PHILADELPHIA - As the 2008-09 season progressed, so did the University of Pennsylvania men's track and field team, peaking with a third-place finish at the 2009 Outdoor Heptagonal Championships in addition to a multitude of individual honors. Below is a brief synopsis of Penn's three seasons of competition last year.
Penn began the 2008 cross country campaign with a pair of second-place team finishes at the Old Nassau Run, led by Chris Baird’s victory in the 8K race. Baird was consistently one of the top finishers for Penn throughout the season as he was the first Quaker to cross the finish line in the first three meets and never finished lower than third amongst his teammates.
Luke Grau was also a premier runner for the Red and Blue last season as he was the top finisher at the NCAA Pre-Nationals and Heptagonal Championships. Both Baird and Grau return for the Quakers in 2009 along with underclassmen Kevin Sullivan, who scored for the Quakers at the NCAA Regional meet in November. At that meet, Penn’s trio of Baird, Sullivan and Grau followed seniors Sean McGinley and Brian Trembley to combine for an eighth-place finish for Penn in the Mid-Atlantic region.
During the 2009 indoor season, six different Quakers entered Penn’s all-time top 10 lists in their respective events—and five of them will be on the roster again in 2009—two Quakers won All-Ivy honors, and John Carelli claimed the Heptagonal triple jump championship.
Carelli had an impressive indoor campaign as he became just the eighth Quaker in program history to surpass 15 meters in the triple jump, and also finished second in the long jump at Heptagonals. Max Westman, in his final indoor season, was the Heptagonal runner-up in the heptathlon, earning All-Ivy recognition. Also during the season, he ran the fourth-best 60 meters in Penn history. Meanwhile, Brian Fulton, in his first indoor season, entered the illustrious 800-meter section of the Penn record book in just his third meet in the Red and Blue.
It was an accomplished indoor season, but it was just a glimpse into the success the Quakers would have during the outdoor portion of their schedule.
Accolades were abundant during the outdoor season as Penn accumulated six first-team and two second team All-Ivy honorees, five All-East honorees, six Heptagonal champions, 19 IC4A qualifiers in 23 events, and nine NCAA Regional qualifiers. In addition, four individuals and one relay reached the school record books.
More importantly, the Quakers finished third as a team at the Heptagonal meet, impressing the home crowd at Franklin Field and reclaiming their place among the elites in the Ivy League. The 4x100m relay team finished with the eighth-best time in school history (40.83) to win the Ivy championship, while Darryll Oliver continued Penn’s traditional dominance in the 800 meters, as he became the seventh consecutive Quaker to win the title.
Westman won the heptagonal championship in the decathlon, but his most impressive accomplishment of the season came two weeks earlier when he became the first Penn athlete in 77 years to win the decathlon at the Penn Relays.
Prior to closing out the season with several individual Quakers and one relay team competing at the NCAA East Regional Championships, Penn’s 4x800m relay ran the second-fastest time in school history in scoring at the IC4A Championships.