As we enter Spring, Penn track and field enters the thick of its outdoor season. With the Duke Invitational on the horizon in Durham, N.C., let’s check in with the Red and Blue's men's team.
Through three weeks of successful competition, coach Steve Dolan is pleased with the current state of the men's team. The Quakers kickstarted their outdoor season with five first-place finishes at the Penn Challenge and has kept the success rolling since.
“When you go to outdoor track, you add some new events that weren't contested indoors," Dolan said. "So you have a pretty good idea after indoors of who's competing at a high level. But in the spring, you add a few new events.”
The men's team fielded successful outings at both the Raleigh Relays and Hurricane Collegiate Invitational. There were multiple top-20 finishes in Raleigh, N.C., such as sophomore Dylan Throop's program record setting 28:48.59 finish in the 10,000-meter race, and a pair of victories in Miami, which included a pole vault win by sophomore James Rhoads who cleared 5.25 meters after picking up yet another win the weekend prior.
“We build momentum each week and we've had good performances at all the meets,” Dolan reflected.
When asked about some standout performances, Dolan had many shoutouts.
“[Sophomore] Scott Dochat had a big breakthrough in the hammer throw and he threw over 60 meters. That's a long throwing event that isn't contested indoors, so that was fun to see," Dolan said.
Many freshmen for the Red and Blue have already been making a name for themselves, such as Atticus Soehren. The thrower notched a third-place finish at the Big 5 Invitational with a distance of 45.34 meters. Freshman Devante Heywood has curated excitement in the sprint events, recently clocking a time of 21.43 to win the 200m at the same invitational.
As the team prepares to head south to Duke, Dolan acknowledged the fact that the ACC conference will prove to be a test for the Quakers. The team will go up against different teams and competitors, but this will also serve as an opportunity for improvement. The Quakers will look for success in bringing athletes across different event groups.
Beyond the Duke Invitational, there are even more important events coming up — such as the Ivy League and NCAA Championships.
“The reality is our league is very strong in track and field," Dolan said. "So if you're going to be one of the top individuals in the Ivy League, you're also going to have a very good chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships. So they're like dual goals.”
While there are still many important hurdles left for the Quakers to overcome, it is clear that they are headed in the right direction and building momentum at the right time.