the finals with a stellar performance here.
Senior Abby Hong, who helped lead the women’s team to both its first Indoor Heps title since 1996 and first Outdoor Heps title since 1988 this season, qualified for the 5000m after finishing first at the Outdoor Heps earlier this month. Hong swept the Ivy Heps in that race in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Joining Hong in the 5000m, freshman Danielle Orie was among a number of rookies on the team to qualify. The Quakers’ 4x400m relay team features two freshmen, Uchechi Nwogwugwu and Caroline O’Neil. Nwogwugwu broke a school record at Ivy Heps this season with a 400m time of 52.41 seconds, which ranks third all-time for the Ivy League.
In the field, junior high jumper Anna Peyton Malizia and junior pole vaulter Nicole Macco will both represent the Quakers. This should be familiar territory for the pair, as both qualified for and competed in the NCAA Prelims last year as well.
For the men’s side, twin brothers and sophomores Will Daly and Colin Daly will both be competing in the 3000m steeplechase. Colin will be competing in this event for the second straight season, he also qualified last year as a freshman. Will is coming off of an incredible season as well, as he was the Ivy Heps champion in this event this year.
Qualifying for the fourth straight time, senior high jumper Mike Monroe will be among a number of standouts in the field for the men’s team. Sophomore pole vaulter Sean Clarke was named an All-American last season and seems poised to make a return to the national stage, as he is currently ranked seventh in the NCAA East Region.
To qualify for the prelims, individuals had to finish among the top 48 in their event in the region. To move on to the next round, they’ll have to finish in the top 12 in the region, which is no small task. For both the men and the women, though, such a successful regular season certainly bodes well now that they’re up against the top athletes in the country.
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