It’s finally here.
After months of waiting, high school, collegiate and international athletes from around the world have converged on Penn’s campus for the Penn Relays — one of the nation’s most prestigious annual track and field competitions.
And at the center of attention is Franklin Field, a hallowed ground for Penn athletics.
On Thursday morning, the Relays’ track events got off to a proper start with women’s high school and college competition, and there couldn’t have been a nicer day for the proceedings.
Sunlight poured into Franklin Field throughout the day, but it just as easily could have been pouring out, as the sun illuminated its surroundings like a halo around a holy athletic ground.
At a comfortable 60 degrees, one could sense the excitement surrounding the event by simply walking around campus.
It was equally exciting inside Franklin Field, which was filled with spectators. One can expect attendance to increase as the Relays go on, as it very well may be filled to the brim as the Relays’ marquee track events are run on Friday and Saturday.
The event couldn’t have started any better for its host, either.
The Quakers started off proceedings with an early victory, as their freshman sensation — multi-athlete Noel Jancewicz — won the women’s heptathlon over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday.
In only her first year of collegiate competition, Jancewicz posted the third-highest score — 5,035 points in Penn history — and became the school’s third champion in the event.
The Red and Blue also started strong on the men’s side, as sophomore Thomas Pitt led the men’s decathlon through the first day of competition. He was unable to finish the competition, though, pulling out of the 1500 meters on Wednesday.
Thursday morning started off at 10 a.m. with the collegiate women’s 400m hurdles championships, but transitioned immediately into high school girls’ sprints and middle-distance events.
These events were completely dominated by Edwin Allen, a high school out of Jamaica which registered the top heat times in the 4x100m, 4x400m, and 4x800m relays.
Following this astounding display of athletic dominance were the initial heats of the college women’s 4x100m relays.
The Red and Blue finished just outside of the top thirty with a mildly disappointing time of 46.88 seconds, failing to qualify for any of Friday’s heats.
Then came the high school 4x400m relays. And they went on.
And on and on and on ... for literally hours as a mind-numbing number of teams competed in the middle-distance relays. Further college competition would need to wait for later in the night and over the weekend.
So with one day of the Relays in the books, one thing remains clear: The meet started as well as anyone could have hoped, but there is plenty left to look forward to.