In the final yet most energetic day of the Penn Relays, the Quakers finally found their moments on the podium as Penn’s womens team in the 4x800m College placed first, and senior Marc Minichello won the college javelin.
“Penn Relays is as big as it gets in track and field,” Minichello said. “So to have that type of meet at home, coming in as a favorite, it wasn't gonna be easy, but I was gonna do everything that I could possibly do to win the meet, and represent the stripes as best as I could.”
Before Minichello’s moment on the podium, the women’s 4x800 team explained how they pulled almost five seconds ahead of second-place South Carolina, crossing the finish at 8:44.81.
“We knew that we were in a good position to win, but you know, there's always so much uncertainty,” senior Caroline O’Sullivan said. “It's not a guaranteed win, but you know, you went out there to win, and we had our goals, and we tried to accomplish them and everybody did their part.”
Penn ran in front of a vibrant crowd who gathered for some of the most anticipated moments of the weekend. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin was scheduled for the Olympic Development Women's 100m Hurdles Elite in the afternoon, and spectators moved to fill the east border of Franklin Field where she would compete.
“I was really excited to come back,” McLaughlin said. “It's always a fun meet. But I also do think I just wanted to start my season off strong and gauge where I was at. This isn't my primary race, but I definitely wanted to come out here and put up a good time.”
McLaughlin finished first from lane 4 at 12.75, her first time competing at Franklin Field since being a high school athlete at Union Catholic.
“I remember running here with my team,” McLaughlin said. “It's very intimidating. It's a large crowd and there's a lot of energy here. But these were some of our best races because it pushed us out of our comfort zone.”
Penn track and field also welcomed back one of its proudest own, Nia Akins. Akins placed third in the Olympic Development Women's 600m Elite, behind Athing Mu in first and Natoya Goule in second.
“This is my first time back since graduating in 2020,” Akins said. “I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to be back and see the team and everything. It's like a reunion for us, which is really nice. I love being here.”
The Penn Relays also welcomed a newcomer to Philadelphia. Devon Allen, recent signee of the Philadelphia Eagles as a wide receiver, ran the Olympic Development Men's 110m Hurdles Elite to a first-place 13.11 finish. Right at his heels was Omar McLeod at 13.22.
“I went to the Sixers game on Monday, the playoff game, and I saw firsthand firsthand the swings of the fans,” Allen said. “So if I get in their good graces to start, that'd be good for my career for sure.”
McLeod arrived to the press conference a few moments tardy after Allen. Amid the numerous questions about football, McLeod joined the conversation in jest.
“So, if you guys didn't know, I’m signed to Cowboys,” McLeod joked. “But, I'm really happy that I got to come out here and have a great race under my belt.”
Even among a schedule dense with star-studded lineups, Penn track and field proved its competitive edge to thousands of spectators. As Penn's guests to the Relays depart for home, the Quakers conclude their biggest home event of the season prepared and charged for next weekend’s Ivy League Heptagonals.