After returning from winter break, Penn Athletics teams are now back in full swing for the winter season. Heading into a busy weekend of competition, here is what to look for from Penn tennis and track and field.
Opening this year’s competition against Richmond at home, Penn women's tennis fought hard for a 4-3 win. Although they dropped the only possible point in the doubles, the Quakers capitalized off of strong singles play. Led by sophomore Yulia Bryzgalova – the No. 12 ranked singles player in the United States – the Red and Blue won four of six singles matches to clinch the one-point victory.
Heading into this weekend, the Quakers are traveling to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off Weekend. In addition to a match against Vanderbilt, Penn will also play either Northwestern or Arizona State, depending on the outcome of their match.
Men’s tennis did not fare as well last weekend. Although the 7-0 loss against No. 18 ranked Tennessee may seem like a complete domination, the scoreline is not entirely indicative of what actually happened.
In the first doubles match of the day, the sophomore team of Jason Hildebrandt and Edoardo Graziani had an early lead, but they were ultimately overcome by the Volunteers. In the singles matches, Graziani gave his opponent a lot of trouble; losing the first set 7-6, he took the second by storm, 6-3. He ultimately could not take the final set though, dropping it by a score of 6-3. In the other matches, the Quakers lost close matches.
“Our guys put in a great effort, and it's one of the hardest working group of guys I’ve ever had. Our freshman class is very good and very competitive. They’ll put in all the time to be good,” coach David Geatz said.
As the Red and Blue head into this weekend, they stay at home to take on Navy, which is coming off a 6-1 loss to Dartmouth followed by a 5-2 win versus St. Bonaventure. After losing last year’s matchup against Penn, 7-0, Navy will look to avenge their defeat. Graziani, sophomore Kevin Zhu, and senior Dmitry Shatalin were all successful against the Navy last year and are players to watch going into the weekend.
“The keys are to sustain the same work ethic we’ve had all fall, and I think that will go a long way," Geatz said.
Track and field
Both men’s and women’s track and field teams head to New York this weekend to compete in the Dr. Sander/Columbia Challenge. After garnering great success in a record-setting meet at the Penn 8-Team Select last week, the Red and Blue will look to sustain this success.
During their successful start to the season in both short and long distance events, the Quakers have been able to garner numerous victories. In the 60-meter hurdles last week, the Red and Blue were able to take the top four positions, led by freshman Lauryn Harris, who recorded a time of 8.61 seconds
Going into this weekend, the two athletes to watch in that event are Harris and Penn 60m hurdle record-holder senior Breanne Bygrave. They could compete for the top spot in the Penn record books bring home another victory for the Red and Blue in the event.
In addition to track success, sophomore Mayyi Mahama’s phenomenal 19.89m weight throw allowed her to improve her personal record and maintain her No. 2 spot on Penn’s all-time leaderboard. This weekend, she will look to break her personal record again and reach the No. 1 all-time spot.
The men’s side also shared in the team’s success. Dominating in the shorter events, junior Marvin Morgan won the 60m dash with a time of 6.92 seconds. Following him in sixth place was freshman Josh Bridges, who tallied a final time of 6.99. Freshman Emerson Douds continued Penn’s success in sprints, coming in second in the 200m.
The Red and Blue also conquered the longer events, winning the 3K and mile runs. In the field, senior Sean Clarke was able to take a win with a 5.22m clearance in the pole vault, with senior Nathan Fisher and freshman Caleb Johnson following in third and fourth, respectively.
Although Penn has been successful all across the board, their major success has been anchored by solid young talent in the sprints as well as veteran skill in the field, especially from Clarke, Fisher, and Mahama.