PHILADELPHIA - With a young corps dominating the majority of the roster for the University of Pennsylvania women's track and field team throughout 2008-09, the Quakers gained an invaluable year of experience that will undoubtedly aid in the team's efforts for years to come.
Cross Country Season
Penn’s women’s cross country team experienced a year of rebuilding in 2008, having graduated All-Americans Claire and Stacy Kim. The team was comprised of three seniors as the remaining team members consisted of all underclassman and two talented freshman. With a dynamic like this, the season was focused on trying to keep the fourth and fifth positions solid as the top three runners were consistent throughout the year.
Seniors Leah Brogan (6K-21:04) and Kinjal Parikh (6K-21:12) had an outstanding season as they held the top two spots consistently. Junior Anna Aagenes was a wonderful surprise as she emerged as an outstanding distance runner. Freshman Laura Steel and Rachel Humphrey consistently rounded out the top five positions.
As the season progressed toward the Ivy Championships, so did the team. The squad finished 6th overall at the League championships with Brogan running 15th for the team’s top position in a 5K time of 18:08 at Van Cortland Park.
At the NCAA Regional qualifying meet, Brogan’s task of reaching the NCAA Championships was daunting — five of the top 25 ranked teams in the country were in Mid-Atlantic region. However, Brogan had one of the best races of her career to place 18th. Her time of 22:15 for 6K was her second best of the season and gave her the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Championships — fulfilling a career-long goal.
At the national championship race, Brogan ran finished in 21:19 and placed 98th position overall to end a stellar cross country season and career. Brogan joined some of the great elite distance runners in program history who competed at the NCAA Championships (Sue Eckle-1986; Chris Lundy-1989-92; Rita Garber-1998 and Stacy Kim-2006.)
The future for Penn women’s cross country looks bright, as nine incoming freshman are cross country and distance running specialists. They will bring a solid group of talent to the team for the 2009 cross country season.
The 2009 indoor campaign for the Quakers was a strong season overall. The young squad showed a tremendous amount of talent. But talent needs maturity and experience, and that is what the indoor season provided for this young team.
At the indoor Heptagonal Championships, the underclassmen for the Red and Blue had some great performances as many of the team’s freshman ran in the finals. The top performances of the weekend for Penn were led by Aagenes’ All-Ivy effort in the 800 meters where she placed second. Junior Hannah Cope also earned All-Ivy honors with a second-place showing in the 60-meter hurdles. Others with strong performances in Penn’s fifth-place team finish included sophomore Kali Stother in the 200 meters, finishing fifth. Junior Kathryn Gevitz was third in the long jump and also scored in the triple jump, placing fourth. Freshman Catherine Okoukoni was fifth in the triple jump and fellow freshman Leah Brown placed fourth in the 60 meters. Another freshman, high jumper Kristen Judge, was fifth in her event and the underclassmen filled 4x400-meter relay team was sixth. In all, 11 different Quakers broke into the program’s indoor all-time top ten lists on 15 occassions. Only two of those 11 have graduated, meaning this young team will surely continue to develop and grow into one of the best indoor teams in the Ivy League.
The 2009 outdoor season continued on the same note as the indoor season. There were strong efforts from the team on a consistent basis, but not quite enough experience to take them all the way. At the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships held at Franklin Field, the team once again placed many of its athletes into the finals, but the young group was unable to grab points from the more experienced opposition, finishing seventh as a team at the event.
Underclassmen again accounted for most of the scoring for the Quakers. Leah Brown was fourth in the 100 meters and seventh in the 200 meters. NCAA Regional qualifier, Anna Aagenes was second in the 800 meters. In the 100-meter hurdles, freshman Paige Madison was fourth, and placed once again in the 400 hurdles, finishing fifth. Freshman Catherine Okoukoni was sixth in the triple jump and the 4x100-meter relay—made up of all underclassmen—earned All-Ivy honors with a second place finish of 46.51 — the second-best time in program history.
At the 115th running of the Penn Relays, the Quakers set two school records. They broke the school mark in the sprint medley relay and, in the Championship of America race, they shattered the Penn record in 4x1500-meter relay.
In the postseason, nearly two dozen Quakers competed at the ECAC Championships and two Quakers—Aagenes and Brogan—reached the NCAA East Regional Championships.