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Penn came off with a bang at their first meet, where freshman sprinter Bella Whittaker recorded two top-10 marks in the 200m and 400m dash.

Credit: Chase Sutton

After more than a year off, the Red and Blue started off their season with a bang. 

On Saturday, Penn track and field hosted the Penn Challenge, welcoming local schools Rider, Villanova, St. Joseph’s, and Temple to Franklin Field for the meet. Emotions were running high for the Quakers, with athletes and coaches alike thrilled to be back in action.

“For me personally, it was the excitement of seeing everybody compete,” Penn's coach Steve Dolan said. “And the appreciation of all of the hard work that went into making it happen — the Penn administration and all the people that made it possible.”

“It was so amazing, especially for the seniors, to see everybody so excited to compete again and cheer each other on. It was a really special moment,” senior captain Camille Dickson said. “It was really emotional to me as a senior, because I didn’t realize how much I missed that energy.” 

The Quakers recorded 10 top-10 marks in program history, and 19 first place wins as a whole. 

For the women, two top-10 marks were recorded by freshman sprinter Bella Whittaker. She recorded the second-best records in program history for both the 200m dash and the 400m dash with times of 23.76s and 53.54s, respectively. Distance junior Ariana Gardizy’s 9:37.94 time in the 3000m race also recorded a top-10 mark.

In the throwing events, junior Mayyi Mahama broke her personal best of 60.27m in the hammer throw and recorded a No. 1 mark in program history with a 64.79m toss. Freshman Addie Renner in the high jump, junior Kirstin West in the javelin throw, junior Tamara Grahovac in the triple jump, and Dickson in the long jump also each recorded top-10 marks. 

“The things that I’ve been working on in practice, I was able to focus on throughout the meet,” Dickson said. 

For her senior year, Dickson hopes to continue to work with their new coach on her long jumps, and hopefully make it to regionals and nationals. 

“It was super nice to compete again, especially since I hadn’t had an outdoor season since sophomore year,” Dickson said. “I think, not having a fall, I didn’t really know what to expect going into the meet. It honestly went really well.” 

Notably, Dickson also placed first in the 100m dash and second in the 200m dash, second only to Whittaker. Junior Ellen Byrnes and freshman Phoebe White placed first in their respective events, the 800m and the 1500m. Additionally, senior Michelle Rubinetti placed first in the pole vault, and sophomore Inumidun Oyebode placed first in the discus throw and second in shot put. 

Other notable performances include sophomore Grace O’Shea placing second in the 100m dash, junior Haley Rizek placing third in the 100m hurdles. Multiple freshman put on a show in their first competition wearing the Red and Blue, including Aliya Garozzo, who placed third in the 400m event, Olivia Morganti, who placed second in the 1500m, and Laura Baeyens and Zoe Shetty, who placed second and third in the 3000m. 

In the throwing events, freshman Omonye Osezua placed third in the hammer throw and Rizek placed third in the javelin throw. Additionally, junior Claire Moreau placed third in the high jump, junior Tamara Grahovac placed third in the long jump, and sophomore Jacinta Arnold placed third in the triple jump. 

For the men, senior distance runners Ryan Renken and Noah Carey set two top-10 marks in the 5000m race. Renken achieved the third-best time with his time of 13:52.78, and Carey achieved the fourth all-time mark with his 13:58.60 time. 

More notable performances ended up on the podium on the men's side. In the 110m hurdles, junior Enoch Cheung placed first, while freshman sprinter Dimitri Nicholson placed second in the 100m dash. Sophomores Emerson Douds and Alex Ruhl placed second and third, respectively, in the 200m, both falling to a sprinter from Rider. In the 1500m race, junior Mason Gatewood placed second, and junior James Lee placed third. 

In addition, senior thrower Campbell Parker placed first in both the discus and hammer events and freshman Ben Kioko added another first place to the tally with his win in the javelin throw. In the high jump event, sophomores Michael Hermes and Mark Anselmi placed first and second, respectively. In the pole vault, freshman Scott Toney placed first and senior Demetri Whitsett placed second, while sophomore Olatide Abinusawa placed first in the shot put event. 

“It was such a great start to the season, and a great way to come back from being gone for so long and not being able to compete,” Dickson said. 

The Red and Blue will be back in action against local competition next Saturday for Philadelphia Big 5 Meet at Franklin Field.