PHILADELPHIA - For the last three years the Penn men’s track team has finished third at the Heptagonal Championships.The Quakers areready to make their move in the League, and with a talented squad and depth, they could do it this weekend.
“Looking at this weekend, it is a four-team meet between Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton and Penn. It’s going to come down to the head-to-head matchups,” Head Coach Charlie Powell said. “The relays are going to be very important for everyone, and it may come down to who wins those events. After the favorites (in each event) anything can happen, it’ about scoring as many points and getting those fourth and fifth-place finishes.”
All-American Courtney Jaworskileads the Penn brigade. Jaworski, a two-time 800 Heptagonal Indoor Champion, broke the meet record in Cambridge, Mass. last year. He could become only the third three-time champion in event in League history. The senior from Tacoma, Wash. ran the second fastest time in Penn history in the mile and provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in that event. His time in both events are best in the League.
Rookie Kevin Benjamin and junior Grafton Ifill are the best Penn sprinters. Benjamin comes in with the second best time in the 60m and the best in the 200m. Benjamin’s 21.86 in the 200m is third all-time in the Penn annals. Ifill, who has seen limited competition in the winter is third in the 60m in the League. Junior Michael Bale has the ninth best time in the 60m hurdles. Another rookie, Sam Shepard, leads the Quakers in the 400m and along with senior veteran Eric Ljunquist could come up with some points in that event.
Jaworski is not the Red and Blue’s only strength in the middle distance events, in fact, the Quakers have a trio of well-rounded middle distance runners in freshman Brian Scotland and sophomores Tim Kaijala and John Guzman. Kaijala’s time in the 800m is third best and Scotland’s is eighth. Guzman finished seventh in this event a year ago. In the distance events, Penn will look to junior Ian Foley and senior Breton Bonnette for strong performances.
The duo of Mike Hall and Kyle Calvo will look to finish at the top of the pack in the heptathlon. Hall won the event last winter and Calvo finished second. This year, Calvo broke the Penn program and provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships with a score of 5,266.
Calvo will also be a strong contender in the long jump. He was the runner-up last season and won the title outdoors in the spring. His jump of 24-8 is best in the League by almost a foot and is an NCAA provisional mark. Hall will be a strong contender in the 60m hurdles and the pole vault where he has the 10th best mark in the League in both. Sophomore Pete Habegger is looking to improve upon his third-place finish in the long jump a season ago and has the sixth best leap this year. Newcomer Anthony Abitante sits third in the pole vault with a mark of 15-3.
Penn is one of three teams to run under 3:15 in the 4x400m relay. Cornell and Yale are the other two and all teams are within .30 seconds of each other. The Quakers have the best time in the distance medley relay, which just missed provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The 4x800m relay time is also among the top-eight, and the Red and Blue will look to defend their title in that event.
Penn will travel to Hanover, N.H. this weekend for the 2006 Heptagonal Championships. Competition will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 and continue Sunday, Feb. 26 at 10:30 a.m. For complete results log on to the Ivy League web site. A full recap of Penn’s performances will appear on the Penn Athletics web site at the conclusion of competition each day.