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Junior thrower Sam Mattis will look to repeat a strong performance last year at the 2015 Relays.

It’s apt to think of a collegiate track team like a car: If left to sit alone in a garage for the winter, it mostly likely won’t be going from zero to 60 in record time on its first time out.

For Penn track and field, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The team showed no real signs of stalling in its first competitive action since winter break, collecting 11 victories in Saturday’s Angry Birds Invitational at Lehigh.

The men’s team finished second out of five squads, losing only to Monmouth while compiling 131 total points. The women’s team earned a similar result, finishing in third place just 12 points behind winner Monmouth.

Of course, coach Steve Dolan was quick to caution against overanalyzing early season team results.

“[It’s a] building block,” he said. “We don’t read too far into the first two meets of the season.”

Following the team’s outstanding 15-win showing a month ago on the same track at the ‘Fast Times Before Finals’ meet, the program was almost destined to underwhelm. However, Dolan asserted that comparing the two meets quite frankly is like comparing apples and oranges.

“There was a great build up to the first meet,” he said. “You take a little step backwards before you take a step forwards.”

Despite the slight drop off, there were several standout performers, one of whom came as a surprise to no one.

Junior thrower Sam Mattis won the weight throw with a personal record of 17.71 meters, good for eighth-best in school history. Coming off of a strong sophomore campaign, Mattis set himself up to contend with the top throwers in the nation once again this spring.

Although the team generally struggled to perform up to its optimal level in the jumps, the Red and Blue picked up several individual victories in other field events.

“If you’re a long-jumper and you haven’t really been on the runway since winter break, it makes sense [not to be sharp],” Dolan said.

Meanwhile, back on the track, freshmen runners Candace Taylor, Taylor McCorkle and Jeff Wiseman stood out. Back in December at the season opener, all three rookies picked up wins in various short-distance runs, and the trio continued their momentum on Saturday with wins in the 200m, the 60m and 500m, respectively.

Not to be outdone, the women’s long-distance team saw a bit of a resurgence as well.

After sitting out December’s season opener to rest, sophomore Ashley Montgomery ran a sub-5:00 mile to win the event, while sophomore twins Cleo and Clarissa Whiting finished first and second, respectively, in the 3,000m.

The majority of the men’s distance team and various other members of the program did not compete, as Dolan looks to prepare them for the more important meets that lie ahead.

Moving forward, the squad must shake off the dust and return to the track for hard training to get into top form by the end of January for its meet at the historic New York Armory.

However, the team’s thoughts are not only on its next race.

With the disappearance of former Penn track athlete Timothy Hamlett, Dolan took action immediately after break to try to keep the team together, discussing the situation at the team’s first meeting.

“We want to keep our thoughts with his family and him and pull together,” he said.

The Red and Blue will get their next shot to compete together next Saturday at the Princeton Invitational.

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