Two teams, two vastly different assessments of America's grandest track and field spectacle. The Penn men's track team was vastly excited with a string of superb performances at this weekend's Penn Relays. The Penn women, meanwhile, were somewhat less wildly successful on the muc-lauded stage at Franklin Field. "We don't want to get too excited about it, but it was pretty damn encouraging," said senior captain Scott Clayton, who ran the 5,000 meters. Like many of the Quakers' other meets this season, the Relays were not scored on a team level. But the Penn men were proud of how they stacked up against the best competition in the land. Four men who were particularly happy with their efforts were those who participated in Saturday afternoon's 4x800 race. Sandwiched between Olympic development meets that featured the likes of world-record holders Marion Jones and Michael Johnson, Penn's 4x800 squad put forth a more-than-respectable performance before a crowd of 45,203, the third-largest Saturday crowd in Relays history. Junior captain Andrew Girardin, senior Craig Douglas and freshmen Greg English and Sam Burley completed the race with a time of 7:26, good enough for sixth place out of 13 teams. This was especially gratifying to Girardin, since Penn Relays Director Dave Johnson contemplated preventing the Quakers from even entering the 4x800. Johnson wondered how the Red and Blue would hold up on a national stage, coming off of a subpar race the previous week. "The Athletic Department didn't think we belonged there, so this was our way of showing that Penn's no joke," Girardin said. Aside from the actual 'relays', many other Quakers achieved individual success. Senior captain Sean MacMillan ran a brilliant 3,000-meter steeplechase on Thursday night. The distance runner posted a dazzling time of 8:40.29 in finishing fifth in a field of 25 and qualifying for the Olympic Trials. In the Relays field events, the Red and Blue were also solid. Sophomore Tuan Wreh placed fifth in the triple jump, not just in his grouping, but among all contenders who participated at the Relays. Wreh, who jumped Saturday morning, reached a distance of 52'1 3/4", establishing an outdoor personal record by an inch and falling short of his overall best by only a quarter of an inch. "I was happy with it," Wreh said. "I was satisfied for that day." And then, there was the machine known to most as Matt Pagliasotti. It seems like no meet this season would be complete without the senior thrower shattering his own Penn record in the hammer throw, which he seems to have an affinity for updating on a weekly basis. Pagliasotti finished fifth with his latest school record -- 205'8". On the women's side, there was less enthusiasm. The young team was overmatched in many events, and their nervous energy caused more difficulty. "The focus has been there; it's a lack of confidence," Penn head coach Betty Costanza said of her team's central problem this whole year. "We did not turn in performances I would liked to have seen." That said, though, several individuals did take a step forward. Sophomore Liz Wittels placed third in the pole vault with a clearance of 11'1/2", and freshman Julie Siebert-Johnson finished eighth in Thursday's javelin championship (136'2"). Costanza says both have been solid and continue to progress. "On any given day, they're going to be in the hunt at the [Heptagonal Championships]," she said. Senior captain Richelle Clements also said that she is proud of many of her teammates. Clements herself had to battle a difficult schedule that threw exams her way during the Relays. "I was really pleased to stay mentally tough and put in a good time," she said of her effort in running the 4x200. Now, with no meet for either the men or women this week, the immediate challenge is Heps, but the two teams couldn't be approaching the league championship from more different perspectives. "We're not in contention for the championship, and we're not even going to finish in the top five," Costanza said. The coach just wants to see a maximum effort. "Even if we finish toward the bottom, that's OK, as long as we reach our full potential," she said. The men, however, have raised their spirits following their success at Penn Relays.Comments powered by Disqus
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