Sprint-medley record highlights Penn Relays’ second day

Temple’s sprint-medley relay took gold in its heat and a new school record Friday at Franklin Field.

The Owls returned to Franklin Field on Friday for the second day of the 121st annual Penn Relays.

Entering the stadium of 39,130 cheering fans amid some sunshine as opposed to Thursday’s cold and rain, things were looking up for all competitors.

Starting off the day for the Owls was sophomore Sydnee Jacques in the triple jump, who placed 40th overall with her mark of 11.20 meters. In the same event, junior Jamila Janneh failed to set a mark to put herself on the board.

The 4×200-meter relay team of sophomores Bionca St. Fleur and Jimmia McCluskey, senior Michelle Davis-Timothy and junior Demeshia Davis would have taken gold in their heat had it not been for a slight error in communication.

Their time of 1:38.28 would have put them at seventh overall, had they not passed the baton before the exchange zone, which resulted in a disqualification.

“It’s very unfortunate, but the rules are the rules,” coach Elvis Forde said. “You can’t hold anybody accountable for that, [and] that was hard to swallow because those four young ladies ran very well.”

Davis explained she did not even find out about the disqualification until she heard it from assistant coach Steve Fuelling well after the race had ended.

“I don’t even remember who got DQ’d,” Davis said. “We were running really well and [it] really sucks. Our goal was to come out here and run faster than [1:40 seconds]. I really thought that we won, but we ran really well [and] I’m still proud of us.”

Davis will have a chance for redemption on Saturday when she competes alongside senior Hollis Coleman, sophomore Kenya Gaston and senior Kiersten LaRoche in the 4×400-meter relay.

“I’m excited for [Saturday]. At least I get to come back and do something,” Davis said.

The men’s club track & field team also fielded runners at Penn, where its Olympic development 4×100-meter relay team placed eighth in its heat and 16th overall in 46.61 seconds.

“Those are some of the old track guys that were on the program last year,” Forde said. “Some of them are still a member of the track club that runs through the rec center, so they came over [to] support us.”

Once 6:30 p.m. rolled around, the sprint-medley relay team of St. Fleur, McCluskey, Gaston and graduate-junior Blanca Fernandez entered the track. As the spring medley consists of two 200 legs, along with a 400 and 800, Forde said he put together what he thought would be the best overall team, taking into account the talents of each runner for each event in the relay.

His wits didn’t doubt him, as the team swiped gold in its heat and set a new Temple record with its time of 3:56.77 seconds. The mark put the quartet at seventh overall, the top Temple performance thus far in the competition.

After a strong lead-off leg, it was Fernandez who sealed the deal with a 2:11 split in the 800.

After breaking several Temple records in individual events, Fernandez said it is much more exciting to break a school record with her teammates.

“[I feel] really good, it was a little bit windy but everybody did [well] so this is the result,” Fernandez said. “I think this record is special. It’s good when you break records on your own, but when you do it with [three other] people, it’s even better.”

Forde said the performance gave him a better idea as to what time to seed the sprint-medley relay at next time around.

“We are in the process of earning our way back up and putting in marks that people can see next year and recognize and give us a much better seed,” Forde said. “We had one of the worst heats and you can always [ask] what could have happened if we were in a better heat. But, that’s one of the things you have to pay your dues [to].”

The Owls will conclude competition on Saturday with Fernandez in the women’s olympic development mile at 3 p.m., followed by the 4×400-meter relay team at 5:45 p.m.

Tyler DeVice can be reached at tyler.device@temple.edu or on Twitter @tyler_device.

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