Senior Goodbye: Steve Childs | Relaying the beauty of track

· May 12, 2011, 9:37 pm   ·  Updated May 12, 2011, 12:00 am

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A senior column provides a tempting opportunity for a beat writer to fill his last few inches of print with platitudes about how much he has enjoyed his undergraduate years at Penn and will fondly recollect his time writing for the Daily Pennsylvanian. I did enjoy myself – as a student and as a writer for the DP.

But as the track and field beat writer, I prefer to encourage Penn students to appreciate the sport and its connection with Penn.

Just over a week ago, our University hosted what is perhaps the most storied track meet in the world ­— the Penn Relays. This year, we missed the fanfare that attended last year’s arrival of Usain Bolt. But even without a world-record attempt, there was plenty to see and appreciate.

On Thursday’s Distance Night, senior Luke Grau set a personal record in the 5k. His 14:12 averages to just over 4:30 per mile. Nine seconds behind him, freshman Conner Paez cruised to his personal best of 14:21. Few may realize it, but attendance on Thursday night is free. Next year, I encourage you to watch your fellow students accomplish some extraordinary feats.

Penn athletes, however, are only a fraction of the draw.

Throughout the Relays’ three days, elite athletes at the high school, collegiate and professional level flock from around the world to run just a few blocks from where we all live. (The post-Relays party bears testament to this as sub-4 minute milers were ubiquitous and the cacophony of Irish, Australian and New Zealand accents added a exotic quality to the festivities.)

No other university can make this claim on such a grand scale. And Penn accomplishes this feat annually. Again, this is a Penn tradition to embrace while you study here.

Finally, although I chided the platitude-mongers above, I beg your pardon as I join their ranks in conclusion.

Next year, I will be attending the School of Journalism at Columbia for my master’s. My time as a writer for the DP has, in large part, steered me in this direction, and for my editors and the track team, which provide me with so many story ideas, I am very grateful.

STEVE CHILDS is a 2011 College graduate from Garden City, N.Y. He can be reached at childss@sas.upenn.edu. Next year he will be pursuing a masters degree at the Columbia School of Journalism.

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