Before Temple University’s 4-x-400 meter relay team went to warm up, track and field coach Elvis Forde told them to use the crowd as motivation.
Franklin Field, the site of the 125th annual Penn Relays, was largely filled with fans from around the world as the Owls participated in the event’s final day of competition on Saturday. The Penn Relays’ final day holds international competitions called “USA vs The World.”
Forde wanted Temple to use the large crowd as energy during its two events.
“I said, ‘think about all these thousands of people watching you,’” Forde said. “That has to give you an extra incentive that even when you feel tired, you don’t want to kind of be the one that is behind and you’re going to want to be the one that pushed forward. Today, I saw that finishing.”
Sophomore jumper Aisha Brown, who represented the team in the high jump championships and the 4-x-400 relay, made sure she embraced the crowd.
“It’s amazing to be so close having so many fans here,” Brown said. “People were yelling from the stands that I didn’t even know and I think it’s just because we are a local team and people in Philly wanna see us perform well”
Brown ran the anchor leg for Temple in the relay and placed fourth in the high jump championship with a final jump of 1.74 meters for the second year in a row.
Last season, Brown finished in a four-way tie for fourth place in the championship with a best jump of 1.74 meters. The only thing that changed for Brown in the high jump from last year to this year, was her experience.
“Maturity is always a big thing from year to year,” Brown said. “We are a really young team. We had a big freshman class last year so of course, we’re more used to big competitions like this now.”
Brown sees the Penn Relays being held so close to Temple’s campus as an advantage, she said. The ability to sleep in her own bed the night before competition helps her performance, Brown added.
Brown also ran as the anchor for the Owls’ 4-x-400 team which included sophomore sprinter and hurdler Sydney Williams and sprinters sophomore Mallorie Smith and junior Madison Beecher.
Temple finished with a season-best time of 3.45.54 in the 4-x-400, placing in fifth in the College Women’s Eastern final. The Owls’ mark topped their previous best set by the same relay squad during Thursday’s heat.
After Thursday, Forde considered putting freshman sprinter Marissa White in the Owls’ relay lineup to improve the team. However, with White battling a “nagging” injury, Forde decided to use the same lineup as Thursday’s heat.
“Sometimes as a coach, you have to entrust your kids to do certain things,” Forde said. “Let them know you believe in them. And sometimes you got to help them to realize what they’re capable of doing. I taught that this weekend … the way they ran, I’m very happy and very proud.”
White’s injury also led to Forde’s decision to hold Temple’s 4-x-800 relay team which was slated to perform Saturday afternoon.
The Owls will have 13 days off to rest before the American Athletic Conference Championship from May 10 to May 12 at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas.
“All the teams around the country that compete, we all have our bumps and bruises,” Forde said. “And sometimes the bumps and bruises bring out some of the best in kids.”
Brown said she believes the team is prepared to have a better showing at the conference meet.
“I don’t really want to be hitting my [personal record] in this meet I wanna be hitting it at the conference meet in two weeks,” she added.