PHILADELPHIA - Sophomore Gabrielle Piper won her first outdoor Heps title in the 100-meter hurdles on Sunday at Franklin Field, senior captain Leah Brown posted two All-Ivy performances and the University of Pennsylvania women's track and field team finished fifth overall at the 2012 Outdoor Heptagonal Championships.
As a team, Penn finished fifth with 79 points. Cornell took home the 2012 Outdoor Heptagonal team title with 158 points and Princeton was the runner-up with 134 points.
Piper won her second Heptagonal championship (60-meter hurdles at 2012 indoors) with a fast start off the blocks. The rest of the field couldn't close in before Piper broke the tape at 14.09. The Quakers earned 12 points in the event with an equally impressive effort from senior Paige Madison. The team co-captain had not run in the 100-meter hurdles since 2010, but reached the finals and then scored with her fifth-place time of 14.33 on Sunday - a career-best mark and ninth all-time at Penn.
Just 30 minutes later, Piper was back on the track for the 100-meter finals. In her third race of the day - she was also on the 4x100 relay - she showed no signs of fatigue. In fact, she finished third at 12.13 to earn six more points and was just behind senior captain Leah Brown, who finished as the runner-up with a time of 12.03 - matching a personal best and the fourth-best time in the history of the program. That effort was worth eight more points, but the Quakers weren't done. Junior Nony Onyeador came across the finish line in fifth with a mark of 12.21 to give the Red and Blue a total of 16 points from the event.
Madison did not have much longer than Piper before she was back on the track as well. As the only woman in Penn history to break 60 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles, she did so again on Sunday. Her time of 59.21 finished just a few strides short of a Heps title. But her second-place finish will earn her All-Ivy accolades for the seventh time in her storied career when the honors are announced Monday.
Penn continued to dominate the sprinting events. Three of the six scorers were Quakers for the second time on the afternoon when Brown finished as the runner-up in the 200 meters - her second All-Ivy performance in a span of an hour. Her time of 24.28 was a career best and improved upon her third-place standing in the school record book. In addition, freshman Heather Bong scored in the event with a collegiate-best effort during her first outdoor Heps meet. She was fifth with a time of 25.04, which was just a few steps in front of senior teammate Renee McDougall's sixth-place finish of 25.12.
McDougall also added a point in the 400 meters. She finished sixth with a time of 56.06 and beat out Harvard's Shannon Conway to get into the scoring.
Penn's first points of the day came early in the afternoon behind its formidable 4x100-meter relay. Throughout the year, Piper, Brown, senior Emily Townsend and Onyeador ave combined to make up one of the top 4x100-meter relay teams of all-time at Penn. They impressed again with a time of 46.27. It was the second-best time of the year for this unit and only one other relay team at Penn has ever posted a better mark. The third-place finish tacked on six points for the Red and Blue.
Senior Veronica Salcido became one of just nine Quakers to break 2:10.00 in the 800 meters during Saturday's trials. On Championship Sunday, she once again set a personal best in the event. Her mark of 2:08.60 placed her fourth and garnered the Quakers four more points. It was the sixth-fastest 800 meters ever run by a Quaker. Senior Victoria Strickland was seventh with a time of 2:11.46.
In the high jump, senior Kristen Judge finished third at 1.73 meters (5 feet, 8 inches), while freshman Annie Holland finished in a tie for fourth at 1.67 meters (5-05.75 ft.). Judge passed at the first height and then cleared the next three bars without a miss. She was one of just three to reach 1.73 meters, but was unable to set the school record at the next height.
Senior Catherine Okoukoni, who scored in the long jump on the first day of competition, added two more points for the Quakers with a fifth-place showing in the triple jump. She landed at 11.87 meters (38-11.50 ft.) on her third jump to advance to the finals of the event and that remained her top mark to earn a pair of points.
To cap the day, the 4x400-meter relay finished fourth to add three more points to Penn's scoreboard. The four senior captains - McDougall, Madison, Stickland and Brown - finished in 3:44.73.
Senior Corinne Rich was unable to find her way into the scoring in the shot put, but it was not without one of the best throws in program history. Her final toss settled at 12.51 meters (41-00.50 ft) and moved her into 10th place all-time at Penn in the event. Senior Laura Steel finished in a similar position. She was also just outside the scoring in her event, but posted the fifth-fastest 3,000 meters at Penn with her time of 9:43.65.
Postseason competition continues for the Quakers next week when the qualifiers head to Princeton, N.J., for the ECAC Championships at Weaver Stadium, May 11-12.