As the hosts of Penn Relays, the Quakers' track and field program is sending a large force to represent the Red and Blue this year — despite the event occurring just one week before the 2023 Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships. Here are five Penn men's athletes to look out for at Franklin Field this weekend.
Devante Heywood (Sprints/Relays)
Despite being just a freshman, Heywood is already making a mark on the Penn program. At Penn Relays, he will appear in the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay events. But throughout much of the individual season, he has shined in multiple sprint events. At the Big 5 Invitational earlier this month, the Trelawny, Jamaica native won the 200m dash with a time of 21.43. At the Transatlantic Series just a slightly over a week ago, Heywood finished third overall — and eighth in program history — with a 47.32 finish in the 400m. At the same competition, Heywood was part of a winning 4x400m team and a 4x100m relay team that finished second at the event, but sixth in program history.
Luke Johnson (Steeplechase)
Another Quaker appearing at the Relays is sophomore distance runner Luke Johnson, who will be competing in the 3,000m steeplechase. Recently, Johnson finished first in the 2,000m version of the event at the Big 5 Invitational. During the indoor season, he placed tenth in the mile at the Rutgers Open. However, his real shining performance this year came during the fall’s cross country season when he came close to a program record with a five-mile time of 25:13.7 at Ivy Heps. Now back to competing in longer races, he is certainly set up for success at the Relays.
Shane Gardner (Hurdles)
Another freshman set to make an impact for the Quakers at the Relays is hurdler Shane Gardner. He will compete in the 110m hurdles — an event he won at the Big 5 Invitational with a time of 14.37. He followed that up two weeks later with a 13.99, good enough for second place at the Transatlantic Series. Gardner is also coming into the Relays red-hot as last weekend he completed a performance good for 10th in program history at the Virginia Challenge, even though he finished fifth in that event.
James Rhoads (Pole Vault)
Switching from the track to the field, sophomore jumper James Rhoads will be one of four athletes competing in the Red and Blue in the pole vault. For much of this month, he has been on a tear — beginning with a victory at the Big 5 Invitational after clearing 5.16 meters. He has kept improving in recent competitions as well, notching a score of 5.25m at the Duke Invitational. His 5.36m performance at the Transatlantic Series just over one week ago was good enough for third in program history.
Olatide Abinusawa (Shot Put)
One last Penn athlete to keep an eye on is thrower Olatide Abinusawa, who will be competing in the shot put. In several of his most recent meets, the senior has had consistent 16-meter-plus throws, and impressive podium finishes. He finished second in the Widener Invitational, Transatlantic Series, and Big 5 Invitational. At the latter, his 16.73m throw stands as one of the best of his Quaker career.