With athletes competing in the Tennessee Relays, Bucknell’s Bison Classic, and the Rider Invite, Penn track stayed busy this weekend.
When all was said and done, Penn took home 10 victories, and 10 of its performances secured spots in the top 10 all-time for their respective events.
The women's team broke several records across all three competitions. At the Tennessee Relays, the group set two program records while making strides in three others. In the 4x400-meter relay, sophomore Uchechi Nwogwugwu and juniors Elena Brown-Soler, Cecil Ene, and Nia Akins set the third-best time in program history.
In the field events, Brown-Soler continued to put her name into the record books by taking the fourth all-time slot in the long jump, with junior Kathryn Schoenauer moving into the ninth-best position all time. The women finished out the field program with an additional five athletes placing in the top 10 of their events.
Penn's biggest accomplishments in Tennessee were the record-breaking runs of Akins in the 800 and Ene in the 200, who set new times of 2:03.76 and 23.63, respectively.
“I don’t think we’ve changed anything, which I think has been really helpful. Honestly, the thing that’s changed has been the racing aspect of it and building confidence over time,” Akins said“We worked more on endurance in the offseason, and now we are beginning to focus more on speed. It’s helped me to feel more confident in my fitness, but at the same time it has forced me to manage my expectations and mindset towards competition,” Ene said. “If you execute your race properly, the time will come. When I see a good time, I am always happy, but I feel it’s more beneficial to focus on what I could improve on and never be complacent.”
The women picked up yet another record during the Bison Classic on Saturday with junior Maddie Villalba’s run of 4:16.83 in the 1500, outpacing the previous program record by 1.12 seconds.
The Quakers rounded out their hectic weekend with a few victories at the Rider Invite. Freshman athletes made their presence known in this competition, with Mia Knight conquering the 100m dash, Haley Rizek securing the javelin win, and Skyla Wilson delivering the seventh-best 100m hurdle time in Penn history. Junior Zoe Early also came away with a victory in the pole vault with a mark of 3.55m.
While men’s track was unable to set new program records, the team still had a strong showing this weekend.
In the Tennessee Relays field events, the freshmen continued to dominate with Marc Minichello, whose 72.45m javelin throw gave him the third-best spot in Penn history. Junior Nathan Fisher’s performance in the pole vault was the fourth-best all-time mark, and sophomore Cristian Constantin's triple jump secured the sixth all-time mark in program history.
The men acquired most of their victories at the Rider Invite due to their formidable display in the field events. Sophomore Campbell Parker was on double duty and failed to disappoint, winning in both the discus and hammer throw. With a mark of 7.12m, sophomore Demetri Whitsett snatched the long jump victory, and junior Sean Clarke triumphed in the pole vault.
The placement of several Quakers in NCAA East record spots was a highlight of this weekend’s competitions. Minchello’s javelin throw put him at the seventh-best spot on the NCAA East list this season, and Villalba’s run in the 1500 at the Bison Classic is the fourth-best time in the NCAA East. Akins’ time in the 800 moved her into second on the NCAA East qualifying list.
“My whole team follows the same mindset. Now we’re in a position where we’re doing really well as a group, and I just try to piggy-back off of them and feed off their energy and do the best,” Akins said.
Now that invitationals season is almost over, the Red and Blue have their eyes on several pivotal competitions. After next week’s Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton, the Quakers will head back home to the Penn Relays before gearing up for the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships.
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