Protecting titles and breaking records: This weekend, the Quakers continued to impress and make history.
Penn women’s track and field secured the team’s third consecutive victory in the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships with 133 points. The men’s team placed third, following Princeton and Harvard with 91 points.
“I’m really proud of the senior class, it’s pretty amazing how they’ve led the team in the last couple of years, so for them to be successful in all of the events and kind of lead the team to the title was pretty amazing,” coach Steve Dolan said. “The courage and team atmosphere that both of the teams brought to the meet were really impressive."
For the men’s team, junior James Mirfield placed first in the shot put event with a mark of 14.41 meters. His teammates senior Evan Lee and junior Demetri Whitsett placed third and seventh in the same event, respectively. Freshman Caleb Johnson brought home a first place victory for the Quakers in the pole vault with a score of 5.25m.
“This is one of the meets that we really circle as one of the most important meets because it’s such a team meet," Dolan said. “In track and field, in some of the meets, you’re looking for individual performances at a high level, for personal best you’re trying to qualify for Nationals, but this meet was really all about the team, and it was really impressive how people stepped forward."
The men’s team also had two other freshmen, Robbie Ruppel and Antaures Jackson, win second and third place, respectively, in the 500m. They placed first and second in the first round of the race, Jackson coming up 0.01 seconds ahead of Ruppel. Sophomore Ray Sellaro and senior Colin Daly finished the mile in second and third place respectively as well, within 0.1 seconds of each other.
In the women’s 4x400-meter, Penn placed first, ahead of Harvard with sophomore Skyla Wilson, senior Cecil Ene, senior Elena Brown-Soler, and junior Uchechi Nwogwugwu. Ene and Brown-Soler also placed third and fourth, respectively, in the 200m final, and Ene placed second in the 400m final. Wilson led Penn to victory in the 500m beating Harvard by just over one second.
“From the team standpoint, we came in with the mindset that we’ve done this before, we’ve won a couple of times, but we were still very cognizant of the fact that we were still really going to have to fight for this one, and we did, it was close, but we were able to pull through,” senior Nia Akins said.
The women also won the 4x800 final, with sophomore Caroline O’Sullivan, senior Katherine DeVore, sophomore Ellen Byrnes, and junior Melissa Tanaka. In the 800m final, Tanaka secured a first-place win as well. Freshman Lauryn Harris also placed second in the 60m hurdles.
Akins picked up the Most Outstanding Female Track Athlete award for the second year in a row. This weekend’s competition saw her take victories in the 1000m and the mile.
“We all knew that we trained for the times, we trained for the throws and the marks and everything, but when it comes down to the championship meet, it’s all about the race, it’s all about the throw, it’s all about the performance in the moment, and I think we did a really good job of executing that out there today,” Akins said.
Additionally, the women placed first in both the weight throwing events. Senior Maura Kimmel placed first in women’s shot put, a title which she defended from last year, and sophomore Mayyi Mahama won the weight throw by about three meters, setting the school and all-time Ivy League record.
Today’s performance is followed by another high-stakes competition in the near future. The NCAA competition is in two weeks, and right now, Akins has the fastest time in the 800m. Mahama also has a good chance of making it to the competition following her performance this weekend.