At the 122nd Penn Relays this weekend, Penn track and field felt right at home.Competing Thursday-Saturday as hosts of the largest annual track and field meet in the United States, the Quakers held their own against elite competition. But there was one relay that stood out from all the others.
In the men's 4xMile Championship of America, the Red and Blue squad featuring senior Keaton Naff, juniors Chris Hatler and Nick Tuck and anchored by senior Thomas Awad narrowly beat out Indiana and Georgetown to win the program's Championship of America since 1974. It marked the first time since 1950 the Quakers have won the 4xMile — and their time of 16:26.30 was a program record in a winning 4xMile.
"This was always the dream — to win the Wheel at a relay here," Awad said. "And to finally do it, it’s awesome. And Penn — I’m graduating this year — they’re going to be so good for years to come and we’ve really come a long way form the ’70s where we were at our peak."
Penn's performance in the 4xMile avenged a tough third-place finish in Friday's distance medley relay, finishing just behind Penn State and Georgetown with a time of 9:37.25. In the process, the Quakers set a new program record, breaking a mark set in 1972.
The individual distance events also treated the Red and Blue well. In the 3K steeplechase, senior Brendan Smith posted a time of 8:56.00, good for third place behind a pair of runners from Indiana. On the women's side of the event, senior Amy Darlington took fourth, finishing in 10:25.62.
In the women's 5K championship, the Quakers placed three runners in the top 10, headlined by sophomore Kylene Cochrane's fifth-place finish with a time of 16:33.00. Senior Elyssa Gensib and junior Clarissa Whiting followed close behind, finishing ninth and tenth, respectively.
Over in the field events, sophomore Mike Monroe took fourth in the high jump, clearing 2.12 meters.
On Saturday, attention turned to the throwing fields as discus thrower Sam Mattis — holder of the No. 1 throw in the world in 2016 — sought his first collegiate Penn Relays title. The senior's throw of 59.92m was good for third, however, as a pair of throwers from UWI-Mona eclipsed the reigning NCAA champion.
Senior Kelsey Hay took eighth in the javelin, recording a throw of 43.42m on Thursday.
As over 100,000 fans watched on throughout the course of three days, the Quakers had a chance to show off in front of an international crowd. Penn director of track and field Steve Dolan captured the feeling in the press conference following his team's 4xMile win.
:We’ve talked about it for years, but getting to be in a Penn uniform and to win on this stage in the Penn Relays is about as good as it gets. And it was a magic moment out there for all of us. I couldn’t be more excited about what they’ve done and how they competed today."
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