Track & Field Heads to NCAA East Preliminary

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PHILADELPHIA - A program-record 16 members of the University of Pennsylvania track & field team are set to compete in the opening rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Jacksonville, Fla., May 28-30.

In all, the Quakers willcompete in 12 events at the NCAA East Preliminary Round inside North Florida's Hodges Stadium this weekend.

Competition begins on Thursday for Penn when junior Kelsey Hayand sophomore Lisa Sesink-Clee compete in the javelin at noon. The first member of the Red and Blue to take the track will be senior Tom Timminswhen he steps into the blocks for the NCAA First Round of the 400-meter hurdles at 5 p.m.

Shortly after, junior Gabrielle Cuccia and sophomore Ashley Montgomery attempt to advance in the women's 1,500 meters at 5:30 p.m., while sophomore Chris Hatler will run in the men's event at 6 p.m.

Sophomore Carey Celata will run for a spot in the quarterfinals of the 800 meters at 8:10 p.m., and sophomore Brendan Shearn will cap the first day of competition in the 10,000 meters at 9:40 p.m.If they advance, Timmins and Celata will also compete on the second day of competition, whileHatler, Montgomery and Cuccia would run in the NCAA Quarterfinals of their events on the final day.

Friday will mark a big day in the field for the men as freshman Mike Monroe and junior Tom Pitt compete in the high jump at 5 p.m., and junior Sam Mattis and sophomore Noah Kennedy-Whitecompete in the discus at 4 p.m.

Also on Friday, the Quakers will be represented in both steeplechase events. Women's school record holder Amy Darlington will start at 8:50 p.m., and Heps champion Nick Tuck begins his race at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday features the national semifinals of the men's and women's 5,000 meters. Cleo Whiting starts at 8:05 p.m., followed by Tom Awad in the men's race at 8:45 p.m.

The Quakers have set the school record for NCAA qualifiers in each of the first three years under Director of Track & Field/Cross CountrySteve Dolan. In his first season, Penn sent a program-high 11 individuals to the NCAA's, followed by 14 last season. In addition, the seven women's qualifiers this year are a program recordsince the current NCAA format began in 2010, and the nine men's qualifiers are second-most in program history to last year's record of 11.

The NCAA Championship meet extends over two weekends in a three-week span at three different sites. The first weekend - known as the NCAA Preliminary Round - is broken up into two different sites - East (Jacksonville, Fla.) and West (Austin, Texas), which host the NCAA first round and quarterfinal round in each event as well as some of the NCAA semifinals.

The top 48 in each event qualify for the NCAA Preliminary rounds where the top 12 finishers from the East Preliminary and the top 12 from the West will advance to compete in the finals of the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 10-13.

A full recap of the opening rounds of the NCAA Championships will be available at shortly after the conclusion of each day's events.