PHILADELPHIA - One week after hosting the 118th running of the Penn Relays, the University of Pennsylvania women's track and field team will welcome its Ivy League counterparts to Franklin Field for the 2012 Outdoor Heptagonal Championships on Saturday and Sunday.
The Heps meet kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday with the start of the multi-events. A few field events finals will be take place later that afternoon, including the hammer throw, pole vault and long jump. Saturday concludes with the finals for the 10,000 meters at 5:45 p.m. Championship Sunday begins with the resumption of the heptathlon plus the finals for the triple jump and shot put at 11 a.m. The 2012 Heptagonal team champion will be announced around 5 p.m. For live updates and results throughout the meet, see the link atop this release.
At Heps, only the top-six finishers score in each event and Penn will be counting on points from a variety of its athletes.
Entering this weekend's competition, Penn has 15 marks ranking in the top six of the Ivy League. That includes two title favorites. Junior Morgan Wheeler enters the championship meet with the top mark in the javelin this year. Her career-best toss of 45.04 meters (147 feet, 9 inches) is three feet better than any other throw among Ivy Leaguers this year. And no Ivy athlete has topped junior Jillian Hart's mark in the pole vault. She is tied with four others for the league's top mark at 3.85 meters (12-07.50 ft.).
Other potential scorers for the Quakers in the field events include seniors Catherine Okoukoni and Kristen Judge. Okoukoni's top triple jump this year ranks sixth in the Ivies, while Judge set the school record in the high jump at Franklin Field on April 14 at 1.75 meters (5-08.75 ft.) - a mark that would have won the Heps title last year. Freshman Amira Privott-Yeiser is fifth in the league in the heptathlon after her score of 4,279 on April 20 at the Larry Ellis Invitational.
In the relay events, the Quakers are the favorites to take home the 4x100 title. Three legs return from 2011's runner-up team - Gabrielle Piper, Paige Madison and Leah Brown. They are joined by senior Emily Townsend, who posted the third-best 100 meters in program history (12.01) earlier this spring. That group owns the top time in the league this year at 46.12 - which is second-best all-time at Penn. The Quakers also rank fourth in the Ivies in the 4x800-meter relay and third in the 4x400-meter relay.
In the individual track events the Quakers are deep in the sprints and hurdles. Madison ranks fourth in the 400-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 1:00.64 and Piper is fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a mark of 14.16. Piper joins Brown and Townsend as three of the top six Ivy sprinters in the 100 meters, while Brown also ranks third in the 200 meters. In the 800, senior Victoria Strickland is in position to score as her top time of 2:08.32 was the fourth-best mark in the Ivies this year.
The Quakers finished in fifth place for the second straight year at the Ivy outdoor championship meet in New Haven, Conn., last year. Piper was the individual runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles and Strickland was third in the 800 meters with the fifth-best time in school history (2:08.00). In addition, Brown scored in four events on the day, which included a third-place finish in the 100 meters - she did so with the best time of her career and improved upon the third-best time in program history with a finish of 12.03. A full recap of the 2011 Heps championships can be found here.
A full recap of the 2012 Outdoor Heptagonal Championships will be available at PennAthletics.com shortly after the completion of each day's events.