Women's Track and Field Off to Running Start at Penn Relays

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PHILADELPHIA- Against the backdrop of a double rainbow at historic Franklin Field on Thursday,the Universty of Pennsylvania women's outdoor track and field teamhad an impressive start to day one in front of 24,132 fans at the 116th running of the Penn Relays.

Both of Penn's relay teams qualified for the ECAC Championship races and broke into the top-five all-time in the record books. Sophomore Paige Madison had a career-best effort and was less than a second from breaking a school record in the 400-meter hurdles. Freshman Leslie Kovach had the fastest time in the 3,000 meters for a Quaker since 2004.

The 4x100 relay reached the ECAC championship race with a time of 46.43 - thesecond-fastest time in school history. The team of Renee McDougall, Kali Strother, Madison and Leah Brown had already posted thesecond-fastest time in Penn history earlier this year and were just 13 tenths of a second from breakingthe 2005 school record. They fnished 29th and were easily the top Ivy League team in the event. The foursome will competeFriday in the ECAC final.

The 4x400 relay team was third in the heptagonal race, also reached the school recordbooksand also reached the ECAC final. Just two seconds behind the winning Cornell relay,Madison, McDougall, Strother and senior Victoria Strickland finished in 3:43.51. It ranks as the fifth-best 4x400 relayall-time at Penn. They will compete on Saturday in the ECAC final.

In one of the first events of the day, Madison got Penn off to a great start. She was27th ina field of 53 with thebest time of her career and the second-fastest 400-meter hurdles in the history of the school. Madion held the school's second spot already, but improved upon her personal-best mark with her time of1:01.19.

Under the lights of Franklin Field, Kovach had a career effort in the 3,000 meters. Her time of 9:42.27 placed her third among the 27 competitors. It also placed her fourth all-timeat Penn.

Senior Kathryn Gevitz finished in the top 10 in the long jump. She fouled on her first jump, but surpassed 19 feet on her second attempt. Her leap measured 5.82 meters (19 feet, 1 1/4 inches) and placed her ninth among the field of 28. The jump ensured her spot in the ECAC Championships in May.

The double rainbow that draped over the oldest collegiate football stadim in the country came afterbrief lightning storm that caused a 30-minute delay around 6:30 p.m. The day's events should conclude after midnight.The 24,132 in attendance ranks sixth all-time for the first day of the Relays.

The Quakers will be busy tomorrow as well. The sprint medley, 4x200 and 4x1500 relay teamsare all in action. The 4x1500 relay and the sprint medley relay are in theprestigious Championship of America races and the 4x100 will partake in its ECAC Championship race.