The Penn Relays are upon us. And while the oldest and largest track and field meet in the nation is a sight to see, it can be tough to catch every event over the three-day bonanza. With that in mind, here are five events you should put on your calendar to get the best, most efficient Relays experience.
1. Masters mixed 100m dash 80 and older [3:00 PM on Saturday]
The main knock on the 100 meter dash is that it’s over in a heartbeat. Blink and you’ll miss it. But that won’t be a problem in this event, which is open to both men and women ages 80 and up. Some of the most experienced athletes in the field will be running this event, and it should be an absolute thriller. Last year’s race saw a photo-finish, with 88 year-old Ed Cox edging out 80 year-old Donald Erickson by just fifteen-hundredths of a second with a winning time of 17.85. The next few runners crossed the line in quick succession, with 86 year-old Susan Wilson being the first woman to cross the line at 26.78. Champ Goldie finished a good amount shy of living up to a lofty first name as the 99 year-old crossed the line at 45.70. But the real sight to see was 100 year-old Ida Keeling, who set a new record for centenarians with a blazing time of 1:17.23. While most of the track & field world is dominated by young kids with their hippity-hop and their skateboards, this should be the most wholesome event of the meet. But watch out for some shady tactics, as 77 year-old Rose Green appears set to run with the 80 & up division in what will surely be the greatest sporting scandal of modern times.
2. US vs World events [12:38 - 2:52 PM on Saturday]
These events are always the most star-studded contest at the meet for both men and women. Past runners include Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin, Yohan Blake, Michael Johnson, Carmelita Jeter, Allyson Felix and Flo-Jo. This year, Olympic relay gold medalists Morolake Akinosun, English Gardner, Natasha Hastings and reigning individual Olympic champion Elaine Thompson will run on the women’s side, while Olympians Bryshon Nellum and Wallace Spearmon will run on the men’s side. For the men, the 4x100m event will be run at 12:50 PM on Saturday, with the sprint medley at 2:10 PM and the 4x400m event at 2:35 PM. For the women, the 4x100m event will start at 12:38 PM on Saturday, followed by the sprint medley at 2:00 PM and the 4x400m event at 2:52 PM. If you want to see truly world-class (and world-famous) talent sprinting for glory at the Penn Relays, the US vs World events are a must-see.
3. College men’s 4 x mile [1:15 PM on Saturday]
Last year’s Penn Relays saw the Penn bring home the gold in the 4 x mile event for the Quakers’ first Relays title in any event since 1974. But a repeat this year will be tough with the graduation of former anchor and superstar Tom Awad. The Quakers still have a good shot at the win, though. Awad will be replaced at the anchor spot by senior Chris Hatler, who is capable of a four-minute mile. Nick Tuck, Ross Wilson and Colin Daly, all of whom can run within 10 seconds of that pace, will round out the squad as the Red and Blue look to defend their first title in that event in 66 years. To do it, they’ll have to beat out powerhouse schools such as Michigan and Indiana as well as Ivy foes Princeton and Cornell in an 18-team field.
4. Throwing events [Thursday & Friday women’s, Friday & Saturday men’s]
Do you want to see strong people throw various objects a ridiculously far distance? Of course you do. Especially if it’s your fellow Quakers leading the way. Freshman Maura Kimmel has been dominating her competition all year long, and she’ll have the chance to prove her abilities on the big stage in Thursday’s discus (9:00 AM) and shot put throw (12:45 PM) events. Isis Trotman will also be among the Quakers competing in both events and will throw the shot put as well at 2:30 PM, while Lisa Sesink-Clee will represent Penn in Friday’s javelin throw (4:45 PM). The Penn men will also be well-represented in the throwing events, with Noah Kennedy-White leading the way for the shot put (Friday at 1:15 PM) and discus (Saturday at 12:30 PM), while Sean Ryan will headline the squad in the hammer throw (Saturday at 3:15 PM) and Sam Kaplan will do so in the Javelin event (Saturday at 9:00 AM). If superhuman strength appeals to you more than speed and endurance, these throwing events are something you’ll want to see.
5. 3000m Steeplechase [7:40-8:10 PM on Thursday]
If you think most sports would be better if an obstacle course were involved, this is the event for you. In this long race, the runners must keep a quick pace while jumping over barriers and mud puddles. And if a runner can’t quite make the jump, things can get messy. There will be impressive athleticism on display, but there’s also good potential for a cheap laugh at the expense of people in better shape than you. More importantly, there’s potential for Penn to make a splash (hopefully, for the Quakers, not literally) in the event, as both the men’s and women’s fields will feature some strong Red and Blue talent. Ross Wilson will lead the way for the men as the ninth-seeded runner in the field, while Julianna Catania and Carole Harsch will compete for the women. Check out the race and enjoy, but if you’re going to rush the track shirtless during one of the events holding a homemade sign, choose this event at your own peril.
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