Penn Relays is arguably Penn’s biggest sporting event. With the bright lights of Franklin Field shining down on Olympians and some of the best high school and college track and field athletes in the world, it is easy to miss the high school talent who represent the future of the sport and, in particular, the future of the Red and Blue.
A number of Penn track and field commits in the incoming Class of 2027 will represent their high schools this weekend at Franklin Field, including local Pennsylvanian Rory Lieberman. The Dansville native will compete in the 3000-meter championships next weekend, and said that one of the reasons he chose Penn was because of its proximity to his home.
“Another main thing that I looked for was a good team atmosphere and a good coaching staff. Penn really offered that," Lieberman added.
For a number of commits like Lieberman, it will not be their first time at the Relays. When he competed last year, it was only Lieberman’s second time on campus and he had yet to commit to Penn. He added that it was overwhelming to see Penn as busy as it was compared to his first visit to campus, but he enjoyed the electric atmosphere.
“Everyone is there for a common goal: to run fast and do their best,” Lieberman said.
Fellow commit Lindsay Yakaboski echoed a similar sentiment. She added that her experience at the Relays last year was a significant factor in her ultimate decision to commit to Penn.
“[Last year] was my first time at Franklin Field and it was amazing," she said. "I loved the track and it was a really fun experience competing there, so that really also sparked my interest in the school.” Yakaboski will be running the 4x400m and 4x800m relays.
While for most of the runners it will not be their first time stepping foot on campus, the Relays offers the opportunity for many commits to meet and compete alongside some of their future teammates.
For current high school teammates Ryan Matulonis and Nick Devita, the two will have at least one familiar face to turn to by the time they first don the Red and Blue. Matulonis and Devita both attend Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey, and both will join the Quakers in the fall. But this weekend, the pair will compete together in the 4x400m and 4x800m relays.
“It is really cool to be able to run alongside [Devita] knowing that we’re both going to be there next year,” Matulonis said.
Many of the commits wrapping up their senior year and preparing for collegiate competition representing Penn in the fall have reflected on the role that the Relays played in their journey.
“I remember watching from the stadium area and admiring the girls jumping," Adannia Agbo recalled about first experiencing the Relays. "I was looking at them, just wanting to do what they’re doing and be where they are.”
The new recruits will be joining one of the stronger programs in the Ivy League. The women’s team won the Ivy League Outdoor Championships last season and placed third during Indoor Heptagonals this winter. For the men's squad, the Quakers landed in third last June and finished in fourth during the Indoor championships.
Penn Relays will take place Thursday through Saturday. The majority of high school events will take place during the morning and afternoon sessions.