With some of the world’s best athletes descending on Franklin Field for the Penn Relays, thousands will be in attendance to seem them compete. Although they might not be the main attraction, Penn track and field’s distance runners are hoping their performances will catch fans’ attention too.
And after Penn’s men won gold in the 4xMile Championship last year, the Quakers have plenty of reason to be optimistic.
While the Red and Blue will have to overcome the graduations of Keaton Naff and All-Ivy Thomas Awad, Penn will be returning an experienced pair of runners from that squad.
Seniors Nick Tuck and Chris Hatler are both excited to prove that last year was no fluke with another first place finish this time around.
“Last year it was exciting to win the four by mile, but in a lot of ways, it was kind of the seniors that year — that was their win, it was their wheel,” Hatler said. “So I know Nick and I kind of have a little grudge here. We want our own wheel for ourselves our senior year, so we’re going to come out and see what we can do.”
Tuck also spoke of how much a strong finish in the 4xMile would mean.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Tuck said. “Now that I’ve got the opportunity to do it here at Penn, especially with Chris [Hatler], it’s been an incredible experience. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything in the world.”
Coach Steve Dolan is still deciding what runners will join Hatler and Hunt, but the Quakers should be a top contender no matter who is chosen.
Earlier this year, Hatler became only the second runner in Penn history to record a sub-four minute mile on an indoor track, and he also finished first in the mile at the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships.
Tuck usually specializes in longer-distance events, but he proved at last year’s Penn Relays that he could more than hold his own in the mile. On top of that, this January, he raced out to a second-place finish in the mile at the Lehigh Angry Birds Challenge.
Outside of the 4xMile, Dolan is also excited for what his Quakers can do in the other distance relay events.
On the men’s side, the Red and Blue are also primed to finish well in the 4x800 meter and the distance medley. And on the women’s side, accomplished senior runners like Cleo Whiting and Ashley Montgomery will look to keep the Penn women competitive in their longer races.
Many of the personnel decisions are still being made for who will compete in the different specific events, but overall, Dolan is expecting a lot of from all of his runners. For the seniors, the pressure will be on to compete well in their last meet in Philadelphia, and for the younger runners, this may be the biggest stage they have ever competed on.
“This is a big stage for us,” Dolan said. “And it’s always exciting to try to win something at Penn. I think most of the years, we’ve been competitive in the relays, but it’s sort of a different level when you can win one.”
There’s no telling whether or not Penn can replicate some of its success from last year, but one thing is certain. These Quakers are eager to put on a show and take the Penn Relays by storm.