They just keep on raising the bar, don’t they.
On Thursday, Penn track and field heads to Lexington, KY to compete in their season-ending NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Red and Blue enter the NCAA East Preliminary Round in almost too-fitting fashion, sending a record 25 team members across both teams.
Penn track and field boasted program records in NCAA qualifiers for both of their teams; 13 men will travel to Lexington and the women’s program will send 12 athletes to the championships.
Just as impressive as the senior leadership for the Quakers, has been the contribution of the freshmen who have delivered impactful performances throughout the season. The women’s squad qualified five freshmen to the championships this year, making the Class of 2020 the most represented class on the women’s NCAA East preliminary team. To illustrate how significant this statistic is, note that the highest number of athletes the women’s programs have qualified to the NCAA preliminaries is seven.
The most significant contribution the freshmen have made this year has been the infusion of new runners into the Penn’s relay lineup. The trio of Cecil Ene, Mikayla Schneider and Elena Brown-Soler have helped lead the women’s 4x400 relay team to eligibility at Lexington. This marks the first-time Penn has fielded an outdoor 4x400 relay team at the NCAA’s.
Scratch that, this is the first women’s outdoor relay team to qualify for the NCAA’s period.
The influx of sprinting and middle distance talent in the likes of Maddie Villalba and Nia Akins has rounded out a strong women’s squad. With seniors like Ashley Montgomery, and Clarissa and Cleo Whiting, the women are on track to producing a program-best performance at the Red and Blue’s biggest event of the season.
For the men’s side, five field athletes will look to improve on what has been an impressive season for the Quakers. In a season where the Red and Blue said goodbye to historic discus thrower Sam Mattis, the remaining field athletes have done well to carry the banner of Quaker Field Athletics.
Among the most notable of the men’s squad is senior captain and Honorable Mention All-American Noah Kennedy-White, who has taken over the mantle of leader of the men’s discus squad and qualified for his third-straight NCAA’s. Seniors William Bishop and Sam Kaplan will represent the men’s throwing team in shot put and javelin respectively, with junior Sean Ryan representing Penn in the hammer throw.
As a squad, the numbers have fallen in the Quakers favor this year. They had to Kentucky with more representatives than ever before. Ultimately, though, it is the depth and diversity of the strengths of ther qualifiers that will make the NCAA East Prelims a real treat for Quaker fans. With Penn showing their strength in a variety of distance running events and maintaining form after an incredible tenure in their field events. Be prepared for Penn to raise the bar once more with a record breaking performance to clos out a record breaking season.
Things certainly seem to be tracking in that direction.