Penn Relays | Carnival to feature new discus and hammer facility
State-of-the-art field area near Meiklejohn rivals facilities used in the Olympics
April 25, 2012, 3:29 am·
Andrew Dierkes | DP
For 118 years, Franklin Field has been the historic destination for distance runners, sprinters and jumpers from around the world. Now, it hopes to be the same for throwers.
This weekend, Penn will feature a brand-new discus and hammer throwing area that rivals Olympic facilities and hopes to attract talent from across the world.
“Finally we have a destination for throwers, and all along what I wanted for the throwing fields is an environment that respects the throwers,” said Tony Tenisci, coordinator of throws at the Penn Relays and a 26-year coach at Penn.
“You walk into Franklin Field, you want to go fast,” he added. “So when you go down to the throwing field at Penn, and you look at the new facilities we’ve built, all you want to do is throw far because it’s dedicated to throwers.”
The ground is nestled between Meiklejohn Stadium and Rhodes Field by the eastern edge of campus and built with a backdrop of the Philadelphia skyline. Constructed on top of Warren Field, the area was home to the penn softball team until it moved to Penn Park.
“This actually started before Penn Park plans,” Dave Johnson, Director of the Relays, said. “It started with the reconstruction on South Street Bridge because they needed our old throwing fields for laydown areas.”
The ground is unique in that it uses the softball field as a framework for throwing area. Much of the original field remains unchanged, including the grandstands that look onto the throwing circles from above.
“Last year, it lacked a collective effervescence. There was no spectator-athlete relationship … Now that we have this facility, it’s entirely different,” junior thrower Charlotte Pope said. “I’ve never been in a facility where the spectators are looking down at the athlete and that takes it to another level, it’s more of a performance.”
Additionally, the two dugouts remain intact and will allow competitors to store their equipment and gear under cover during inclement weather. It will also provide a place for them to relax.
The cage measures more than 10 meters high, a standard used in all international competitions including the Olympics. Within the cage are two throwing circles and a cutout out of the liberty bell constructed from all-weather track.
The best part: the center of the hammer circle is located right on top of home plate.
“It kind of makes you feel like you’re out of the city,” said sophomore Jacob Brenza, who had a career-best throw in the hammer at this facility during the Penn Invite on April 7. “Here, we are in our throwing area and we leave everything else behind.”
Surrounding the field is SprinTurf synthetic grass that will allow the competitors to keep their shoes dry. The fence from the softball field has been removed to have the field open into a broad expanse.
“It gives you the impression that there’s no limit,” Pope said.