Women's Track and Field Finishes Fifth at Indoor Heptagonals

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Junior Anna Aagenes provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in a runner-up effort in the 800 meters for the University of Pennsylvania women's track and field team at the 2009 Indoor Heptagonal Championships from Harvard's Gordon Track on Sunday. The Quakers finished in fifth-place as a team for the second straight year.

"With our group, fifth place is a really good step for us," head coach Gwen Harris said. "The team has worked hard and with so many freshman at this meet there isn't much more that you can ask for. The young kids did great and we got a lot of compliments from teams and alumni. We're proud of this group."

Aagenes had the best 800-meter race of her career and now ranks second all-time in the event at Penn. However, despite her NCAA provisional time of 2:08.80, Aagenes just missed claiming the Heptagonal championship, finishing behind Yale's Kate Grace (2:07.83). Aagenes will have one more chance to improve upon her NCAA time at the ECAC Championships before the NCAA field is decided.

"Anna had a really nice race," said Harris. "She did a fine job staying with the leader. She didn't back off and she kept challenging her and you can't ask for more than that."

Junior Hannah Cope was the runner-up in the 60-meter hurdles as she bested her career-best time of 8.94 from the semi-finals on Saturday. Cope, who's finishing time of 8.84 stands as the third best in Penn history, was second only to Harvard senior Dara Wilson's finish of 8.79.

"Hannah's race was unbelievable," Harris said. "She got out to a great start and put herself in a position to win. It was awesome. I was really impressed."

Penn racked up points in the triple jump behind senior Camille Richard, junior Kathryn Gevitz and freshman Catherine Okoukoni. The trio finished back-to-back-to-back in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively, with all three measuring career bests and entering Penn's all-time top 10 list.

Richard became just the sixth woman in Penn history to surpass 12 meters in the event. In the final jump of her Indoor Heptagonal Championships career, Richard landed at 12.01 meters (39 feet, 5 inches), ranking her fourth all-time in the Penn record books. Gevitz's best jump came at the very beginning of the event. Her first leap of 11.93 meters (39-01 3/4 ft.) was the best of her three-year collegiate career and stuck as her best throughout the day. The mark is seventh all-time at Penn, while Okoukoni's mark of 11.85 meters (38-10 1/2 ft.) is eighth all-time. Okoukoni reached that point in the sand on her third and final jump in the qualifying round. It placed her third heading into the finals.

"I knew they could do this (in the triple jump)," added Harris. "Most people get caught up in the Heps, but they were relaxed and prepared. All of them jumped really well and Cath (Okoukoni) was just another of our freshman who did really well."

Freshman Leah Brown capped an impressive weekend in the 60 meters with a fourth-place finish in the finals. A day after posting the second-best time in Penn history in the event (7.65), the Virginia Beach, Va., native nearly matched that effort, finishing at 7.68.

Freshman Kristen Judge was fourth in the high jump. She passed 1.67 meters (5-05 3/4 ft.) on her second attempt. It was her top height of the season as she just missed on her three attempts to reach the ECAC height of 1.70 meters.

Sophomore Kali Strother added two points for the Quakers in the 200 meters. She placed fifth with a time of 25.16, which was just off the ECAC time of 25.12.

The relay teams combined for two successful efforts. The two-mile relay finished just outside of the scoring in seventh-place, but qualified for the ECAC Championships at 9:07.91. The mile relay added another point for the Quakers with a sixth-place finish, coming in at 3:56.77.

On day one of the championships, Gevitz, senior Whitney Tagliavini and senior Leah Brogan all scored for the Quakers. Gevitz and Tagliavini finished third and fourth in the long jump, respectively, and Brogan was third in the 5,000 meters.

Cornell won the team title for the seventh time in the last eight years with 117.5 points. The Big Red beat out Princeton's 99 points.

Next up for the Quakers are the ECAC Championships March 7-8 in Boston, Mass. The Red and Blue have posted ECAC qualifying times in 14 different events.

Final Standings

1. Cornell, 117.5

2. Princeton, 99

3. Harvard, 79.5

4. Brown, 65

5. Penn, 54

6. Dartmouth, 41

6. Columbia, 41

8. Yale, 29