Men’s and women’s track and field teams excel at Penn Relays

| 4/28/15 7:00pm

Members of the men’s and women’s track and field teams took part in the University of Pennsylvania’s 121st Penn Relays this past weekend at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. The contest — among the oldest and most decorated events in competitive track — brings together some of the country’s best athletes, including professional, collegiate and high school competitors.

“To be in the atmosphere of the Penn Relays is unreal,” women’s head coach Sandy Ford-Centonze said. “It’s sometimes tough as a coach since you might not even get into the stadium to watch the athletes compete, but to be a part of it is amazing.”

The Big Green received strong performances from both the men’s and women’s teams. On Friday, the women’s 4x1,500-meter relay team placed fourth in the Championship of America division against some of the best women’s distance programs in the country. The team of Elizabeth Markowitz ’16, Helen Schlachtenhaufen ’17, Reid Watson ’16 and Dana Giordano ’16 finished in 18:00.22.

“Penn Relays is the only meet with the women’s [4x1,500-meter relay] and the men’s [4xmile relay], so this is the meet they had to run it at,” men’s head coach Barry Harwick said.

The action, however, began on Thursday. In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Sarah DeLozier ’15 ran a 10:32.93 to place fourth, while Sarah Bennett ’16 placed 16th. In the heptagonal section of the women’s 4x400-meter relay, which is limited to the Ivy League, the Big Green took third in the pool of five, finishing after Cornell and Princeton Universities.

In the 400-meter hurdles, Erica Hendershot ’15 claimed 17th in 1:02.14, while Katy Sprout ’17 finished tenths of a second later to take 25th overall in a field of nearly 60 runners. Alison Lanois ’15 finished the first day of the contest for the women by placing 18th in the 5,000-meter with a time of 17:09.19.

On the first day of competition for the men, captain Anthony Anzivino ’16 finished ninth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:22.17. Dylan O’Sullivan ’15 ran a 30:37.28 in the 10,000-meter under the lights to claim 18th in the final event of the day.

As the meet continued into the night, dropping temperatures may have affected athlete performance.

“The [10,000-meter] did not finish until midnight, and at that point it was 35 degrees,” Harwick said.

On Friday, the women’s team received strong performances from Kaitlin Whitehorn ’16, who placed sixth in the championship section of the high jump by clearing 5-8.5/1.74m, and Molly Shapiro ’16, who placed 33rd in the triple jump with a 37-10.75/11.55m.

Action for the men’s team started off early with the 400-meter hurdles in which Edward Wagner ’16 ran a 54.52, good for 20th in the field of 50 competitors.

The men’s team also received strong performances from relay teams in the distance medley relay and the heptagonal section of the 4x400-meter relay. The distance medley relay quartet of Pat Gregory ’18, Phil Gomez ’17, Will Callan ’15 and Julian Heninger ’17 ran a cumulative 10:24.01 to finish 24th.

In the Big Green’s second relay team of the day, Zachary Plante ’18, Amos Cariati ’18, Wagner and Gomez combined to run a 3:16.16 to take third in the heptagonal section of the 4x400-meter relay.

“We had a good performance against the Ivy League schools, and that gives us an extra incentive and confidence going into [Ivy League Heptagonal Championships] in two weeks,” Ford-Centonze said.

Wrapping up competition on Saturday, Bridget O’Neill ’18, Elizabeth Markowitz ’16, Bridget Flynn ’18 and Meghan Grela ’17 finished eighth in the Championship of America section of the women’s 4x800-meter relay.

On the men’s side, Corey Muggler ’17 placed seventh in the triple jump with a jump of 48-9.0/14.86m. Harwick noted that Muggler’s performance was a lifetime best, and as a native of Philadelphia, this was a special one for him given it was in front of his hometown crowd.

Connor Clark ’17, Silas Talbot ’15, Joe Chapin ’16 and Curtis King ’16 ran a 16:54.22 in the Championship of America Invitational section of the men’s 4xmile, good for 12th overall. Chapin was recovering from an injury that affected his performance, King said. The energy of 40,000 fans makes the Penn Relays an incredible experience for the athletes. The coaches, however, are often outside of the stadium because of the crowds, Harwick said.

“The atmosphere is pretty incredible,” King said. “But 40,000 people are yelling at you, and coaches aren’t allowed on the infield. So even if [the coaches] are yelling splits from the stands, we can’t really hear anything.”

The teams will return to Hanover to fine-tune for two weeks before the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships at Penn on May 9 and 10.