The men’s and women’s track teams are used to seeing Penn. Just not used to sharing the same uniform.
This past summer, the Red joined the Quakers for a tour of the United Kingdom. During their stay, the teams visited numerous tourist attractions in addition to competing against Oxford and Cambridge University. Among some of the places visited were Cadbury World, downtown Birmingham, Conwy, Caenarfon and Warwick Castle. Both athletes and coaches valued the experience.
“Everybody says it’s great…when it was over I realized how good it was,” said senior Sarah Wilfred, “It is one of my greatest college experiences.”
“It’s fantastic,” said men’s head coach Nathan Taylor, “These kids get a chance to see things they have never seen before.”
Playing alongside Penn is another activity that the Red isn’t used to — but the adjustment wasn’t too hard. Both coaches of the men’s and women’s teams said the relationship between the two isn’t bad regardless of the fact that the two squads are regularly at squaring off against each other. In fact, two marriages have resulted between Cornell and Penn track members, initiated on the trip to the U.K. Taylor, who served as men’s head coach at Penn from 1988-99, has maintained connections with his old team.
“The relationship is pretty good,” Taylor said. “Some of their kids, we recruited as well, so we know them a little bit.”
Not only did the teams succeed in getting along with one another, but the combined squads dominated with their performances. The men won 13-of-19 events, while the women took 14-of-19 events. This was done, despite the competition coming at the end of a season that lasts seven months.
“What has allowed us to succeed is this attitude that we may not be more talented, but we will outwork you,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing.
After visiting tourist sites and cheering alongside soccer-crazy locals during the World Cup, many of the athletes and coaches admitted to fatigue during the tournament but didn’t let the fatigue slow them down — several runners even managed to earn personal best times. Wilfred broke the school record in the high jump five times, and Emily McCabe ’06 broke the 5,000 meters record by 34 seconds. Junior Rayon Taylor earned first place in the triple jump and javelin while sophomore Erik Roneker placed first in the shot put, the discus and the hammer.
“I told the girls, it is hard to run fast in a race that isn’t fast, but in good competition you are allowed to shine,” Duesing said.
Wilfred echoed Duesing’s sentiments.
“I am not going to lie, I was very tired…but no amount of fatigue can stop you once you are focused on a goal,” she said
The Red are expecting to go back to the U.K. in 2010, but with all the fun and success it had this past summer, it’s safe to say the team wants to go back sooner.