Like any aging lady, Franklin Field got a facelift this year — and it is a big one.
The new surface of Penn’s track is immaculate — the colors pop out enough to make any graphic designer jump with joy. But the high-tech surface isn’t just about looks.
“Having a brand new surface has been amazing,” Penn director of track and field Steve Dolan said. “I think we’ve got the perfect combination of a fast surface that we can run really good times on and really have high performance. It’s also something we can train on regularly. It feels good. It’s also nice just to train on something so aesthetically pleasing, with the red track and the blue around it.”
A couple of technical — but extremely important — additions to the new surface are the creation of a ninth lane and the lengthening of the back straightaway to allow full-length hurdle and sprint events. The new nine-lane track has the capacity to hold more events in less time, but also a higher level of competition. According to Dolan, that was one of the primary goals of the renovations.
“We would like to hold additional things at Franklin Field on all levels," he said. "We added another collegiate meet this year. We’re going to be the host site for U.S. Club Nationals this summer. We’re also working on hosting an Olympic Trials qualifying distance night in the summertime for those trying to get those Olympic qualifying times. We’d like to keep expanding in the years to come, whether it’s high school meets or world-class competition.”
The new track itself is not the only change within the stadium. Alterations have also been applied to the high jump and triple jump pits, and the renovations have even been so specific as to reposition the pole vault area to work better with the wind.
“It’s a great collaboration between Penn Facilities, the Penn Relays and Penn track,” Dolan said. “Now we can have something that we’re really proud of.”
Proud indeed — the Quakers can be proud of many things regarding Franklin Field. And according to Dolan, the renovations could also help in attracting some new Baby Quakers as well.
“I think it will attract new students to Penn — everyone wants to train at a world-class facility, and we have one. From both a training and a recruiting standpoint, having Franklin Field at tip-top shape like it is is definitely an advantage for us.”
So with a new track, new mega-events, and new recruits, it looks like the aging relic of Philly may have just become the new cougar on the block. Look out, young‘uns.
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