There are not many scheduled meets left for the men’s and women’s track teams this year, but the next meet on April 28-30 is one in which the Owls have played a large role for more than a century.
The Penn Relays, the country’s largest track meet, is the closest thing the Owls have to a home meet this year. In Philadelphia, the Relay is a rite of spring.
“I think it is going to bring the best out of everybody,” coach Stefanie Scalessa said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun competing in front of such a large crowd.”
Scalessa said it is important for the Owls to maintain the success the program has traditionally had in the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 meter events at the Relays.
Judging by those units’ performances this season, that should not be too difficult, as those squads have been the strength of the team. Their finishes have landed them opportunities to compete in postseason competitions after the Atlantic Ten Conference Championships in May.
At the season-opening Quaker Invitational, also held at Penn’s Franklin Field, the men’s and women’s 4×100 meter relay teams qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships, highlighting a rather rough season for the Owls.
Franklin Field has been the site of many memorable moments over the years. For those who hail from the region, competing at the stadium is nothing new.
The competitors, who range in age from 8 to 80, have nicknamed the meet ‘The Carnival.’ Like a birthday, many come to expect it every year.
“I haven’t missed a Penn Relay since 1982,” Scalessa said. “I began running in high school and have been going ever since.”
Freshman Jessica Starace, a native Philadelphian, ran in the Relays all four years of high school and is currently a member of the women’s 4×100 meter team. She said she has mixed emotions about the meet.
“Competing in front of so many family and friends makes me kind of nervous,” Starace said. “Nonetheless, I am still really excited because this is my first as an Owl.”
The 111th Penn Relays will almost definitely draw a crowd. The question is, how many will be wearing cherry and white?
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org