With only one month remaining until Penn Relays, the nation’s biggest track meet, the men’s track and field team will head south to Austin, Texas to participate in the Lone Star State’s version, the Texas Relays.
“I’m excited to compete against the best athletes in the country,” coach Robin Martin said. “This group of guys has always risen to the occasion. I’m excited to see what they can do.”
The group consists of 14 Quakers who will compete in the 85th Annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, the second largest track and field competition in the country.
The Quakers will be tested against runners from 200 collegiate teams. There will also be 631 high school teams participating and a projected 6,391 athletes in total — over 1,000 more than there were in at last year’s event.
With so many competitors, the coaching staff was forced to decide which athletes would go using an evaluation.
“[The method] was a combination of two things,” Martin explained. “One, the coaching staff sat down and put together some numbers that we thought were fair parameters to make the meet. If they hit these numbers or scored in an individual event in the Ivy League Championship, we would enter them into the Texas Relays. From there, they actually had to accomplish the goal to get into the Relays, and from that, we ended up with this 14.”
Out of the 14, an obvious selection was sophomore high jumper Maalik Reynolds. A two-time All-American, Reynolds has been on a tear this season, which earned him a first-team All-Ivy selection for the indoor season. This weekend, he will be tested against some of the best high jumpers in the nation.
“Maalik Reynolds, our superstar high jumper, he’s competing against five of the top 10 collegiate [jumpers] from the country and a few pros in addition to that,” Martin said. “So, it’ll be a stacked competition for Maalik.”
However, Martin remains confident that his team will exceed expectations. A former Penn runner himself, Martin will draw on his own experiences to motivate his team.
“When I was a junior here at Penn, we went to the Texas Relays and we were second to a very good team,” Martin recalled. “And that stuck with me, because we compete against the best every year at the Penn Relays. It gives me confidence going down there.”
Penn has three other athletes seeded in the top 10 of their respective events: Tim Carey (400-meter intermediate hurdles), Michael Kiley (3000-meter steeplechase) and Karl Ingram (javelin).
The Quakers will need the perfect combination of confidence, ability and a healthy dose of luck to pull out a top finish at the meet. The meet runs Wednesday through Saturday.
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