PHILADELPHIA - Nearly among the nation's Top 25 for the first time in program history, the University of Pennsylvania track and field teams have gathered a lot of momentum as the postseason continues this weekend. The men are ranked 28th in the nation with the teams heading into the IC4A/ECAC Championships at Princeton's Weaver Stadium, May 16-18.
Behind last week's impressive performance at the Heptagonal Championships -- where Penn's four men's individual Heps titles marked the most for the program since 2005 and tied for the most at the meet -- the Quakers jumped to their second-highest national ranking in team history. Since the current Top 25 began in 2008, Penn had never been ranked among the Top 50, but the men have been above that mark for three straight weeks, including a program-best 27th. In addition, the men (fourth) and women (eighth) are both among the Top 10 in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Last week, the Quakers won a total of five Heptagonal Championships and the men impressed with a fourth-place team finish. A quartet of sophomores stood atop the podium in Brendan Smith (men's steeplechase), Kelsey Hay (women's javelin), Sam Mattis (men's discus) and Thomas Awad (men's 10,000 meters). Meanwhile, senior Maalik Reynolds won his fifth Heps championship in the men's high jump and senior Gabrielle Piper garnered her seventh career All-Ivy honor with a second-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles.
Though some Quakers are solidly in the NCAA field, the IC4A and ECAC Championships will provide others a last chance to make the cut for the NCAA Championships. In each region, the top 48 marks in each event qualify for the NCAA Preliminary Rounds.
The meet begins on Friday with the multi's at noon and the distance events at 7 p.m. Saturday resumes with the multi's at 9 a.m., and continues through the 4x400-meter relay trials at 6 p.m. The final day of competition begins at 9 a.m. with the IC4A shot put and the meet concludes after the 4x400 relays at 3 p.m.
At this meet last year, Penn was the only school to have multiple scorers in the women's javelin. Hay was sixth after her second toss of the day landed at 45.12 meters (148 feet). Morgan Wheeler was eighth heading into the finals and moved into seventh with her second-to-last throw of the day landing at 44.58 meters (146-03 ft.). Meanwhile, Reynolds lost the tiebreaker for the IC4A title in the high jump, but earned silver with a season-best effort of 2.20 meters (7 feet, 2 1/2 inches). Mattis was also third in the discus.
A full recap of the 2014 IC4A/ECAC Championships will be available at PennAthletics.com shortly after the completion of the meet.