Men's Track and Field in Fifth Place After Day One of Heptagonals

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PHILADELPHIA – Competing on their home surface, the University of Pennsylvania men’s track and field team has qualified 11 athletes - second most - into the finals and stand in fifth place with 16 points after day one of the 2009 Outdoor Heptagonal Championships at Franklin Field Saturday. Penn also has two decathletes competing Sunday as 16 of the 21 event finals are still to come on the final day.

Anthony Abitante was the highlight of the day for the Quakers, nearly claiming the Heptagonal championship in one of the most competitive events of the meet. It would take a near IC4A qualifying mark to even score in the pole vault, but Abitante claimed eight impressive points for the Red and Blue with his second-place finish. The junior had little trouble reaching his final height of 5.15 meters (16 feet, 10 ¾ inches) as he never needed more than two attempts to surpass that point. When the bar was raised again, Abitante just nearly missed on his three attempts at a new career-best height of 5.20 meters.

Junior John Carelli – the runner-up in the long jump at the 2009 Indoor Heptagonals - nearly duplicated the feat in the outdoor competition. After Carelli’s third jump of the day was measured off at 7.14 meters (23-05.25 ft.), the indoor second-team All-Ivy honoree sat in second-place until the final jump. On the final attempt from Yale’s Reynolds Holmes, he matched Carelli’s season-best effort. The second-best jump for the competitors is used as the tie-breaker, meaning Carelli needed at least a leap of 7.03 to finish as runner-up. The native of Allentown, Pa., came agonizingly close, falling just three centimeters short on his final leap to finish third.

Junior Russ Koch garnered the first points of the meet for the Quakers with a fifth-place finish in the javelin. Koch had his best throw of the season on his second attempt of the day, and then bested that effort when his second throw of the finals landed at 54.23 meters (177-11 ft.).

As usual, the 800-meter final will have its share of Red and Blue pinstripes, but it may be hard to top the performances from the Quakers in the preliminaries on Saturday. In an event that has been won by a Penn athlete in each of the last six years, underclassmen Darryll Oliver and Brian Fulton will run for the Quakers in the final.

Oliver qualified for the NCAA Regionals, winning the first heat with a career-best time of 1:49.66. Three heats later, Fulton nearly equaled his teammate, breaking 1:50.00 for the first time in his collegiate career and qualifying for the NCAA Regionals with a time of 1:49.74. The two are now side-by-side in the school record book as Oliver’s finish stands as the eighth-best all-time at Penn, while Fulton’s is currently ninth-best. Senior Bryan Scotland just missed the eight-man cut, finishing ninth despite a season-best time of 1:51.78.

Senior Max Westman leads the decathlon after the first day of competition. Westman led from the start, winning each of the first two events. He garnered more than 800 points in the opening event with a time of 11.18 in the 100 meters, and then extended his advantage in the long jump, leaping to a season-best 6.82 meters (22 feet, 4 ½ inches). After a fourth-place showing in the shot put and a fifth-place finish in the high jump, Westman’s lead was down to 20 points. However, with a winning time of 49.78 in the 400 meters, the Bala Cynwyd, Pa., native has 3,613 points and leads his nearest competitor by 212 heading into the final five events on Sunday.

Freshman Jeff Seddon is also in strong scoring position in the decathlon after the first day. Seddon’s best event was the 100 meters where he grabbed 717 points, finishing fourth at 11.67. By day’s end, the Long Branch Township, N.J., product was sixth with 3,002 points. Sunday’s final five events include the 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and the 1,500 meters.

Senior Sam Shepherd will be the Penn representative in the 400 meters after his IC4A qualifying finish of 48.15. It placed him second in his heat and is the sixth-best mark heading into the finals.

Two Quakers will be in the finals of the 100 meters. Seniors Joey Brown and Kevin Benjamin each reached the Sunday race with season-best performances. Brown nearly had a new career-best, finishing at 10.68, while Benjamin came in at 10.92. Benjamin will also run in the 200 meters on Sunday after finishing sixth in the preliminaries with a time of 22.11.

Penn will also be well represented in the hurdles events. Junior Willie Harris (15.09) and Westman (15.11) will compete in the finals of the 110-meter hurdles, while sophomore Taylor Neason (54.07), junior Jeremy Sinclair (54.12) and senior Doug McPherson (54.92) are all in Sunday’s 400-meter hurdles.

The final day of the 2009 Outdoor Heptagonals from Franklin Field begins at 10 a.m. with the shot put and concludes with the crowning of the team champions at 5:20 p.m.

Standings

1. Princeton, 37
2. Cornell, 33
3. Dartmouth, 25
4. Brown, 20
5. Penn, 16
6. Harvard, 15
7. Yale, 9
8. Columbia, 0