The 125th edition of Penn Relays was yet another historic layer in the rich tapestry of the oldest and largest track competition in the United States.
With marquee events taking place on each day of the meet, there were many unforgettable moments throughout the weekend.
5. Penn senior Anna Peyton Malizia’s high jump into history
There is not much that Malizia hasn’t won. Until Saturday, a Penn Relays watch was one of those things.
The senior became the first woman in Penn history to capture the high jump championship, clearing a height of 1.82 meters on her way to glory. A three-time Ivy Heps Champion, Malizia now has her sights set on her personal quartet as Penn heads into Outdoor Heps next weekend.
For now, she can relish in her own achievement in what was an outstanding weekend for Penn track.
4. USA vs. the World: Where both David and Goliath got their share
Kenya has long been put into a box as a nation that produces the greatest distance runners to have ever taken up track and field.
The best feel-good story came as an unexpected surprise, as Kenya won the men’s sprint medley relay ahead of USA Red and Jamaica, which finished second and third, respectively.
Mike Mokamba, Alfas Kishoyian, Collins Omae, and Collin Kipruto finished in 3:16.21 to carry Kenya to glory over the two traditional sprint powerhouses by over a second.
USA Red came back for a victory in the 4x400-meter relay, finishing in 3:02.70. My’lik Kerley, Michael Cherry, Dontavius Wright, and Je’Von Hutchison delivered a powering win for a delighted crowd, defending their title in style as Canada and the Bahamas finished second and third, respectively.
3. Wisconsin winning its first Championship of America in 103 years
On a day when it wasn’t so sunny in Philadelphia, the Badgers shone bright to make some light of their own.
The quartet of Morgan McDonald, Corbin Ellis, and Eric Brown, and Olli Hoare, bagged Wisconsin’s second-ever Championship of America by taking down reigning NCAA champion Notre Dame in the men's distance medley.
Starting off with the 1200 was McDonald, a three-time NCAA Champion, who passed the baton to Ellis, who blitzed around the track in 47.39. Following Ellis’ effort, Brown ran the fastest 800 leg in the race with a time of 1:49:37 to pass the baton on to Hoare, the 2018 NCAA Outdoor 1500 champion and current world-leader in the event.
Hoare lived up to his billing, and the group finished in 9:47.19.
The best part? Wisconsin ran with two walk-ons.
2. Houston men’s sweeping the sprint relays
The University of Houston, a national track powerhouse, became the sixth team ever, and first since 2006, to sweep the sprint relays at the Penn Relays.
The 4x100 squad, which consisted of senior Brandon Taylor, senior Mario Burke, junior Travis Collins, and sophomore Nicholas Alexander, got the first picture with the wheel, finishing in 39.23 seconds, only 1.06 seconds shy of their national record set in 2018.
The Cougars have now won this event for three years in a row.
The 4x200 squad, composed of the same members as the 4x100 squad, took the title by beating the next team by almost two seconds, finishing in 1:22.04.
Next up, the 4x400 squad, comprised of Burke, senior Amere Lattin, junior Jermaine Holt, and senior Obi Igbokwe, completed the sweep for the Cougars. The quartet won the event with this year's NCAA record of 3:02.61 and will look to be the team to beat come National Outdoors in May.
1. Penn winning the College Women’s Distance Medley Relay
The Penn Distance Medley Relay team of junior Nia Akins, junior Maddie Villalba, sophomore Melissa Tanaka, and sophomore Uchechi Nwogwugwu made history on the first day of the Relays by becoming the first Ivy League women's team to win a Championship of America relay.
Not only did the Quakers beat the previous program record by more than nine seconds, running it in 10:59:44, but they also crushed their competition en route to lifting the wheel, beating second-place Notre Dame by over three seconds and third-place Villanova by more than six.
NCAA runner-up Akins, who was also named the College Relay Athlete of the Meet, ran the 1,200-meter portion of the medley, leaving the pack in the dust to pass the baton on to Nwogwugwu, who in turn ran the fastest 400 in program history in 52.22. Next, the baton was passed to Tanaka, who delivered under pressure and sprinted away from the threatening pack to pass the baton on to Villalba.
And Villalba brought it home without a doubt.
With the Penn contingent in the north stands passionately cheering each time she ran around the track, the junior clinched the title with a 4:37.30 mile, running right into the arms of her overjoyed teammates.
Penn track made history once again; it just felt a little bit sweeter at a competition as storied as the Penn Relays.
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