Temple track sets two school records to open Penn Relays

The Owls set a new distance medley relay record, and junior distance runner Kira Von Ehren broke the 3,000-meter mark during the Penn Relays at Franklin Field on Thursday.

Junior distance runner Kira Von Ehren (middle) competes in the 3000-meter race at the Penn Relays on Thursday at Franklin Field. | DYLAN LONG / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Eleven Temple University track and field athletes competed in the 125th annual Penn Relays at Franklin Field on Thursday.

Temple broke two school records while competing in six events during the first day of competition.

The Owls’ distance medley relay team of sophomore sprinter Mallorie Smith, junior mid-distance runners junior Millie Howard and sophomore mid-distance runners Helene Gottlieb and McKenzie Gelvin set a new school record with a time of 11 minutes, 30.7 seconds. Temple, competing in the Championship of America DMR for the first time, broke its record at the Penn Relays for the third consecutive season.

In the 3,000-meter race, junior distance runner Kira Von Ehren set a program-best outdoor time of 9:52.31 to place 11th out of 22 athletes.

Setting two school records at the Penn Relays and running against the nation’s top teams gives Temple exposure, coach Elvis Forde said.

“We’ve done well here,” Forde said. “We are trying to work our way up to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the area, the Villanovas, the Penns”

After running the 400-meter leg for the distance medley relay squad, Smith participated in the 4-x-400 relay with junior sprinter Madison Beecher, sophomore sprinter and hurdler Sydney Williams and sophomore jumper Aisha Brown. The Owls finished fourth in their heat and 27th overall.

Temple’s performance secured a spot in one of the three 4-x-400 relay races on Saturday.

Forde might make changes to the 4-x-400 team before its next race, he said. Gottlieb and freshman sprinter Marissa White are among the possible substitutions. Forde wants to ensure he sends the best team on the track Saturday to impress what is expected to be a large crowd.

“I have to make some decisions on who I want to insert to give us the best exposure because there is going to be a heck of a lot more people here that day,” Forde said. “And I want us to show a little bit better.”

Sophomore mid-distance runner Lucy Jones had a chance to break her program-best 3,000 steeplechase time on Thursday. She finished the race in 10:37.9, about one second longer than the record mark, to place 15th out of 32 runners. Jones fell while entering the last turn, which slowed her pace.

Senior distance runner Katie Leisher and sophomore distance runner Michelle Joyce each participated in the 5,000. Leisher placed 31st out of 59 finishers with a time of 17:07.99. Joyce recorded a time of 17:15.73 to take 38th.

In the morning session, Williams ran the 400 hurdles in 1:04.43 to place seventh in her heat and 39th out of 52 runners

Forde decided to scratch sophomore jumper Kayla Nesbitt-McEwen from Thursday morning’s high jump competition so she could rest an injured knee, he said. He wants to ensure the Owls are healthy for the American Athletic Conference championships from May 10 to 12 in Wichita, Kansas.

He also scratched Nesbitt-McEwen from the high jump so she could be well-rested for Friday’s triple jump, which has “more challenging” demands, he said.

The event has been one of her strengths this season. Nesbitt-McEwen set a personal record and placed third with a 12.23-meter jump at the Charlotte 49er Classic last month. She followed that performance with a second-place finish at the Penn Challenge on March 23.

“We’d rather have her for that event that she is doing extremely well in right now to see if she can move her marker a little further this weekend,” Forde said.

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