Kovach Sets School Record at 117th Penn Relays


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PHOTOS: Penn at the Penn Relays

PHILADELPHIA - Sophomore Leslie Kovach highlighted the 117th running of the Penn Relays for the University of Pennsylvania women's track and field team with a school record-breaking performance in the 5,000 meters at Franklin Field this weekend.

Also at the world's oldest and largest relay carnival, the Quakers posted the fifth-fastest 4x100-meter relay in program history. The meet's three-day attendance total was 110,087, marking the eighth straight year and the 11th time in the last 12 years in which that mark surpassed 100,000 spectators.

Against some of the best competition in the nation, Kovach made school history with her fourth-place finish of 16:11.59 in the 5,000 meters. She stayed ahead of the pack throughout the race and held third place for a time until she was passed for fourth with two laps to go. She topped her previous career best by nearly a half minute and knocked off Stacy Kim's school record (16:20.46) by an impressive nine seconds.

Penn reached the ECAC 4x100-meter final with the fifth-fastest time in school history on Thursday. Less than 24 hours later, they supplanted that time with a fourth-place finish of 46.74. Paige Madison, Kali Strother, Leah Brown and Gabrielle Piper ran the event on both days for the Quakers - each performance set a season-best for the Red and Blue in the 4x100.

Freshman Morgan Wheeler also dented the school record book on the first day. She moved up four spots to fifth-place in Penn's all-time records. Her career-best toss measured 43.02 meters (141 feet, 1 inch) and placed her sixth at the meet. It was the best toss for any Quaker in the last seven years (Kai Ivory in 2004).

The 4x200-meter relay qualified as an alternate for the ECAC final with the fourth-best time in program history. Nony Onyeador, Brown, Piper and Strother combined for a time of 1:40.33. It was the fastest 4x200 for the Quakers since the 2009 Penn Relays (1:39.77).

The record book took another hit on Saturday with the 4x800-meter relay team. The Quakers placed third in the College Final as they completed the 3,200 meters in 8:53.21. It is the third-best mark in that event in program history and the fastest for a Penn team since 2008.

Also on Thursday, the Quakers were third in the Heptagonal 4x400-meter relay. The Quakers foursome of Victoria Strickland, Madison, Strother and Brown finished in 3:45.11. The same group ran the final in a near identical time on Saturday. They finished seventh in the ECAC final with a time of 3:45.64.

Next up for the Quakers is the Heptagonal Championships in New Haven, Conn, on May 7-8.

Penn at The Penn Relays:
100-Meter Hurdles: 27-Piper (14.71)
400-Meter Hurdles: 37-Madison (1:02.67)
3,000 Meters: 25-Steel (10:02.80)
5,000 Meters: 4-Kovach (16:11.69)
4x100 Relay: 28-Penn (46.83)
4x100 ECAC Final: 4-Penn (46.74)
4x200 Relay: 28-Penn (1:40.33)
4x400 Relay: 3-Penn (3:45.11)
4x400 ECAC Final: 7-Penn (3:45.64)
4x800 College Final: 3-Penn (8:53.21)
Pole Vault: 23-D. Brown (3.50m)
High Jump: 10-Judge (1.68m)
Discus: 18-Rich (40.69m)
Hammer: 25-Pope (44.76m)
Javelin: 6-Wheeler (43.02m)
Shot put: 24-Pope (12.59m)