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Providing a boost to the Penn women's track team, senior JaJuan Gair placed first in the 60-meter high hurdles at the Cornell Invitational. (Trevor Grandle/DP File Photo)

In a lackluster team performance, the Penn women's track team earned a third-place finish this weekend while competing at the Cornell Invitational. The Quakers placed behind the host Big Red and Buffalo in the six-team competition. Though the third-place finish did not meet the Quakers' expectations, assistant coach Tony Tenisci witnessed some strong individual efforts that left him feeling confident about the team's chances as they head toward the homestretch of the indoor season. "We had some nice performances," Tenisci said. "Now we have to pace this and continue it so we're ready for championships at the end of February." Once again, Penn's seniors were key in the meet. Co-captain JaJuan Gair finished first in the 60-meter high hurdles with a time of 9.03 and fellow senior Bassey Adjah led all scorers in the pentathlon with a personal record of 3,493 points. Adjah also finished second in the long jump. In the throwing events, senior Yinka Orafidiya tossed a school-record 54'6" weight and also placed second in the shotput. "Our seniors are wonderful leaders," Tenisci said. "They're really just getting out and showing the young kids how to do it." The instruction by example seems to be paying off, as a number of freshmen impressed at Cornell, vaulting the Quakers over Colgate, Ithaca College and St. Joseph's. Freshmen Michele Hart, Grace Malone and Kai Ivory -- who all scored over 3,000 points -- placed fourth, fifth, and sixth behind Adjah in the pentathlon. All three freshmen were participating in the event for the first time. "These freshmen really did one hell of a job," Tenisci said. "Especially when you consider it was the first time putting those five events together." Caroline Robello, also a first-year, topped all pole vaulters with a personal best of 10'11.75". It was the second weekend in a row that Robello finished in the top spot in the vault. Though the team did not finish in first place, Tenisci is tickled with the recent performance and optimistic about upcoming events. "They really competed very well," Tenisci said. "This is a special group of kids." The Quakers face an important challenge ahead in this weekend's invitational at Penn State. The two-day extravaganza will test the Quakers against some of the best the country has to offer. Though the competition will be at a higher level than most of the Red and Blue's other meets, Tenisci is excited about the team's chances. "It's like the Penn Relays indoors," Tenisci said. "As always, we'll do our best and hopefully we'll get some good times and some good performances, and the placing will take care of itself."

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