Riding tremendous waves of momentum from the indoor season, Penn track and field’s high-flying sprinters have their sights set on Ivy League glory — and beyond — this outdoor season.
After years of sixth and seventh-place team finishes, the sprinters are helping to catalyze a renaissance for women’s track and field. Case in point: the women’s second-place finish at the 2017 Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships was largely made possible by the across-the-board excellence of their sprinters — a group dominated by youth.
Star freshmen Cecile Ene and Nia Akins both took home silver medals in the 400-meter dash and 500-meter dash, respectively. Sophomore Imani Solan set the school record in the 200 with a blazing 23.80 and placed third in the event. Junior Taylor McCorkle finished just behind Solan in the 200 to place fourth, and secured a fifth-place finish in the 60-meter dash.
McCorkle, a 2017 captain, lauded the sprinters’ incredible contributions, and plans to set the bar high for the upcoming outdoor season.
“Team-wise, the goal is definitely to maintain where we’ve just finished off in the indoor season,” she said. “We plan on moving forward with the confidence knowing that we can compete at that level.”
Harvard stood in the way of the Quakers’ title dreams at Indoor Heps, winning by a wide margin of nearly 20 points. The Crimson’s demonstration of dominance has not dampened the spirits of the Penn sprinters, however.
“I definitely see us at the top,” McCorkle responded when asked where she sees the sprinters in relation to the rest of the Ivy League.
When discussing the men’s sprint team, the conversation begins and ends with sophomore Calvary Rogers. The men’s team, as a whole, finished a less-than-glamorous fifth at 2017 Indoor Heps, but Rogers put on a performance for the ages in the 200m.
Due to a myriad of disqualifications and injuries in the field, Rogers ran alone in the 200m final. With all eyes on him and nobody to race but himself, Rogers completed the ultimate spectacle, setting the meet record with a stellar time of 21.63 seconds and becoming the first Quaker ever to win the 200m at Heps.
Rather than be intimidated by them, Rogers relishes the heightened expectations placed upon him from his stellar indoor season.
“It’s a lot different than last year,” he said. “I think it sets the bar a lot higher for things beyond the Ivy League now.”
The young sprint team sees itself in good standing in relation to the rest of the Ivy League, and Rogers believes the sprinters have a lot to look forward to this spring.
“I think that we’re a really outdoors-based team because we have so many people coming in from down south and California, so they’re not really as used to having an indoor season,” he remarked. “I’m really looking forward to what the change is going to be outdoors.”
Princeton and Cornell have long been the heavyweights in the Ivy League on the men’s side — and with Penn graduating superstars Sam Mattis (throws) and Thomas Awad (distance), some might expect that trend to contiue.
But with a phenomenal young core of sprinters, led by Rogers, don’t expect the Red and Blue to fall too far out of contention at this year’s outdoor Heps.