Abitante Places Fourth, Men's Track Relay Reaches Finals at IC4A's

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PRINCETON, N.J. – Junior Anthony Abitante scored for the University of Pennsylvania men’s track and field team and the 3,200-meter relay team ran the meet’s fastest preliminary time with a near-school record on Saturday during the middle day of the three-day IC4A Outdoor Championships at Weaver Track Stadium in Princeton, N.J.

Of the 35 teams that have scored thus far, the Quakers sit in 22nd-place with the five points from Abitante, while the 3,200-meter relay is the top seed entering Sunday’s final.

Abitante finished fourth in the pole vault to get the Quakers their first points of the 2009 Outdoor IC4A Championships. Only three vaulters cleared five meters and Abitante was just one of the four to surpass the bar past 4.80 meters. The product of Berkley Heights, N.J., finished at 4.95 meters (16 feet, 2 ¾ inches). His season will continue at the NCAA Regionals on May 29-30.

The 3,200-meter relay, featuring 800-meter Regional qualifiers Brian Fulton and Darryll Oliver will have a chance at the IC4A championship Sunday after tying La Salle for the best preliminary finish in the 25-team field. The finish of 7:26.08 was nearly 20 seconds better than the Quakers’ previous best finish this season of 7:44.29 at the Penn Invite. The time was also less than two seconds off the school record which was set by hand time 33 years ago.

Senior Max Westman took the weekend off from the decathlon to rest and prepare for the event at the NCAA East Regional Championships in two weeks. That meant the first event of the meet for the Quakers was the 400-meter relay team coming off one of the eighth-best performance in school history.

With the same foursome that won the Outdoor Heptagonal Championship six days ago, seniors Kevin Benjamin, Joey Brown and Kevin Baidoo, and sophomore Alan Hill finished second in their heat by one-hundredth of a second. Baidoo finished the last 100 meters and clocked out the Red and Blue squad at 41.63, but it was just more than a tenth of a second from qualifying for the IC4A finals on Sunday. Overall, they finished 11th out of the 27 teams that ran in the event. The team will compete at least once more when they run at the NCAA Regionals.

Senior Bryan Scotland finished his career in the 800 meters, running the event for the final time in a red and blue striped uniform on Saturday. The East Orange, N.J., native ran to a finish of 1:53.24, which was his second-best time of the outdoor season and placed 29th in the highly competitive event. The top 11 runners in the field ran NCAA qualifying times in the preliminaries on Saturday, meaning that two of them did not even reach the IC4A final.

In the 400-meter hurdles, junior Jeremy Sinclair was 19th and sophomore Taylor Neason was 27th. Sinclair’s season came to a close with his fourth sub-54 second finish at 53.88, while Neason’s time of 54.52 was only bested by his career-best efforts at the Heptagonal Championships.

In the final event of the day, just a half of a second separated the 1,600-meter relay team from qualifying for the finals. The team ran the second-best relay of the season, finishing in a time of 3:14.64, but finished 12th out of 26 teams and, despite having the second-best time in their heat, just missed the cut of 3:13.96 to reach the finals.

On Sunday, Penn will have the 3,200-meter relay team in action. The event is the second to last race of the championship meet and will begin at 2:50 p.m. Junior John Carelli, a Regional qualifier, will compete in the triple jump at 11 a.m.