With day one of the 127th running of the Penn Relays in the books, attention turns to day two, which features a packed slate of action. We’ve got you covered live from Franklin Field, as some of the world’s best high school and college athletes vie for a chance at glory.
11 a.m. — High School Girls' relays kicked off Day Two, with the 4x800-meter and 4x100m relays taking center stage. For the first event, hundreds of teams participated in a fierce competition where teams needed to run under 49 seconds to qualify for the finals. Unfortunately, this means that for some, finishing first in their heat is by no means a guarantee to qualify for the finals.
“Definitely the track here at Penn, once you see it and you’re on it, it elevates you to run your best time,” Nora Kissi of Hillside High School said. “That race felt good, nothing else can compare to this environment.”
On the infield, Penn commit Samantha Strydesky from Howell High School of New Jersey put on a show in the High School Girls' High Jump Championship, going back and forth with Aaliyah Willary of Jamaica's Rhodes Hall to claim first place.
“I really loved it,” said Strydesky. “I have so much fun jumping and I've always wanted to go into a jump off … [Today,] I really just wanted to have fun with the goal of not perfection, but confidence.”
Among the other Penn commits who competed this morning, Adannia Agbo and her 4x100m team from Morris Hills High School of New Jersey finished their race with a time of 53.20. In the High School Girls' Javelin Throw Championship, Madison Knier of Manheim Central High School is currently in 11th.
1 p.m. — The first college relay of this year’s Penn Relays was the College Women’s Distance Medley, which featured a team from Penn composed of junior Liv Morganti, junior Trinity Eason, sophomore Bronwyn Patterson, and junior Maeve Stiles. The University of South Carolina finished first, setting a new meet record in the event with a time of 11:19.09. Penn finished fifth with a time of 11:29.66.
In the men’s version of the event — which features legs of 1200m, 400m, 800m, and 1600m — Penn’s team included seniors Zubeir Dagane and Michael Keehan. The Quakers finished 12th with a time of 9:57.38, while Auburn won the event at 9:42.46 — just 16-hundredths of a second ahead of second-place Clemson.
Though rain started to fall on Franklin Field, the races continued.
Next up, Penn’s women’s team took off in the 4x100m Championships of America. Penn finished with a time of 45.35 and came second in its heat, while Texas A&M took first. The Penn team composed of freshman Christiana Nwachuku, freshman Moforehan Abinusawa, senior Katherine Muccio, and junior Isabella Whittaker finished seventh overall — qualifying for tomorrow’s final.
“This is my favorite meet that I’ve ever raced in,” Muccio said. “The energy is so crazy. Even on a day where it’s rainy and some of the worst weather that we have to deal with, it's still so exciting.”
Shortly after, the men’s team took its 4x100m heat with a time of 41.27, earning second place overall and qualifying for tomorrow’s final. Sophomore Aaron Stillitano had an incredible push as the anchor to give the Quakers the edge over their opposites.
“I definitely thought when we were coming in that we’d make the final pretty easily,” Stillitano said. “We had a couple guys go down with injuries in the last couple weeks but we still got the job done.”
3 p.m. — In the field, Penn freshman Daniella Oyenuga competed in the long jump. She led the field after her first attempt when she recorded 5.80m, but ultimately finished in sixth. Excelsior of Jamaica set a new meet record in the High School Boys’ 4x100m International with a time of 41.04. But the real drama came in the Championship of America race, where IMG Academy — which had the fastest qualifying time — dropped their baton and subsequently allowed Jamaica College to emerge victorious with a time of 40.97.
Both the men’s and women’s College Distance Medley Championships of America races had the crowd on its feet. Juliette Whittaker — whose sister Isabella competed for the Red and Blue earlier — anchored Stanford’s team, clocking in at 10:50.56. In the men’s race, Wisconsin came out on top at 9:33.82 despite trailing teams such as Villanova and Virginia for much of the race.
Amid the bitter cold wind and rain, Muccio took to the track again, this time to compete in the women’s 100m hurdles. Muccio clocked a 13.99 run but ultimately did not qualify for the championship race tomorrow. She was 0.11 seconds away from qualifying, finishing behind Kaya-Rae Dunbar of Howard.
Freshmen Shane Gardner and Jake Rose were up next in the men’s 110m hurdles. The pair competed in the same heat, which saw Gardner clock in at 14.46 and Rose followed with 14.85. Neither time qualified for a berth in the championship tomorrow.
5 p.m. — In the heats for the College Women’s 4x400m Championship of America, Penn finished second overall with its 3:38.96 coming in only behind Ohio State. With this finish, Quakers will qualify for tomorrow afternoon’s final.
The Quakers also did well in the College Men’s 4x400m Championship of America heats, finishing second in its heat and sixth overall. The top time in qualifying went to Texas A&M, which ran 3:09.41. Penn’s team will race tomorrow in the championship.
Off the track, junior Sarah Lavery tied for fourth in the College Women’s High Jump, clearing the first two levels before failing to get over 1.64m. Senior Olatide Abinusawa was 15th overall in the College Men’s Shot Put with a kept distance of 16.36m.
Some of the loudest cheers of the day came in the High School Boys’ 4x400m Championship of America, where Jamaica’s Kingston College narrowly defeated Seton Hall Prep of New Jersey, which trailed just 0.44 seconds behind.
7 p.m. — As Quaker fans awaited the evening collegiate and Olympic Development events, their excitement turned to the high school events as Rory Lieberman of Danville — a Penn track and field commit — placed first in the High School Boys’ 3,000m Championship.
Speaking after the race, Lieberman said, “This race was a big deal to me. Being able to experience [the Relays] last year, come back and return, and eventually being able to run at Penn next year gave me the confidence and made me want to win the race even more.”
In the High School Boys’ 4x800 Championship of America, New Jersey’s Chatham pulled off the biggest upset the weekend has seen so far. By defeating Kingston College by 0.02 seconds, the team became the event’s first American victors in 10 years — managing to get all of Franklin Field’s crowd on their feet as the rain poured on.
The women’s triple jump unfolded in the field, with Penn freshman Ijeoma Eziri finishing second with a kept score of 11.91m. She was joined in the top five by her teammate, sophomore Tumi Onaleye, who was fifth at 11.80m.
In the College Men’s Sprint Medley Relay Championship of America, Penn’s team — consisting of Stillitano, senior Andrew O'Donnell, senior Nick Faries, and freshman Liam Going — finished second in its heat with a time of 3:34.98. That time was good enough for 10th overall and wrapping up Penn's track competition for the day.
10 p.m. — The bulk of the evening consisted of college 4x400m qualifiers. A highlight came from the Johns Hopkins women’s relay team, which finished just 0.04 seconds shy of the event record that it set itself back in 2016. But the wet conditions proved too harsh in the men’s qualifiers, as a member of New Haven’s relay team slipped on the metal bar separating the inside two lines from the outer 400m lanes.
Representing Team USA, Isaac Updike defended his Penn Relays title with a first-place 8:39.21 finish in the Olympic Development Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase. One of the more entertaining events of the evening was the Corporate Distance Medley. On Running defended its title, crossing the finish line nearly 20 seconds before second place Vanguard.
Leading a host of women twice her age in the Olympic Development Women’s 5,000m Open/Club race was Sophia Rodriguez. The 14-year-old middle schooler finished fourth of 20 competitors with a 16:51.39 time, proving that the field of post-collegiate runners — who trailed far behind her for a majority of the race — was no match for her youthful talent.
Day two of the Relays was dominated by Penn commits, highlighted by Strydesky’s victory in the high jump and Lieberman’s triumph in the 3,000m. Competing at the place they will call home for the next four years, the duo rose to the occasion — giving Red and Blue fans a faithful glimpse at the success to come.
Despite the strong performances from the Quakers of tomorrow, the Quakers of today fielded a successful outing in their own right. As the rain pounded down on Franklin Field, several of Penn’s relay teams staked their claim on their home track. The men’s 4x100m, 4x400m, and 4x800m, as well as the women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams all advanced to tomorrow’s championship finals. There are still many questions to answer, many medals to win, and it will all be settled tomorrow.
Tune back in to thedp.com tomorrow for more live coverage of the 127th running of Penn Relays.
Sports Editors Caleb Crain and Alexis Garcia, Deputy Sports Editor Walker Carnathan, Former Sports Editor Brandon Pride, Sports Associates Vivian Yao and Griffin Bond, and Sports Reporters Andrea Mendoza, Allyson Nelson, and Kristel Rambaud contributed to this story.