25 Quakers may have gone, but only one is coming home happy.
After a record number of Penn athletes qualified for the NCAA East Regional Preliminaries in Lexington, Kentucky this year, hopes were high that Pen track and field would be able to continue their season’s success into the upcoming NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Unfortunately for the Quakers, the season came to an end in Kentucky for all but one Penn athlete.
Now, that one successful Penn athlete, freshman pole vaulter Sean Clarke, will head out West representing the Red and Blue on his own.
Needing to finish in the top 12 to advance, Clarke came up big when it mattered most. Clarke cleared 5.35 meters, good for his personal best and a seventh place finish in the event. The vault put Clarke in some pretty good company too. He now owns the second best pole vault in Penn history and is the first freshman to qualify for the NCAA Championships since Thomas Awad did in 2013.
Even though Clarke was the only one to qualify, several other Quakers turned in strong performances. Particularly impressive was recent graduate Noah Kennedy-White’s throwing in the discus, in what would end up being his final appearance for the Red and Blue. At the end of flight two, Kennedy-White looked to be in great position at fourth place, but the competition in flight three proved to be just a little too much as Kennedy-White finished in 17th place.
Out on the track, the meet also marked the end of several runners’ careers. Most notably, Chris Hatler, Ashley Montgomery, and Clarissa Whiting all came up short on the day, but all will leave big holes for the Quakers to fill next year.
Luckily for Penn, the future looks bright in University City with the likes of Clarke leading the way. Only time will tell how the young athletes will be able to develop, but next year, no one should be surprised if more than one Quaker are heading out to Oregon.
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