JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Make it five. Junior Thomas Awad capped the NCAA East Preliminary Round on Saturday night when he became the fifth member of the the University of Pennsylvania track & field teams to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Awad won his heat of the 5,000 meters under the lightsat North Florida's Hodges Stadiumto earn his spot in the NCAA Finals. The five-time Heps champion took the lead in his heat with two laps to go and broke the tape at 13:57.40. Following the second heat, that time was good enough for second overall.
Earlier this season, Awad became the third man in school history to win cross country, indoor and outdoor Heps titles in the same year (Robert Childs, 1972; Dave Merrick, 1975 cross country and 1976 track).In two weeks, he will compete for the national title in the 5,000 meters at Oregon's famed Hayward Field.
On the women's side, sophomore Cleo Whitingcompeted in the national semifinals of the 5,000 meters. She finished 22nd in her heat and 42nd overall with a time of 17:03.20. In addition to her NCAA appearance, Whiting capped an impressive second season at Penn as she scored at all three Heps meets (cross country, indoor, outdoor) and earned all-region honors in cross country for the second straight season. She will enter her junior season ranked among Penn's all-time top five in seven different events.
In all, Penn sent a program-record 16 athletes to the NCAA East Preliminaries. The five representatives at the NCAA Championships will be the most for Penn since the turn of the century.
On the first day of competition, junior Kelsey Hay qualified for the NCAA finals in the women's javelin with an Ivy League-record toss. The following day, junior Sam Mattis and Noah Kennedy-White each earned a spot in Eugene in the men's discus, while freshman Mike Monroequalified for the NCAA Championships in the high jump.
Awad, Hay, Mattis, Kennedy-White and Monroe will all represent the Quakers at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 10-13 at Hayward Field.