Senior All-American Brian Chaput will lead the Quakers in their quest for national glory
Sept. 10, 2003
The 2003-04 University of Pennsylvania track and field program will try to build from last year's historic season to once again set the national track scene on fire. The Quakers return a multitude of Heptagonal Champions, Regional qualifiers, All-Americans and a defending NCAA Champion to Franklin Field this season and expect to be a highly competitive program. Leading the Red and Blue this season will be captains Brian Chaput, Chris Edmonds, Tom Vonreichbauer and Matt Wedge.
These student-athletes hope to add a third Heptagonal title in four years to their already impressive resumes. In the past three years, Penn track and field has seen tremendous growth as a program and a large part of that is due to the personality of this year's senior class. From day one they have recognized what a privilege it is to run for such a storied program. In short, these student-athletes know how to win. Each captain has been extremely successful at Penn and their names will be heard in the same breath as former Quaker greats like Abram, Burley, Carr, Collins, Cox, Fikes, Harper, Kraenzlein, MacMillan, Samara, Shine, Szabadhegy, Taylor and Wreh.
This year's squad will use the experience gained from last year's 11th place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to restock the arsenal. The Quakers have acquired multiple state champions and national class athletes from 13 states to give depth to Penn track and field. The program's goal remains simple - finish at the top of the League and make its presence felt nationally. Penn's incoming class has recognized the tradition of Penn track and field and is committed to continuing its legacy.
Penn has made a commitment to continue its outstanding legacy and each athlete is given every opportunity to become a regional and national champion. For well over 100 years, the University of Pennsylvania has been synonymous with excellence in track and field. The program has produced several Olympians, numerous NCAA Champions and has fostered the exponential growth of the world famous Penn Relays. In addition to the program's success on a global and national level, the Quakers have demonstrated dominance within the Ivy League. In the past 31 years alone, the Red and Blue have had 15 first-place finishes and eight second-place finishes at the indoor and outdoor Heptagonal Championships.
The 2003-04 squad will do its best to follow in this long standing championship heritage. The Penn track and field family is built upon hard work, intensity and pride, which allows every student-athlete on the team to create world class performances and life-long memories.
After a a roller coaster rebuilding season that saw Penn finish fifth-place at the NCAA Regional meet, the Quakers are looking to dramatically improve during the 2003 fall campaign. The strength of the team is entering their junior seasons and are poised to mix it up with the best in the League. Juniors Nolan Tully, Stephen Hayes and All-American Dusty Lieb are expected to be a formidable trio that could place in the top 10 of any race they enter. Each is capable of being an All-Ivy selection during the upcoming harrier schedule. On the track, this trio has accounted for many outstanding performances as all produced NCAA qualifying times as sophomores. Lieb is the leader of this talented group and is looking to repeat his All-American season of 2002, and possibly move up from his 26th place finish at NCAAs.
The tremendous leadership strength of the top end of the Red and Blue should help the remainder of the squad to excellent finishes throughout the season. Joining Tully, Hayes and Leib is a large group of runners that should add the depth that the Quakers have lacked in past seasons. Senior Joe Fabiani, juniors Dan Treglia, Matt VavAntwerp and George Weiner and sophomore Bretton Bonnette are part of an emerging group that will vie for the remaining top spots. The Quakers will also benefit from the talent that has been brought in by a strong freshman class. Those looking to make an immediate impact in their inaugural season are John Brackman, Michael Cassidy, Brady Ferguson, Ian Foley, Ryan Hamill, Eric Pauley, James Roat, Laurent Van Hassel and Troy Werner.
The Quakers will once again look to the talented sprint squad to score a large majority of its points in 2004. Penn consistently seems to have a Heptagonal Champion in one, if not all of the sprint events, and the coaching staff expects nothing less from this year's squad. A key for the Quakers this season will be the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays. Leading both relays will be senior Chris Edmonds, whois quickly emerging as the talk of the League as he exhibits unparalleled strength in his races. He is expected to drop his 400m time to the low 46s in 2004, while running in the low 21s in the 200m, a combination that should help Edmonds attempt to capture the 200/400 double at the Heptagonal Championships.
Senior Chris Edmonds hopes to claim another 400 meter Heptagonal title in 2004.
Joining Edmonds on the 4 x 100m squad is anchor and hurdling sensation senior Matt Wedge. Wedge's strength and fitness level will be crucial to the success of the team throughout the season. In addition to his short sprint and hurdling duties, Wedge will also show his versatility as a 400m runner as he is a likely replacement for 2003 graduate and eight-time Heptagonal Champion Brian Abram in the 4 x 400m relay.
Also among the fastest men on campus are senior Luqman Kolade and junior Chris Carter. Both have produced impressive 400m legs in the past and have the potential to be national qualifiers in their individual events in 2004.
Filling the remainder of the relays and sprint squad should not be too difficult with the amount of talent that has been developing over the past two years. Among the Quakers who have shown early successes is junior Tony Archibong. Archibong did a great job running the leadoff leg in the 4 x 100m relay this past season and should again be a huge factor in Penn's attempt to win another Heptagonal relay title.
Sophomores Pete Cochran and Joel Miller have also shown tremendous promise. Both Cochran and Miller filled in as replacements in 2003, but are now vying to be permanent members of each squad. Archibong, Cochran and Miller, along with junior Oyebode Fajobi, could each challenge the League's best in all races ranging from 60 to 400 meters. Despite their immense talent, only time will tell if they will develop into Heptagonal Champions. Joining this group will be freshmen Cody Schovitz.
Due to the world-class performance of 2003 graduate and current volunteer assistant coach Sam Burley, the Quakers' middle distance squad has gained much national attention. Although the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Champion in the 800m has left a large void to fill, Burley's contributions as assistant coach should help the young stable of runners on Penn's roster produce top finishes for the Quakers.
Leading the Quakers in the middle distance races will be sophomore Matt Evans. Evans has tremendous potential and seems to have the physical gifts necessary to become great. Evans was the PIAA State champion in the 800m in 2002.
Joining Evans is senior Joe Plevelich, a former PIAA Champion who is looking to improve on his junior campaign to have a breakthrough senior season. Plevelich, a perennial Heps finalist, is looking to place very high in 2004.
Juniors Scott Sebens and Hayes will also contribute in the middle distances. Both have the potential to score in the 1000m and mile in all major championship meets. They have both scored at Heps and IC4As and aim to be among the League's best in their respective events. As established upperclassmen, they will be looked upon to lead a large contingent of Penn middle-distance athletes to the NCAA Qualifying meet in late May.
The Quakers will have much depth as they step out onto the track this season, as there is the potential to have five student-athletes who can run under 1:50 in the 800 meters. If healthy seasons are in store for junior Mike Lang and sophomore Mark Materna, they will only add to what could be one of the deepest middle distance crew on the east coast. Also joining the Quakers this season are national standouts freshman Carson Schmiett and Georgetown transfer Courtney Jaworski.
Senior Matt Wedge will lead a strong hurdles group in 2003-04.
Penn will also have depth in the hurdle events, as last year's hurdle group accounted for 28 points and two individual champions at the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships. Leading the talented core in 2004 is Wedge, who hopes to add to the streak of six-consecutive high hurdle victories that Penn athletes have accounted for since 2001. He had a sensational year in 2003 winning both the indoor and outdoor high hurdle championships. He should break both the indoor and outdoor school records in 2004 with times expected to be in the 7.85 and 13.70 range, respectively. His potential is unlimited and he could possibly qualify for the Olympic Trials in July 2004.
Joining Wedge will be freshmen Odun Balogun and Michael Bale, who were each state champions in high school, but will now have to prove themselves at the next level. It will be exciting to see them progress over the next four years, hopefully in the way Wedge has since his arrival in 2000.
The Quakers will also look to Kolade to regain the form of 2002, when he finished third at the Heps. Already a conference champion in the 4 x 400m, he is looking to lead a young group of 400m hurdlers and score the much needed points in that event. Kolade has the potential to capture the 400m hurdle title in his final Heptagonal meet.
Rounding out the hurdle core will be juniors Pete Garofalo and Lawrence Gibson and sophomore Bob Budesa.
Penn will once again showcase national class competitors in the throwing events during the upcoming season. Leading the throwing group is senior All-American and reigning NCAA javelin champion Brian Chaput. Last season, Chaput won virtually every major title. In April, he started a record-setting six-week streak by winning the Penn Relays, Heptagonal, IC4A, Regional and NCAA javelin titles. He not only broke the existing school and Ivy records, but smashed it by an amazing 20 feet with a 258'2" throw at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif. He has world-class talent and it is very likely that you will see him wearing red, white and blue at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece next summer.
Following in the shadows of Chaput is sophomore javelin thrower Jim Malizia. Talented in his own right, Malizia was without a doubt Penn's most successful freshman in 2003. He qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships meet and just missed placing on Penn's top-10 all-time list in his inaugural campaign.
Penn's strength in the throws is not limited to the javelin. Seniors Justin King and Vonreichbauer will both be looking for their first conference crowns in 2004 in the discus. However in their quest for titles, they may find that they are each other's toughest competition. Both stand eighth and 10th, respectively on Penn's all-time list and both aim to move up. The duo should provide some interesting competitions as they battle for Ivy League supremacy.
Another throwing standout is junior Mike Sangobowale, who is the fastest improving shot put and discus thrower on the team. The experience gained last season has given him the confidence to take on the best in the league and become a scorer in both events in 2004.
Also returning to action after a year off is senior shot putter Brendan Callahan. He has enjoyed success on the collegiate level and should quickly regain the form that allowed him to be an IC4A qualifier during his first three seasons. Joining this group will be freshman Anthony Waverly.
Senior high jumper Adam Chubb has assumed the leadership role of the jump crew for the 2004 season. He is the school record holder in the high jump with a jump of 7'2 1/2" and battled back from injury to return to national-class form in 2003. Chubb was the Penn Relays runner-up and narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships in May of last year. He is determined to go out with a bang this season by winning Penn Relays, Heptagonal and IC4A titles.
Joining Chubb in the high jump is Nameir Majette, who narrowly missed placing at the Heptagonal Championships a year ago.
The team also utilizes the skills of two exceptional pole vaulters, junior Neal Wojdowski and senior Zack Suttile. Wojdowski was the surprise Ivy League champion in 2002 during his inaugural campaign and will be looking to raise the bar to heights above 17 feet in the upcoming season.
Suttile was the most consistent vaulter of the group in 2003 and will utilize the momentum from last year's productive season to challenge Wojdowski every time out.
Another key member to the Quakers success will be junior Chris Carter, who is coming off a medical redshirt and is now as healthy as ever. He performed admirably during the indoor season, where he achieved All-East status with his third-place showing in the pentathlon. He has the potential to win the pentathlon indoors at the Heps and IC4A meet and will likely become an All-American in the decathlon by the time he graduates. Carter should score between 7100-7500 points this season. He will relied upon to lead the long jumpers with the help of classmate Brent James and sophomore Pete Cochran. Rounding out the jump crew is sophomore Michael Daley, who enjoyed some success as a freshman in the triple jump, but will be looking to improve this season. Daley should produce jumps in the 48' range and be a scorer at both the indoor and outdoor Heptagonal meets.
Written by Jamie Cook