WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - In the first outdoor meet of the year for the University of Pennsylvania women's track and field team, sophomore Leslie Kovach obliterated a school record that had stood for 26 years en route to a victory in the 10,000 meters and the second-fastest time in the nation at the Wake Forest Open in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Kovach, who set the school standard in the indoor 5,000 meters earlier this month, knocked nearly a full minute off of Chris Bauer's record of 36:12.44 set in 1985. By the end of the race, it was just Kovach against the clock as she topped the nearest competitor in the 17-woman field by three and a half minutes. When she crossed the finish line, the new school record stood at 35:21.20. That stands as the second-fastest time in the nation this year, trailing the national leader by one-tenth of a second.
In the 100-meter hurdles, freshman Gabrielle Piper placed second and recorded the sixth-fastest time in program history. In the preliminaries, she placed third and clocked out at 14.12 to enter the school record books. She then finished as the runner-up in the finals with a time of 14.26.
Junior Victoria Strickland had an impressive finish of 2:14.34 in the 800 meters. It placed her third in a field of 93 competitors. Senior Laura Steel also had a third-place showing. She finished the 5,000 meters in 17:46.92 and was closely followed by freshman Margaret Diacont . Diacont finished fifth in the 50-woman field with a time of 18:14.45. Shortly thereafter, freshman Christine Cohick crossed the finish line at 18:24.23 to place eighth.
In the high jump, junior Kristen Judge tied for fourth at 1.63 meters, while sophomore Davielle Brown finished sixth in the pole vault at 3.30 meters.
Penn will host the first of three straight meets at Franklin Field on Saturday. The Big 5 Invite preceeds the Penn Invite (April 2) and the Penn-Yale-Princeton meet (April 9).