History, Jamaica, Marion Jones and Bill Cosby provided a classic formula for the 108th running of the Penn Relays Carnival.
The presence of an Olympic gold medalist like Jones, the charisma of Cosby (a mainstay at the Relays) and the dominance of Jamaican runners reminded everyone who came to Franklin Field that the diverse flavor of the Relays had returned. The great mixture of talent and a festive atmosphere mirrored a European Track meet.
Thursday, the women’s day, was rainy and chilly for the most part, but the Temple women’s team pressed on to try and run some of their best times of the season.
The day started with the women’s 400-meter relay. The Lady Owls ran in a section that included Atlantic 10 rival Saint Joseph’s, Rider, and Savannah State, among others. Temple, which was in the lead at one point during the race, dropped the baton during one of the exchanges, diminishing any hopes of finishing first. The relay finished fourth in four minutes, two seconds.
“It’s unfortunate that we dropped [the baton]. We had a chance to qualify for [the Eastern College Athletic Conference],” Temple coach George Phillips said.
The day finished on a damp and disappointing note but everyone looked to Friday’s races for redemption.
The Lady Owls were back in action and the men’s team began its Penn Relays campaign on Friday. The day began for Temple with the men’s 100-meter relay. The men’s relay ran in Heat 10, finishing in fourth place with a time of 43.12 seconds.
“We didn’t have a good baton pass during the second exchange,” Phillips said.
Later in the day, the men’s 200-meter relay was under way. The men ran in Heat 5 and finished in seventh place with a time of 1:28.50. St. John’s University won that heat in 1:26.26.
Temple’s women’s relay was victorious in its 200-meter relay, winning in a time of 1:41.81.
For the first time in 15 years, the Owls participated in the Shuttle hurdle relay. The race consisted of four individuals who each ran 100 meters over hurdles. The women won Heat 3 in 59.01, in front of Texas A&M, which finished in a time of 59.18. The women’s hurdle relay finished ninth overall.
Phillips believed the time to be a school record.
“It was a good effort, with three out of the four girls being freshmen,” Phillips said.
Those three freshmen are Rachel Clinton, Jessica Dunston and Ashley Holiday. Sophomore Jaweia Campbell rounded out the relay team.
As the day progressed, the men ran their version of the 400-meter relay trials. The relay ran in the Frank Wetzler section, a heat comprised of only Pennsylvania teams, including A-10 rival St. Joseph’s University. The race was close and came down to the wire between Temple and St. Joe’s, but the Hawks prevailed in a time of 3:15 to Temple’s 3:16.62.
“The race was disappointing because I felt we could have run better,” Phillips said.
In the last race of the day, the women stepped to the line for the Sprint Medley relay. The relay consists of two 200-meter legs, which is half the length of the track, a 400-meter leg running the length of the track, and an 800-meter leg, which is equivalent to a half mile.
“I think it’s a good race because it’s an event where we can get the kids into a feature race, even if they don’t qualify for a race on Saturday,” Phillips said.
Temple ran in the third section and finished eighth with a time of 4:11.89. George Mason University won the heat in a time of four minutes.
Neither the men’s or women’s team could produce a qualifying time that would allow them to run on Saturday.
Next on the schedule for the track team is this weekend’s A-10 championship meet in Richmond, Va. The team looks to bank on their strengths in the hurdles and the 200-meter.
“I think we’re the strongest hurdle team in the conference,” Phillips said. “We also have three out of the four best times in the 200 for the guys.”
Saudia R. Mitchell can be reached at Saudia.Mitchell@temple.edu