The stakes have never been higher this winter for Penn track, swimming, and gymnastics. The accumulation of all their hard work and preparation will be put to the test this weekend, and standout performances are expected from many of Penn's star athletes.
Here's a breakdown of what this weekend looks like for the Red and Blue and who you should keep an eye on.
Track — Rachel Lee Wilson
The biggest meet of the winter season — the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships — is this weekend at Harvard. The women will have difficulty topping last year’s Indoor Heps, when they won their first championship in 22 years, while the men snatched a highly respectable second-place spot and their best finish since 2002. The atmosphere at Heps is one of the greatest motivating factors for the Quakers, and they’ll be looking to keep up the energy and competitive nature that they’ve maintained all season, all while trying to outdo their winning performance from last year.
Senior Rachel Lee Wilson has had nothing short of a record-breaking career while throwing for the Quakers and has continued to improve throughout the indoor season, making her a dominant competitor and a true threat this weekend. Last year, Wilson won the women’s weight throw with a distance of 18.70 meters. Just last weekend, Wilson threw 20.30m to land a new personal record, as well as resetting her own program-best mark. Right now, Wilson is looking almost untouchable, and if the Red and Blue maintain their top spot on the Ancient Eight throne, she will likely be a major contributor.
Swimming — Catherine Buroker
The Ivy League Championships have finally arrived, taking place from Wednesday to Saturday at Princeton. The four-day meet will be in prelims-finals format, meaning that the top 24 in each event in the morning will qualify to swim in a final that night. While the Quakers are at the bottom of the pack at 1-6 in conference meets, the opportunity for individual and team success is more than possible.
Although this is just her first season at Penn, freshman Catherine Buroker has been able to make quite the impact for the Red and Blue. Competing as a distance freestyler, Buroker has had a breakout season and has proven time and time again that she is more than capable of placing first in her events — a quality that the women have been searching for all year. Her consistency and valiant efforts in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650-yard races have not gone unnoticed, and it will be interesting to see how she performs when the stakes are raised.
Gymnastics — Caroline Moore
This Sunday, Penn will be back home in the Palestra to compete in their last exclusively Ivy meet of the season, the Ivy Classic. Brown, Cornell, and Yale will travel down to Philadelphia to compete in what functions as their version of an Ivy League championship, as these are the only schools in the conference that have Division I teams. The Quakers are in strong contention to perform well in the meet after beating Brown and Cornell two weeks ago and losing to Yale by just over a point earlier in the season. This would be a big win for the program, as the last time they won the Ivy Classic was in 2015.
While the success of the team is based on the entire group’s performance, keep an eye on senior Caroline Moore. A two-year captain, Moore is one of the most important gymnasts for the Red and Blue, as her leadership and consistency have been paramount to their accomplishments as a whole. During her four seasons at Penn, she has been able to use her knowledge and experience to not only improve her performances but also the performances of those around her. Not only will her performances on the vault, bar, and beam be a spectacle to watch, but it will also be interesting to see what she will do to get the rest of the team focused and locked in on their expectations for their final meet in the Palestra.
To put it simply, it is a big weekend for the Red and Blue. The tough practices, and trials and tribulations are behind them. Now, it is time to compete as if everything is on the line, because it is.