This past weekend, both the men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in the 124th annual Penn Relays Carnival hosted by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field. The Penn Relays is both the oldest and largest relay meet in the world, attracting a crowd of about 100,000 spectators each year.
This year, the Blue Jays had a total of 32 athletes compete in the world-renowned meet, which took place from April 26-28 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Sophomore Ted Oh described the energy at Franklin Field over the weekend.
“It is absolutely insane. The entire stadium is completely packed. There are Olympians on the track right before us, as well as some of the best D-I collegiate teams. It is by far the most energetic, most exciting and loudest atmosphere we race in,” Oh said.
Oh further explained how the team dealt with the nerves that inevitably come with the chaos of such a large meet.
“We try the best we can to just treat this like we would any other meet. It is definitely nerve-wracking to have so many people watching you race, and the crowds and pre-race procedures can throw you off. But sticking to the routine as much as we can helps you go into the race feeling calm and ready,” said Oh.
Starting the weekend off right, the women’s distance crew had one of the most impressive nights in program history during day one of the competition.
Next, in the 3000-meter steeplechase, senior Caroline Smith and junior Tasha Freed both posted top-20 nationally ranked times, crossing the line in 10:52 and 10:56, respectively.
To finish out the night for the distance crew, four Blue Jays competed in the 5K, all posting top-30 times in the nation this season. Junior Felicia Körner led the way for the Jays, finishing with a time of 16:54, followed closely by classmate Ellie Clawson, who finished in 16:58, setting a new personal-best time in the event.
Körner was named the Centennial Conference Track Athlete of the Week for her impressive performance in the 5K.
Two more Blue Jays finished with personal-best performances, as sophomores Rebecca Grusby and Lauren Jacob crossed the line in 17:00 and 17:16, respectively. The Blue Jays now hold the top four fastest 5K times in the Centennial Conference so far this season.
Also posting a top Centennial Conference time that day was the women’s 4x400-meter relay team made up of freshmen Marisa Sailus, Hailey Sheppell and Alexandra Damron, and senior Lauren Roberts.
The men put a relay together for the 4x800-meter, led off by junior Giacomo Taylor, who split 1:58, before passing it off to sophomore Jack Armand, who clocked the quickest split of the day with a 1:56. Next, sophomore Vipul Bhat took the baton, splitting 1:57. Oh anchored the relay for the Blue Jays, splitting a 1:58 to bring the Blue Jays to an overall time of 7:51 that day.
While a number of Jays competed at Penn, the rest of the men’s and women’s track and field teams were in Shippensburg, Pa. for the Paul Kaiser Classic. At this meet it was the field events that highlighted the day for Hopkins, as a number of school records were shattered over the day-long competition.
To start, junior Maya Hammonds posted a new career best and school record in the long jump, leaping to a mark of 5.82 meters, which currently ranks third in the nation and first in the Centennial.
Thanks to Hammonds’ performance, the Hopkins women swept the Centennial Conference Awards for the week, as she was honored as the Field Athlete of the Week.
However, Hammonds was not the only new school record of the day, as junior Sophia Diodati threw the hammer a new program-record distance of 33.15 meters.
On the men’s side, sophomore Matthew Su stole the show for the Blue Jays, setting a personal best in the long jump with a mark of 7.43 meters, good enough for a second place overall finish. His jump is the fourth best mark in the nation so far this season. Su was honored as the Centennial Field Athlete of the Week this Monday for his performance over the weekend.
This week, the Blue Jays will be preparing for the Centennial Conference Championships, as the men attempt to defend their fifth straight outdoor title and the women their ninth straight title.
“Our goal going into conferences is always to come away with the team championship on both the men’s and the women’s sides,” Oh said. “For a lot of people, Conferences is the culmination of their season, and it is a great opportunity to take advantage of the competition and try to set personal bests to qualify for nationals.”
The Conference championships will be hosted this weekend from Friday, May 4 to Sunday, May 6 by Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa.