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Credit: Weining Ding

Wearing the Red and Blue stripes for the last time, senior sprinter Isabella Whittaker never lost speed in her final dash to the finish line. Her dominant senior campaign made her the clear leader of the pack for Women’s Athlete of the Year honors. 

Whittaker’s 2024 started off hot. In the span of two January weekends, Whittaker set Ivy league records in the 400- and 500-meter races, respectively. For Whittaker, however, this record-shattering start did not come out of thin air. Breaking records was all a part of Whittaker’s plan for her final go-around as a Quaker. 

“Leading up to the season, I had written down a bunch of goals for myself," Whittaker told The Daily Pennsylvanian in January. “Ivy League and school records were on there.” 

Just as she planned, Whittaker kept on winning as the season progressed. At the John Thomas Terrier Classic, Whittaker ended her historic January in style, running a 51.96 second 400m race. This staggering personal record broke the facility record for the event and was the No. 2 time in the world at the time of the race. 

Whittaker continued her winning ways into the Ivy Heptagonal Championship. At the Heps, she placed first among the sprinters of the Ancient Eight in the 400m sprint. This first-place finish helped catapult Penn women’s track and field to the overall Ivy championship.

These commanding performances landed Whittaker a spot in the 2024 Indoor NCAA Championships. Unfortunately, Whittaker was unable to compete in her qualified events due to injury. 

Most recently, Whittaker competed during day three of the Penn Relays Carnival, a competition she has run in since her freshman year of high school. This year, she anchored the 4x400m sprint and led the Quakers to a third place finish in the event and another Ivy league record. 

Whittaker will be continuing her athletic career as a graduate student at the University of Arkansas. She is joining an impressive group of 400m sprinters at a well-established women’s track and field program. 

“My end goal is to go pro. [Competing at Arkansas] just felt like the perfect next step. It's going to be pretty intense, but I'm really excited for that," Whittaker told the DP last week. “I think just switching it up and just trying to see how far I can take this track thing.”