It’s that time of year again as runners from across the country (and Jamaica – a lot from Jamaica!) come to Franklin Field for the largest, oldest and perhaps most exciting track and field competition in the country.
Yes, the 118th running of the historic Penn Relays is here.
With his help, I’ve pinpointed a couple of Penn storylines to watch for students and alums going to Franklin Field this weekend. (To see Penn’s entire schedule, click here).
College Men’s High Jump Championship
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Last year, Maalik Reynolds became the first Penn athlete to win the Penn Relays high jump title since 1955 (when Will Lee C’55 shared the title with three others in 1955). He later improved upon that winning jump of 7 feet, 3 ¼ inches to capture a Heps crown the following week, and the sophomore remains one of the nation’s best jumpers this year. Despite being the top seed and favorite, Martin expects stiff competition, especially from a pair of Indiana University jumpers in Derek Drouin and Darius King. Still, there are a lot of expectations for Reynolds to repeat. Martin said that many Penn alums decided to sit in the section in front of the high jump area just to watch Penn’s star sophomore.
College Men’s Distance Medey Championship of America
Friday, 4 p.m.
This is an event that is usually one of the most exciting ones at Penn Relays. It’s also won that has been dominated by Villanova, which has won the race two of the past three years and 25 times overall. But Martin believes his team consisting of senior Brian Fulton (1200-meter leg), senior Brian Rosenthal (400), freshman Mato Bekelja (800) and senior anchor Ryan Cunningham (1600-meter leg) can make a splash. Martin called Cunningham and Fulton “national-caliber” mid-distance runners, especially heaping praise upon Cunningham, who put in a lot of hard work to shave his mile time down from 4:24 to around 4:02 since coming to Penn. And since the DMR usually comes down to who runs the strongest mile, Martin is hopeful Cunningham and the Quakers will be able to stay with Villanova and the other national powers in this event.
High School Boys Discus Throw Championship
Friday, 10 a.m.
As the top seed, East Brunswick High School senior Sam Mattis will look to defend his Penn Relays title in the discus. Why should this matter to Quaker fans? Well, Mattis will be attending Penn next year, having passed up full rides from some of the nation’s premier programs to be the centerpiece of Martin’s first recruiting class as head coach. You might want to get a sneak peak at Mattis, who Martin believes has the potential to be a national champion and an Olympic thrower some day.
High School Boys Mile Run Championship
Friday, 6:05 p.m.
Staying with the high schools – which usually has some of the most exciting races at Penn Relays – another Penn recruit will be a competing for a national title: Upper Moreland’s Drew Magaha. According to Martin, Magaha is the best 800-meter runner in the country and would already be in the Penn record books for his 800 time. Now we can see how he does against the country’s best high school milers.
There are other races to watch, of course. For Penn, the men have a good 4×800 relay team that has a chance to win the second Championship of America heat, and the Penn women will look to be competitive in the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×800, among other heats. And, of course, let’s not forget about local power Villanova going for gold in most of the distance relays, as well as the thrilling USA vs. the World races on Saturday that always electrify the crowd.
To see the entire Penn Relays schedule (and follow results live), click here. But if you’re in town, you should really try to make it out to Franklin Field to soak in the atmosphere and excitement of the country’s best track meet.