In the last weekend of competition before the Outdoor Heptagonal championships, the men’s and women’s track and field teams have quite the stint in front of themselves. While several of the athletes will compete at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, which began yesterday and continues through into tomorrow, others will stay in Ithaca for the Big Red Invitational on Sunday.
By tomorrow afternoon the Penn Relays will hold a daunting 45,000 people in the stadium, including 8,000 high schoolers, 5,000 college participants, and 1,500 national-caliber athletes.
“I don’t know of a bigger track meet in the country,” said women’s head coach Lou Duesing.
Each squad will only bring a select number of athletes to the competition, as each athlete or relay team needs to be accepted into the meet by a selection committee before being permitted to participate. Not everyone who enters is selected to attend, and therefore the fields in each event are highly competitive.
Both the men and women have been successful in years past, coming away with personal bests and school records each year. The relay-dominated event also features several individual field and distance events. Last year, junior Evan Whitehall won the Eastern pole vault, while sophomore Muhammad Halim and junior Rayon Taylor went 1-2 in the Eastern triple jump. On the women’s side, junior Sarah Wilfred was fifth in the Eastern high jump. All four athletes have improved greatly over the past year, so even stronger results may be anticipated.
For the relays, each team will bring a number of athletes. The women’s 4×100 and 4×400 teams have been fairly consistent in past years in making it through to the ECAC championship race, while the 4×800 and distance medley relay have been placed in the Championship of America race on several occasions – a race which consists of the top-15 teams in each event. The Red will not know until its arrival which sections it will be seeded in for each relay.
As the weekend will highlight one of the deepest fields the Red have competed in this season, there will certainly be a chance for everyone to push their performances to the next level and finish out the regular season on a high note.
“The opportunity is there for people to do well; they just need to take advantage of it,” Duesing said.
Those not traveling to Penn will have their last chance to shine before Heps at the Cornell Invitational on Sunday. For some, this will be their last competition of the season while others will make the last-ditch effort to get their names on the roster for Heps next weekend.
“We want to give everyone a chance to compete one last time,” Duesing said.