Women's Track and Field Looks to Challenge the Ivy League

The 2004-05 season saw the true beginning of Penn's resurgence into one of the top teams in the Ivy League. Under the direction of Head Coach Gwen Harris, the Penn women's track and field team has been on the rise. No other team in the Ivy League showed itself more confidently than Penn, especially throughout the outdoor season.

Both seasons had some outstanding performances and record breaking moments. The indoor season saw five new school records set, plus an ECAC 500m Champion in standout freshman Jesse Carlin. Penn was able to qualify 16 women athletes to the indoor Eastern Championship – a record number in Penn's history.

The success of the indoor season spread quickly into the outdoor campaign. Many wonderful and rewarding things happened to this young team, but especially exciting was winning the 4x400m Heptagonal Relay at the Penn Relays. Prior to the Relays, the 4x400m relay had run one of the fastest times in the nation with a new school record of 3:39.82. At the end of the outdoor season Penn had achieved seven new school records, a fifth-place at the Heptagonal Championships, an outstanding fifth-place showing at ECAC Championships and had five student-athletes qualify for the NCAA Regional Championships.

“TEAM” was the motto of this young group throughout the season and will continue to be the driving force for the 2005-06 campaign. With a small group of seniors, an abundant junior class and sophomore talent, this team is on the road to unlimited success. With the addition of another outstanding freshman class, the Red and Blue will be a force to reckon with in 2005-06.

Cross Country/Distance
The cross country team was led by two outstanding sophomores, one senior and a handful of freshmen last season. This youthful group now has one year of experience under their belts, a desire for success and the ability to bring the Quakers to new levels of success. Penn will look to improve upon last season’s disappointing eighth-place finish at conference championships. Sophomores Claire and Stacy Kim made an immediate impact on the team last season and should push the Red and Blue to achieve more in 2005. The veteran juniors led by Jen Blank and Jackie Dunn will again serve as mentors for this very young team and help guide Penn to the top of the Ivy League standings. The Red and Blue improved with every meet last season and all top-five scorers ran under 19 minutes at the League Championships, which is something no other team at Penn has accomplished. This achievement is just one of the many signs for a very bright and exciting cross country season for fall 2005. Added to this group will be six outstanding freshmen who will bring more depth and strength to this promising team.

Middle Distance
The middle distance group is small, but very talented. Many outstanding performances came from this group in 2005 and in doing so, threatened many of the Penn school records, which have stood for many years. Leading off this group is junior Tina Morrison who ran her indoor 800m in 2:08.73 (second all-time for Penn) and 2:08.52 outdoors (second all-time). Her outdoor time qualified her for the NCAA Regionals and along the way, she placed fifth at the League championships in 2:10.37, ran 2:55.71 for 1,000m, and 4:35.88 for 1,500m. In her first two seasons she has continued to run faster and smarter and is a real threat in the middle distance events and as part of the relays.
The Kim twins burst onto the middle distance scene during the indoor season – a season they had never competed in before and made their presence known in the Ivy League and on the East coast. Both had outstanding seasons with Claire running the indoor mile in 4:55.77, the 1,500m in 4:29.87, the 3,000m in 9:47.63 and the 5,000m in 17:06.37. Stacy was not far behind, running the indoor mile in 5:06.55, 1,500m in 4:27.12, (which earned her a NCAA Regional berth) and a 3,000m in 9:57.18. The twins went on to run second at the indoor ECACs in the DMR with help from Morrison and rookie Shaunee Morgan. At the outdoor ECACs the 4x800m relay team placed second with an outstanding 8:57.39. Claire Kim, Morrison, Stacy Kim and Rachel Dailey each earned All-East honors for their performances.

With another year of maturity, the middle distance group will be one of the finest in the East and those long-standing records just might be history.

Throws
The Penn throwing team has always had outstanding talent and 2005-06 will be no different. Senior captain Charity Payne is a scoring threat in the shot, javelin and discus. She is a two-time Heptagonal Champion in the shot and placed in the shot, javelin and discus at the 2005 Outdoor Heps.

Payne had a banner year in her specialty, the shot put. She won the indoor Ivy League conference with a personal best of 45-7.75. At ECAC Championships, she threw a personal best in discus with a 140-2 throw.

Adding more depth to the throwers is junior Catrina Chisholm in the hammer. She placed fourth at Conference and later went on to become All-East by placing eighth with a seasons best of 173-1. Sophomore shot putter Stephanie Guy and junior 20 lb. weight thrower Charli Tabler both placed eighth in their events at conference championships, throwing 41-10.5 and 48-7.5 respectively. The freshman class will add three outstanding javelin throwers to complete this versatile and talented group of throwers.


Jumps

The jumps will again be handled by three very talented student-athletes in juniors Shani Boston and Jerrie Kumalah and sophomore Brittany Middlebrooks. Boston finished fourth at indoor Heps with a leap of 17-6.25 in the long jump and placed fifth in the same event at the outdoor Heps with a jump of 18-0.5. Kumalah was a consistent 17-5 long jumper and was a finalist at conference, in her specialty the triple jump, where she leapt 37-3. Middlebrooks emerged in the long jump with a personal best of 18-8 in the event to take third at the outdoor Heptagonal Championships.

The 2005-06 freshman class will add tremendous depth in the jumps. It boasts several talented jumpers who will be able to contribute immediately and will help make this area a key to Penn's success in 2005-06.


Hurdles and Sprints

The sprinters and hurdlers showed the most development and improvement last season. With the addition of two top-caliber freshman sprinters in Jesse Carlin and Shaunee Morgan, the whole sprint team cruised through the indoor and outdoor seasons, knocking down records and making their presence known to not only the Ivy League but to the ECAC and East Regional. School records were broken in the 200m, 400m (indoor and outdoors) plus both 4x100m and 4x400m relays (indoors and outdoors). The 4x100m relay set an all time Ivy League record with a 46.33 and the 4x400m relay was ranked in the top-25 in the country with a 3:39.09 performance. Only one sprinter in this group graduated, so the team is still at full strength for upcoming year. The bulk of the incoming freshmen class will be sprinters, so this squad should continue to make some very dramatic performances in this season.


Pentathlon/Heptathlon

The future of the multi-events lies in the hands of 2004 Penn Relays champion Boston. She is one of the finest multi-talents to come to Penn in many years and her collective and individual talents are formidable. At the indoor Heptagonals Championships, Boston scored second in the pentathlon with 3,539 points. Deciding not to focus on the outdoor heptathlon in 2005, she worked on individual events. This season she will return to her multi-events and challenge for the Heptagonal title both indoors and outdoors. There will be two new additions to the multi-events team, and these two newcomers will be vital in the contribution that the multi's will bring to the teams overall performance.

Looking Towards the Future

The Quakers return 38 upperclassmen and welcome 24 freshmen in 2005-06, the Penn team will be very exciting to watch. Youth, talent, determination and team spirit will be apart of the Red and Blue standard for years to come.

-Written by Heather Palmer, associate director of athletic communications.