ITHACA, N.Y. - Sophomore Gabrielle Piper set a school record in the 60-meter hurdles, four of the eight qualifiers in the 60 meters were Quakers and three more Penn athletes reached the 200 finals. It was quite a start for the University of Pennsylvania women's track and field team at the 2012 Heptagonal Indoor Championships inside Cornell's Barton Hall Saturday afternoon.
Junior Davielle Brown accounted for all three of Penn's points on Day One. Columbia leads the team scoring heading into the final day of competition with 34 points. The majority of the finals will take place on Sunday. At Heps, the top eight advance past the preliminaries and the top-six finishers will score in the finals of each event on Championship Sunday.
Only Harvard had more Day One qualifiers than the Quakers. Piper got things started with the best 60-meter hurdles time in the history of Penn women's track and field. She and Susan Scavone of Brown were well ahead of the field in each of their heats. Piper's time of 8.58 topped the school record of 8.64 that she had set at the 2011 Heptagonals. It was just behind Scavone's time of 8.53 to place her second overall in the preliminary race.
A few moments later, Penn showed off its depth in the sprints. Four of the 60-meter qualifiers were wearing the Red and Blue uniform. And all four of them now rank in the Top 5 all-time at Penn. Each one finished at 7.70 or better. Entering the meet, only four Quakers in the history of the program had ever reached that number.
Piper briefly posted the second-best time in program history when she finished with a collegiate-best effort of 7.64. But just two heats later, senior Leah Brown slid into that spot in the school record book with her time of 7.62. Meanwhile, junior Nony Onyeador (7.69) and freshman Lydia Ali (7.70) claimed two more spots in the finals for Penn. No other school has more than one qualifer in the event. The career-best effort for Onyeador moved her into fifth all-time among Quakers.
The Penn sprinters continued to dominate in the 200 meters. Three more Quakers advanced to Day Two. Piper qualified for her third individual event on Championship Sunday and dented the school record book for the third time in three different events. Her time of 25.43 is 10th-best in Penn women's history. Brown assured that she will be busy on the final day of competition as she qualified for the finals with a time of 25.44 - less than a tenth of a second off her personal best. But Ali had the best day in the event. She improved upon her sixth-place time in the school record book with a collegiate-best effort of 25.13.
Due to her consistency, Davielle Brown won the tiebreaker over four other competitors for fourth place in the pole vault. That included her teammate Jillian Hart. Both Quakers cleared the bar at 3.70 meters (12 feet, 1 1/2 inches) - which stands as third-best all-time at Penn. It was a career-best performance from Brown and Hart matched her collegiate-best height. Brown earned the points by surpassing the first three heights with a total of just one miss.
Sunday's first event is the 60-meter hurdles at 11 a.m. and concludes with the 4x400-meter relay finals at 3:35 p.m. The awards ceremony, where the 2012 Heptagonal Indoor championship team will officially be crowned, is set to take place at 4:15 p.m.