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The Independent Florida Alligator During last year's running, roughly 96,000 fans crammed in to watch this national track meet. "The Penn Relays is a bragging rights meet," Florida men's coach Doug Brown said. "It's a mini-nationals. If you do well, it can give you a boost. If you don't do well, it can get you working harder for SECs and Nationals." This national meet is just as big for the Gators women's team as it is for the men's team. "For some of these kids going to Penn is as important as going to nationals," Florida women's coach Tom Jones said. The women's 4x800 meter relay team will enter the Penn Relays looking to defend last year's Penn Relays title. The 4x800m relay team set a new world record by running a time of eight minutes, 24.65 seconds. Running this year's 4x800 relay are sophomores Nona Allen, Erin Merten, Melissa DeLeon and senior Tamieka Grizzle. The men are coming off a ninth-place finish at the USTCA National Team Championships held last weekend in Austin, Texas. During the 14-team meet, junior Aaron Armstrong pulled up with a hamstring injury, forcing the 4x100 meter relay team out of contention. Stepping in for the injured Armstrong will be junior Stephen Jones. Jones, who usually runs the 110 meter high hurdles, is making his first appearance on the 4x100 relay team. "Aaron Armstrong's shoes are big shoes to fill, but they needed somebody to step in or else they wouldn't be able to run," Jones said. "I just want to come in and help get us to nationals. I'm supposed to be running anchor leg. The main goal is to stick around and try to run a fast time." The men's and women's teams are implementing a different strategy this weekend -- divide and conquer. Each team is sending the bulk of its field event athletes to the Knoxville Invitational, while deploying the runners to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays. "We're just going to take the field events people to Knoxville because Penn is not too good for field events like the pole vault," Jones said. Junior Emily Carlsten and senior David Furman will be two field event athletes venturing further north to compete at the Penn Relays. Furman will compete onlyat Franklin Fiel for the Relays.

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