The 127th running of the Penn Relays kicked off on Thursday morning, marking the newest chapter of one of track and field's most storied traditions. We've got you covered with live updates from Franklin Field, highlighting the best of the action from Day 1.
11 a.m. — A full slate of high school and middle school action gets the day started, with Seton Hall Prep of New Jersey leading the way with the fastest time at 7:49.99 in one of the first events run at Penn Relays this year — the High School Boys' 4x800-meter relay. The first tight finish of the day comes in the Philadelphia Archdiocese Senior Boys' 4x100m relay, where St. David barely edged out Ss. Coleman-John Neumann with a time of 47.74 seconds versus Ss. Coleman’s time of 47.76.
The field events also got underway with the high school championships in discus throw, shotput throw, javelin throw, high jump, and long jump. In a back-and-forth battle between Camren Williams and Cam Brown in the long jump, Williams currently holds the advantage after leaping into the lead with a jump of 7.32m, a new personal best.
The biggest applause of the morning comes for the Philadelphia Masters 80+ team that finished its 4x100m relay with a time of 2:21.19.
1 p.m. — The first trophy of Penn Relays was presented to Ja'Mari Manson from Bloomfield, Conn., who took first place in the High School Boys' High Jump with a height of 1.98m. Then, after Williams held the lead in the High School Boys' Long Jump for much of the morning, Demario Prince of Jamaica's St. Jago snatched the top spot with his final jump — taking first with a mark of 7.42m.
4x100m relays for the High School Boys have been running for much of the last few hours, with over 100 schools competing in dozens of heats. With most of the heats wrapped up, the fastest times came from mostly Jamaican high schools. But in heat 10, IMG Academy of Florida and St. Elizabeth Tech of Jamaica led the way — both with times of 41.32. However, IMG narrowly edged out Elizabeth Tech by three thousandths of a second to claim first.
In the field, the High School Boys' Triple Jump and Pole Vault have begun. At about the halfway point, Trevon Hammer of Jamaica College leads the way in triple with a mark of 15.06m, carrying on the momentum from his school’s strong performance on the track.
3 p.m. — The afternoon began with Special Olympics competitions and the 100m dash for the masters divisions. Val Barnwell, who took gold at the World Masters Athletic Indoor Championship in the 65+ 60m dash last month in Poland, won his age category.
In the field, Jamaica College’s Hammer took first place in the High School Boys' Triple Jump Championship with 15.17m. In the High School Boys' Pole Vault Championship, Wyatt Stewart of Kentucky’s Madison Central won the event and set the new meet record, clearing 5.08m and breaking a record that had stood since 2011.
“I really liked the atmosphere,” Stewart said. “The runway is really fast. I was further back, so I was getting into my runs more. The crowd was into it.”
On the track, heats for the High School Boys' 4x400m relays took up much of the afternoon. The fastest time so far was set by Bullis School from Maryland with a time of 3:14.12.
5 p.m. — Heats for the High School Boys’ 4x400m relays continue through much of the afternoon as more and more fans continue to trickle into Franklin Field in anticipation of tonight’s collegiate events. One of the heats featured a pair of Penn commits — Nick DeVita and Ryan Matulonis — racing with Seton Hall Prep of New Jersey.
As the pair look towards the rest of the weekend, DeVita said, “Hopefully we get in the Championship of America and get to prove what we can do tomorrow.” In the heats, Seton Hall Prep finished with a time of 3:16.67, which put them in sixth overall, qualifying for the championship final tomorrow.
For DeVita, being able to compete at Franklin Field — his home for the next four years — was a special experience. “This facility is an amazing facility,” he expressed. “It’s just a beautiful place to run, so I’m excited to be able to train here. It’s a great place.”
At the Mondschein Throwing Complex, Harvard dominated in the collegiate hammer throw events. Stephanie Ratcliffe and Cammy Garabian won the two women’s divisions, while Kenneth Ikeji took home victory in the College Men’s Hammer Throw Championship division.
7 p.m. — Kicking off the evening's collegiate events was the Women’s 400m Hurdles' Championship Division, which saw Penn alumna Haley Rizek — now competing for Duke — come in near the middle of the pack with a 1:01.02 finish. Next up in hurdles was the Women's 3000m Steeplechase Championship, where no Penn Athletes competed but Michigan’s Kayla Windemuller set a meet record with her 9:51.60 time.
Despite no championship finishes for Penn to start off this year’s Relays, several Quakers still found ways to get involved in the historic carnival. Junior distance runner Phoebe White was one of many Quakers to pace an event this evening.
“I’ll go out and start the race at a fast pace so none of the other runners have to do as much work setting the pace,” White said. “I help block the wind and control the race until I drop out — then the competition finishes things off.”
“I’m coming back to pace the 5k later, and one of my teammates is in that; so [distance and mid-distance runners who aren’t competing] are just helping out teammates in any way we can.” she added.
Speaking of mid-distance, senior Zubeir Dagane placed third in the men’s 1500m championship with a time of 3:42.71 — a personal best. In the field, sophomore hammer thrower Scott Dochat’s 59.74m performance just missed the podium in Penn’s lone field event of the day.
10 p.m. — For the fans that decided to head out before the start of the distance events, a record-breaking evening was missed.
In the first of the final five events of the night, freshman distance runner Sahil Dodda set a new personal best in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, shaving off nearly two seconds from his previous best for a 9:08.81 20th-place finish. Following not too far behind was fellow freshman distance runner Silas Ruth, whose fierce kick also propelled him to a PR. Ruth’s 9:16.78 time was nearly three seconds faster than his 9:19.73 finish that earned him first place at the Widener Invitation just last weekend.
Going the distance, sophomore Katie Pou shattered her previous personal best in the 5000m race by an astonishing 16 seconds to finish in 17:07.50. Yet, in such a talented field like those offered by the Relays, Pou’s time placed her at 52nd out of 61 finishing competitors. Mirroring Pou’s success, the College Men’s 5000m Championship event ended with a trio of personal bests. Although no Quakers earned a top finish, junior Troy Hill, sophomore Vidhur Polam, and freshman Dennis Fortuna each edged out their previous best times in the event.
To follow a night already packed with personal victories was the ultimate track endurance test: the 10,000m race. Yet the event saw no competing Penn athletes in neither the men’s or women’s race. However, the Red and Blue can walk away from Franklin Field knowing they presented a strong showing on the first day of the Relays.
With nearly every competing Quaker finishing the day with a new personal best, and the bulk of Penn’s most-anticipated events still ahead of the team, the Red and Blue are set for roaring success on days two and three of this year’s Penn Relays.
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, Sports Associates Vivian Yao and Griffin Bond, and Sports Reporter Valeri Guevarra contributed reporting to this story.