The local dominance of the men’s and women’s track and field teams has become almost routine by now, as both squads captured the 2006 outdoor Heps championships.
En route to its fifth consecutive outdoor Heps title, the women’s side racked up 18 NCAA Regional qualifying performances, four school records and three freshmen records.
Winning its fourth straight Heps crown, the men’s team used 31 IC4A-qualiyfing efforts and 11 NCAA Regional qualifying performances to come from behind to defeat Princeton on the final day of competition.
However, the Red didn’t settle for league championships this spring — six athletes advanced to the NCAA championships held in Sacramento, Calif., from June 7-10.
After strong regional performances, Emily McCabe ’06 and Jaime Greubel ’06, seniors Sarah Wilfred, Morgan Uceny, and David Pell, and junior Rayon Taylor traveled west in pursuit of national titles and All-America honors.
“I was very happy we were able to send so many athletes to nationals,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing. “It really speaks to the quality of the competitors and how hard they work.”
Wilfred led the way for the Red, leaping her way to a fifth place finish in the high jump and earning All-America status. Confident and poised, Wilfred cleared 6-0 and demonstrated her ability to compete with the best jumpers in the country.
“Sarah has become a student of the event,” Duesing said. “She performed incredibly well.”
In the 800 meters, Uceny looked to add more accolades to an already crowded resumé — in addition to various meets and team records, she was an All-American and ECAC athlete of the meet during the indoor season. However, with a time of 2:06.68 in the preliminaries, Uceny was unable to reach the finals.
“I didn’t run as well as I had in previous weeks,” Uceny said. “I can’t be disappointed, though. I know what I need to do to improve and [next year] I will have a lot more confidence.”
Seeded 21st heading into the meet, McCabe ran one of the best races of her career in the 5,000 meters, skyrocketing to 12th-place only to barely miss a chance at All-America honors. In the preliminaries, McCabe set a personal record with a speedy time of 16:13.30.
Displaying her wide range of athletic ability, Greubel competed in the heptathlon. Amassing over 5,000 points was good enough to earn Greubel a 13th place finish in one of the most challenging and complete events in all of track and field.
“Jamie’s willingness to work multi-events ... resulted in her success,” Duesing said. “She competed very, very well.”
On the men’s side, Cornell record holder Taylor climbed as high as fourth heading into the finals of the triple jump before finishing ninth with a jump of over 51 feet.
“[Qualifying for nationals] was one of the biggest goals I had set for myself,” Taylor said. “When I got there most the pressure was off and I just had to take things one step at a time.”
Additionally, Pell participated in the high jump and finished 25th with a jump of 6-10 3/4.
In such a significant event, the team atmosphere that comes with having so many members qualify helped to propel the Red participants to their strong finishes.
“It was fantastic to have people to travel and practice with,” Uceny said. “It really takes your mind off the meet.”
The Red’s season did not end in Sacramento however, as much of the team joined the members that had participated in nationals for a trip to the United Kingdom to compete against some of the best athletes from across the pond.
It was a trip in which the Red, combined with many athletes from Penn, was able to compete and also enjoy some time away from the States.
“Not only did we have a lot of fun,” Duesing said. “But we had success in Europe. It was a great way to end a very long year with a great group of people.”
The track team will have new faces and likely new dynamics for the upcoming season, but the bar set by this year’s team, will remain at a height even higher than Pell or Wilfed can jump.
“There is more left in the tank,” Taylor said.