Penn track and field is off to a record-hot start to begin 2020, and from what it looks like, it seems they’ll never cool off.
The Red and Blue outperformed their opponents just last week in Staten Island, N.Y., and they made sure to keep up the pressure as they returned to the Big Apple to compete in the Dr. Sander Invitational Columbia Challenge meet.
The competition ran from last Friday to Saturday and consisted of fifty-one total events, though the length of the meet didn't prevent the Quakers from putting on record-breaking performances.
In the short sprints, freshman Grace O’Shea dominated the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.50 in the heats, sending her to the final where she finished third. Her final time of 8.40 would tie her teammate senior Breanne Bygrave, who just missed the final with a time of 8.55, for the program record. Freshman Lauryn Harris and sophomore Skyla Wilson also impressed, posting times of 8.68 and 8.80, respectively. Harris would then outperform her competition by winning the long jump with a program-best mark of 5.98m.
In the throwing events, sophomore Mayyi Mahama continued to dominate, easily winning the weight throw with an impressive mark of 19.85m. Just last week, she had set a new PR and all-time program record of 19.89, and her performance on Saturday was just one of several top-five results for the women’s team.
The Quakers also impressed at the women’s 4x400 quartet, as Wilson, senior Elena Brown-Soler, senior Cecil Ene, and junior Uchechi Nwogwugwu finished third, just behind Ohio State and UCLA, at a time of 3:40.60, the second-best in program history. And in the high-stakes 800m Invitational, senior Nia Akins beat out tough competition, finishing fifth with a time of 2:04.31.
“We are all just trying to reach a higher height. We have some people trying to qualify for the Olympics, and some people who have already qualified, and I think the vibe right now is that we’re aiming higher than we have in the past,” Mahama said. “As a team, we’re just working at winning the [Ivy League] Heps this year.”
The Red and Blue also shined on the men's side. Junior Marvin Morgan qualified for the final in the 60m dash, placing eighth with a final time of of 6.89. Seniors Colin and Will Daly respectively finished fourth and fifth in the 3,000m run, with Colin adding his time of 8:11.16 to the record book for the ninth-best in program history. Senior pole vaulter Sean Clarke impressed with a clearance of 5.25m, coming in second.
But ultimately, the athletes are still improving and are working every day to continue to dominate events. Their practice is far from over.
“This year, I’m really focused on calming down during meets. What [my coach and I] are going to be working on is being able to focus and pull practice throws, and making them my official throws,” Mahama said. Personally, I think I just need to go in the ring and do it. I hesitate in the ring all the time. I need to go in and do what I know how to do. A lot of people know that I’m good at what I do, but I really need to prove it.”
Next weekend, the Red and Blue will open the month of February not too far away at the Villanova Invitational, where they seek to continue their astonishing run even further. Looking to win the Ivy Heps at the end of February, the Quakers will keep pushing through as they face ever-so-tough competition.
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