Starting this Thursday, hundreds of top athletes from all over the world will travel to the University of Pennsylvania to compete in the Penn Relays. This year will be the event’s 122nd installment and will run from Thursday to Saturday. The oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States always brings a large crowd to the University’s Franklin Field; last year it attracted — over 110 thousand spectators over the course of the three day event and should host no fewer this time around.
Coming off extremely impressive weekends both at home and on the road, the Cornell men’s and women’s track and field teams have a quick turnaround and will each send a contingent of runners to Penn.
However, given that Ivy League Outdoor (Heptagonal) Championships begin on May 7, neither group will turn out in great numbers and instead focus on maintaining their physical health.
“Since the Penn Relays are the week before Heps, we won’t take a very large group,” said men’s head coach Adrian Durant. “We will most likely run a 4x100m, Distance Medley, and Shuttle Hurdle Relay. A small group of guys will compete in the individual events as well.”
Durant feels that the small group still has an excellent chance to secure some victories for the Red come Thursday.
“We’re very strong in these relays and have a good chance at winning the events we’ll be competing in,” he said.
In addition to the relays, Cornell looks to stay strong in individual sprints and on the field. Junior Rudy Winkler will compete in the men’s hammer throw, an event in which he has had great success this year, and senior Max Hairston will run in the 110 meter hurdles, the same event he won this past weekend at Princeton’s Larry Ellis Invitational.
Most importantly, the men are just looking to stay healthy for next weekend. “For the most part, we will be saving everything up for HEPS,” Durant said.
The Cornell women have a very similar approach. After competing at the University of Virginia on Friday and Saturday before returning home to host the Upstate Challenge in Ithaca alongside the men, little more than a week separates them from Ivy Heps.
As a result, the Red will only compete in a small number of events, including several that overlap with the men. Four runners will partake in the 4X100 relay, and another group will run in the 4X200. Other than that, the remaining events are distance races — including a distance medley, a 5000 meter, and a 3000 meter steeplechase.
The Red hopes to have success but is also focused more on the following weekend. Head coach Richard Bowman has stressed the importance of staying healthy for Heps.
“Just [remaining] healthy is huge,” Bowman said. “It’s been a long year.”
The Penn Relays will begin on Thursday afternoon for both teams, and the events will be broadcast live on the NBC Sport Network on Saturday at 12:30. Cornell will also host the Big Red Invitational on Sunday, May 1st as the final tuneup before Heps.
Ivy League Championships — hosted by rival Princeton — are scheduled for May 7 and 8.