PHILADELPHIA - As defending champions, the Unviersity of Pennsylvania women's track and field team finished as the runner-up in the Peen-Yale-Princeton tri-meet on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field.
Princeton won the meet with 106 points, while Penn finished with 67 and Yale placed third with 28.
The Quakers got an early victory in the 4x100-meter relay. Penn nearly broke the 47-second barrier for the second time in as many weeks. Only six relay teams in school history have broken that mark. Penn outpaced the competition with a time of 47.05.
Shortly thereafter, freshman Gabrielle Piper started a string of three straight wins for the Quakers when she sprinted to victory in the 100-meter hurdles. It was her first career victory in the event as she won with a time of 14.51.
That was followed by wins from senior captain Kali Strother in the 400 meters and from junior Leah Brown in the 100 meters. In each race, the Quakers had the top two finishers. Strother won with a season-best effort of 56.90 and was followed by junior Paige Madison's second-place tim of 57.46. In a headwind during the 100 meters, Brown (12.47) and Piper (12.49) were the first two to cross the finish, followed by two more dark blue jerseys in Kesi Irvin (12.59) and Nony Onyeador (12.66).
Brown, who was a part of three victories on the day, also finished first in the 200 meters with a time of 25.03. Piper ensured herself as a three-time winner on Saturday with a victory in the long jump. Her third jump of the day measured 5.33 meters (17 feet, 6 inches) and won the meet by a single centimeter.
Sophomore Leslie Kovach moved up in the school record book with a collegiate-best performance in the 3,000 meters. Kovach finished in 9:36.68 to finish fourth at the meet. It topped her previous best effort from the 2010 Penn Relays by six seconds. It moved her from fourth to third in the school record books.
Junior Corinne Rich and sophomore Morgan Wheeler also moved up in the record books. Rich's career-best toss of 41.31 meters (135-06 ft.) in the discus won the meet and moved her up two spots and into eighth-place all-time at Penn in the event. Wheeler set her new career mark in the javelin at 41.45 meters (136-00 ft.). That was the best throw for any Quaker in two years and slid her into eighth-place in the school record book.
Junior Kristen Judge and Wheeler earned the top two spots in the high jump. They were the only two competitors to clear the bar at 1.65 meters (5-05 ft.). Judge won the event title with the tiebreaker as she cleared each bar on her first attempt.
Sophomore Charlotte Pope scored in the hammer throw. She placed third with a season-best toss of 44.91 meters (147-04 ft.). She also placed third with a season-best toss of 13.09 meters (42-11.50 ft.) in the shot put.
In the 800 meters, junior Victoria Strickland finished with a career-best time of 2:10.73 to qualify for the ECAC Championships in the event and place fifth at the meet.
Penn won this meet last year at Princeton's Weaver Stadium with 89 points to Princeton's 83. It was the first victory in the annual meet for the Red and Blue since 2006.
Saturday's tri-meet marked the third time in as many weeks the Red and Blue competed on their home track. Penn has just one home meet remaining, the 117th running of the Penn Relays, the world's oldest and largest relay carnival. Some tickets are still available here.
Next weekend, the Quakers have their first week off of the 2011 outdoor season. They will resume competition on April 23 at Princeton's Larry Ellis Invitational.