Nine Temple athletes competed in the 124th Penn Relays at Franklin Field on Thursday.
Temple’s distance medley relay team of senior distance runner Katie Pinson, sophomore distance runner Millie Howard and freshmen Sydney Williams and Helene Gottlieb broke the school record with a time of 11 minutes, 34.63 seconds.
Pinson, Howard, Williams and freshman Lucy Jones set the previous record of 11:36:18 at the American Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 23.
“We had a great first day here,” coach Elvis Forde said. “It’s good to see our distance medley relay team be able to keep breaking their record. That means we are hitting our stride at the right time with it being championship season. And it seems to be that everyone is starting to perform well at the right times.”
After running the 800-meter leg in the distance medley, Gottlieb ran the anchor lap for the Owls in the 4×400 relay. She pushed through fatigue and helped the Owls earn a first-place finish in their heat with a time of 3.50.73.
“I always try to convince myself it’s easy to run off a short break,” Gottlieb said. “But when it comes time to run, I am reminded how hard it is. I try not to let it affect my performance, however. If I let it affect me, it affects my team, and that isn’t acceptable, especially at the Penn Relays.”
Forde was proud of Gottlieb’s ability to run two races with little rest in between them.
“It takes a lot of guts from her,” Forde said. “She was about three to four seconds slower than she usually was, but Helene does a great job of fighting through races. She was running with the lead in both events, and she did an amazing job of closing out to make sure no sure no other school would take those spots.”
The Owls sent seven underclassmen to Thursday’s competition.
Freshman jumper Kayla Nesbitt-McEwen took third place in the high jump with a personal-record leap of 1.71 meters.
Sophomore sprinter and hurdler Ebonee Jackson took 19th place in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:01.78.
Jones ran the 3,000 steeplechase in 10:47.54 to place 21st out of 33 runners.
Temple will also compete on Friday and Saturday after earning two wins on its first day of the Penn Relays. Forde said he takes pride in every victory at the Penn Relays, whether it is a championship or just a heat.
The event gives the program exposure, he added. Forde wants the high school athletes who race to see Temple compete and consider the school during the recruiting process.
The Owls’ runners also enjoy hearing their school’s name at the Penn Relays. Gottlieb called it a “top experience” in her running career. Howard, a native of England, also enjoys the environment at Franklin Field.
“We take pride when we run in this event,” Howard said. “The only event that can maybe compare to the size of the Penn Relays is the British Track Championships, but the crowds here are way bigger. The race is the real deal.”