PHILADELPHIA — At the Penn Relays, history, competitiveness, and team camaraderie drive athletes to sacrifice individual glory for their team’s collective goals.
The Relays wheel, awarded only to winning relay teams and an icon for team success in track and field — bears witness to shared purpose and shared performance.
The Penn Relays creates a spectacle on the track that few meets rival. Here are a few of this year’s relay teams that promise to make this year’s event special yet again.
In the boys’ DMR, Purcellville (Va.) Loudoun Valley’s Andrew Hunter aims to become the first athlete at the Relays to win the 3000m, mile, and DMR. Hunter and his teammates will not have an easy road to the podium, though. River Dell Regional of Oradell, N.J. — which finished less than a second behind Hunter’s Loudoun Valley team in the DMR at the New Balance Nationals indoor championship this year — will aim for redemption in their pursuit of a Relays title.
Connor Lundy and his Fordham Prep teammates in the Bronx plan to battle Loudoun Valley and River Dell to the finish line in efforts to earn Prep its first Relays wheel in school history. Fordham Prep joins three more teams from last year’s top five — Burke (Va.) Lake Braddock, Lincroft (N.J.) Christian Brothers and Providence (R.I.) La Salle Academy, the defending champion in the event. As Hunter aims to make history, expect this year’s crop of talent in the DMR to create an electric atmosphere on Friday night.
Lake Braddock – which enters the Relays with the top time in the girls’ DMR — has not appeared in the race since 2010, but its return looks to be resounding as its seed time is second best in the country. Saratoga Springs of New York follows a few seconds behind, while Palos Verdes of California looks to steal a wheel for the West coast.
New York’s Warwick Valley, the fourth and final team with a sub-12:00 time, returns to the DMR after a year hiatus and looks to earn their first title in the girls’ DMR since 2005. With no returning schools from last year’s top five, prepare for four new girls to climb the podium and claim the coveted title of Penn Relays champion.
The Caribbean schools’ sprinting prowess and the distance running pride of American schools converges in the 4×800. St. Elizabeth Tech of Santa Cruz, Jamaica, returns to the boys’ race to defend its 2015 Championship of America title with three of its four boys who won. St. Jago of St. Catherine, Jamaica, follows closely behind St. Elizabeth while State College Area of Pennsylvania headlines the U.S. teams.
Kingston College of East Kingston, Jamaica, finished second in last year’s Championship of America race and returns with the fourth-best preliminary time despite racing with none of last year’s competitors. If Kingston College’s boys can improve with each race they run together, they may challenge St. Elizabeth Tech’s experienced team. Like every April, we must wait and see.
In the girls’ 4×800, Christiana (Jamaica) Holmwood Tech’s team is back after its 2015 win, however, return no one from their championship team. Each girl will be hungry to replicate the success of their predecessors, though; Holmwood Tech has the most victories of any school in the girls’ 4×800. Six of the top 10 American girls’ teams will be on hand this year.
Mamaroneck of New York enters with the second-fastest time in the field, only behind Edwin Allen of Clarendon, Jamaica. Lynchburg (Va.) E.C. Glass, Saratoga Springs, Lansdale (Pa.) North Penn, Clifton Park (N.Y.) Shenendehowa East and Annandale (N.J.) North Hunterdon conclude the contingent of top American entrants.
Less than two weeks remain until a deluge of athletes flood Franklin Field for another April weekend. This week, the athletes conclude their final trial races, the coaches assign their final few workouts, and the meet officials prepare for their final few hours of sleep before Relays week begins.
Fans, your job is to prepare for brilliance. This year — like every year — will display the sports’ finest athletes at one of the sports’ most historic venues. Just wait: the Penn Relays are almost here….
To watch this year’s distance relays selections and seeding, visit flotrack.org. To see the complete fields for the high school relay events, visit https://pennrelaysonline.com/Registration/HSAcceptances.aspx