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2002 Penn Relays franklin field Credit: trevor grandle , trevor grandle

Franklin Field may have met its match.

“We sort of pride ourselves with Franklin Field for having one of the premiere facilities on the East Coast,” coach Steve Dolan said. “I think the Armory has become that for indoor tracks.”

This weekend, Penn track and field will travel to compete in the New York Armory Invitational at the historic Armory against the toughest competition they have seen thus far this winter.

Of course, making a claim to any Philadelphia track enthusiast that any venue on the East Coast comes close to rivaling Franklin Field borders on sacrilege, so what exactly does the Armory offer?

Here is how the tale of the tape breaks down.

Franklin Field certainly has its advantages, having opened in 1895, more than 15 years before its counterpart. It is also the home of the Penn Relays — the oldest, largest and possibly most famous annual track meet in the United States.

The Armory certainly holds its own in the matchup, though. Established in the early 1900s, the Washington Heights, Manhattan-based venue is the home of both the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the prestigious Millrose Games track meet held annually.

Regardless of personal biases toward their home track, the Red and Blue are nonetheless excited to compete at the Armory.

“It’s gonna be an electric atmosphere,” Dolan said. “They’ll get that extra shot of adrenaline from competing [there].”

Beyond the hype surrounding where the meet will be held, the Armory Invitational is also quite possibly the most important meet in which the Quakers will participate before indoor Heptagonals.

Several weeks ago, Dolan noted that his athletes would start to approach top competitive shape around the end of the month. And now that January is coming to an end, it is time to evaluate the condition of the Penn runners, throwers and jumpers.

With such a significant meet, it is definitely tempting to view it as a measuring stick for the two teams in their entirety. But to hear it from the coach himself, the invitational will be all about the individuals.

“What I’m expecting are seasonal bests, and hopefully some personal bests to go along with it,” Dolan said.

Several Penn athletes have stood out in the early goings of the indoor season.

On the track, freshmen Candace Taylor and Jeff Wiseman have had several outstanding performances in sprint and middle-distance running events, respectively. Meanwhile, on the field, junior thrower Sam Mattis has continued his outstanding run from last year.

Conspicuously absent from this group of standout performers is star junior runner Thomas Awad, fresh off of recognition from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. The majority of distance runners, who have been off from competition, will also take the track at the Armory.

It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from the Quakers this early in the season, but one thing is certain: If they come close to matching the hype that comes along with running at the Armory, it should be a fun meet for them.

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