They may not play in the Palestra, but Penn track and field is balling.
Penn traveled to Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, N.Y. to compete in the Villanova Invitational on Saturday.
The Quakers, coming off of a strong showing at the Dr. Sander/Columbia Challenge last weekend, brought their momentum back to New York. Despite a few of the Quakers’ best competing at Texas Tech and Penn State this weekend, Penn was still able to put its imprint on the meet.
The women thoroughly dominated the day, with numerous top-five finishes all across the board. On the track, Junior Alyssa Condell won the 3000-meter race by 40 seconds with a time of 9:56.71 seconds. Sophomore Mia Knight won the 60m dash with a time of 7.53, the second-fastest time in Penn history. Freshman Grace O’Shea finished third in the 60m hurdles with 8.65 seconds, good for second of all time after her own record-tying performance earlier in the season. Despite already being one of the most accomplished hurdlers in Penn’s history, O’Shea was not satisfied with her time.
“I really want to go about 8.28 to 8.30, that would be a big goal for the season,” she said.
The Penn women also showed off their depth during the meet. The Red and Blue finished in first, third, and fifth in the 200m, led by junior Uchechi Nwogwugwu.
The women also had a lot of success in the field. Pole vaulters Abby Norwillo, Sydney Woods, Zoe Early, Michelle Rubinetti all cleared 3.55m, tying for second place. Freshman Lauryn Harris lived up to her high school reputation, in which she ranked 10th in the country, to win the long jump with a mark of 5.68m.
Senior Olivia Welsh finished second in the high jump at 1.65m. Freshman Morgan Johnson, who came out of high school as U.S. No. 2 in shot put, finished third with a throw of 13.43m.
“The team looks phenomenal, honestly,” O’Shea said. “Everyone’s so close, everyone pays attention to each other and their events. Everyone cares, and that’s how a team gets better, that’s how we win, it’s that closeness.”
The men’s team, running on a limited squad, also had some success that day.
The Quakers finished first, second, and fourth in the 60m hurdles, led by sophomore Jared Elters with a time of 8.23 seconds. Penn dominated the field, winning both the high jump and the pole vault. Sean Clarke’s mark of 5.30m on the pole vault was the second-highest of all time for the Quakers. The distance team showed off some depth as well, placing third, fourth, and sixth in the 1 mile and second, third, and sixth in the 1000m.
Overall, this meet served as a good midseason tune-up for the Quakers, who will be competing in championship season at the end of the month. O’Shea noted that this season could be a big one for the Penn.
“There were a lot of PRs across the board and season bests, and people did really well,” O’Shea said. “Right now if the team is the closest it has ever been, it will be the most successful it has ever been.”
Penn won't have to travel too far to its next meet: the Sykes Sabok Challenge at Penn State this Saturday.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.