Penn's Thomas Pitt wasn't sure what to expect in his first decathlon competition and got off to a bit of a rocky start in his first two events Tuesday at the Penn Relays.
But Pitt, a sophomore from Malvern Prep, shook off soreness in his right heel and recovered to hold a 53-point lead at the halfway point of the competition at Franklin Field.
Pitt, who entered Penn as a high jumper but switched to the decathlon during the offseason, stood at 3,859 points after the first five events. Nick Lebron of Southern Connecticut State held second at 3,806, and Mike Rabbitt of Cornell was third with 3,596.
Another member of the Quakers, freshman Noel Jancewicz, making her collegiate debut in the heptathlon, topped the 800-point mark in three of her four events and scored 3,090 points, good for a 14-point advantage over Northern Illinois' Claudette Day heading into Wednesday.
Pitt started out with an 11.41-second clocking in the 100 meters, below his personal goal. He injured his right heel on his first - and only - attempt in the long jump but still managed a leap of 22 feet, 31/2 inches, then used the break between events to ice the injury.
Pitt had the best mark in the high jump, 6-103/4, for 896 points, and also was tops in the shot put at 42-111/2.
"I really wanted to try some new things," Pitt said of his move to the decathlon. "I long-jumped in high school, and [coaches] saw I had some speed, so they said, 'Why not try it?' I feel I'm able to pick up other things."
Looking ahead to Wednesday, he never has run a 110-meter hurdles or a 1,500 race, the grueling final event.
"That's the one I'm looking forward to the least," he said.
On the women's side, Jancewicz, who said her only other heptathlon competition came when she was a junior at Robbinsville (N.J.) High School, didn't care much for her opening event, the 100-meter hurdles (15.30 seconds). She said she "got angry for five minutes before I realized I'd better get ready for the next event."
That was the high jump, in which she leaped 5-7 for 855 points, tying the best mark in the field. She surprised herself in the 200 meters, the day's last event, with a time of 25.47 seconds for 844 points.
"I thought everything went pretty well," she said. "I did a [personal best] in the 200 by a decent amount. I feel pretty good going into tomorrow."