NEW YORK, N.Y. - With some near school-record performances, the University of Pennsylvania women's indoor track and field team finished third at the Great Dance Classic hosted by the University of Albany Friday at the historic Armory Track and Field Center in New York City.
There were 26 teams that scored at the meet as 45 of Penn's 68.83 points came from underclassmen. Seton Hall won the meet with 98 points. Penn freshman Leslie Kovach was named the Athlete of the Meet after breaking the meet record in the 5,000 meters.
Considered the most competitive collegiate meet of the weekend, the Quakers made a good first impression. In the first event, Kovach won the 5,000 meters, finishing with the sixth-best time in school history and qualifying for the ECAC's. That wasn't all for the Quakers. Freshman Margaret Diacont finished fourth and moments later sophomore Erin Baird came across the line in sixth-place. With all three of Penn's runners finishing in the top six, the Quakers came away with 18 team points in the event. Kovach blew away the field with her finish of 17:08.46 - the runner-up finished 24 seconds later, while Diacont came in at 17:45.76 and Baird stopped at 17:53.05.
Not long after that performance, Leah Brown nearly broke a 24-year-old school record in the preliminaries of the 55-meter dash. The sophomore raced to a finish of 7.23, the fastest time for a Quaker since Izu Emeagwali tied the record of 7.21 in 2005.
Penn continued to roll with eight points from a second-place finish in the distance medley relay. The Quakers, consisting of three underclassmen and senior Halloran Cope, finished in 12:19.71.
Then, in the 500 meters, senior Jamie Massarelli ran the second-fastest time in Pennl history. Her time of 1:13.75 was just two seconds behind Jesse Carlin's record time of 1:11.77 in 2005. The effort qualified Massarelli for the ECAC Championships and placed her fourth in the event. Seton Hall's Jernail Hayes won at 1:13.06.
In the 200 meters, junior Kali Strother matched her effort of 24.84 from a week ago when she had the second-fastest time in school history. This week, that time placed her third.
Freshman Kim Condino scored in the 800 meters with her time of 2:18.47, while senior Kellee Hand did so in the 3,000 meters with a finish of 10:12.81 - both placed fifth.
Two Quakers finished among the top eight in the pole vault. Freshman Davielle Brown cleared each of the first four heights she attempted without a single miss and finished at 3.45 meters (11 feet, 3.75 inches), placing fifth. Senior Yelizaveta Lozovatskaya was stopped at 3.30 meters (10-10 ft.), good enough for an eighth-place showing.
Two more Quakers then scored in the long jump. Sophomore Catherine Okoukoni leaped 5.63 meters (18-05.75 ft.) on her first attempt and it stuck as her best. Meanwhile, senior Kathryn Gevitz saved her best effort for last, jumping 5.57 meters (18-03.25 ft.). Okoukoni was third and Gevitz finished sixth. Gevitz also placed in the triple jump, finishing eighth at 11.45 meters (37-06.75 ft.).
Sophomore Kristen Judge was fourth in the high jump, clearing 1.65 meters (5-05 ft.).
In the final event, the Quakers were fourth in the 4x400 relay. The team's time of 3:51.65 was an ECAC qualifying mark.
Next week, the Quakers head back to State College for the Penn State National meet at Ashenfelter Indoor Track. Penn was at the Nittany Lions' home facility on Jan. 9 for the PSU Northeast Challenge.