April 23, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - This Thursday will be the first of three days of competition at the 114th annual running of the Penn Relays, hosted by UPenn. A select group of Yale men will travel to the meet, which is held in Philadelphia, Penn. at the historic Franklin Field. The Relays will feature athletes from all age groups and levels of competition, hailing not only from the United States but also from abroad. Yale will send five relay teams and a handful of individual athletes to compete against a deep field this weekend.
Several Bulldogs on the traveling squad have already seen success at the Relays. Last year, senior Joseph Kingsbery placed third in the college section of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, qualifying for the NCAA East Regionals with a personal best time of 9:06.39. Junior Samuel Fox also fared well at the meet, winning the Eastern section of the high jump as he cleared a height of 2.06m. Nearly all members of the 4x800-meter and Distance Medley relays, which last year placed fourth and third, respectively, will return to compete at the Penn Relays this year. Archived results are posted on the website.
This year, Kingsbery will return to compete in the steeplechase, this time hoping to dip under the nine-minute time barrier. Another distance-runner, junior Jake Gallagher, looks to break the school record of 14:10.58 in the 5,000-meter run. Both hope to meet the regional-qualifying times with their performances on Thursday evening.
In the field events, Fox will once again compete in the high jump. Joining him will be sophomores Eric DePalo (pole vault), Reynolds Holmes (long jump) and Ted Galligan (400-meter hurdles), and juniors Jeffrey Lachman and Nathan Noll (discus throw).
Yale will also be represented by five relay teams: the 4x100-meter relay, 4x200-meter relay, 4x400-meter relay, 4x800-meter relay and Distance medley relay. Friday evening, the talented Distance medley of sophomore Chris Labosky, sophomore David Soiles, senior Tadhg O'Callaghan and junior Jared Bell could pose a threat to the current school record of 9:41.63.
This weekend may present the opportunity for the Bulldogs to earn qualifying marks or break school records in several events: the historic Relays could be the ideal atmosphere for such performances. Looking back at the history of the meet, there have been countless notable performances that have caused the "Penn Relays Carnival" to mature into the celebrated event it is today.
According to the official Penn Relays website, the Relays have provided competition for more athletes than any other track meet in the world over the course of its 114-year existence. Just in the past decade, over 100,000 athletes, ranging from age eight to over eighty, competing for high schools, colleges, clubs, the armed services, preparatory schools, junior high schools, middle schools, parochial schools, and elementary schools have competed at the meet.
The meet started when Penn's University Track Committee was looking for ways to boost interest in their 1893 Spring Handicap Track and Field Games, and they came across the novel idea of running a relay on which four men would each run a quarter mile in succession. Held on April 21, 1895 in conjunction with the spring handicap meet, the inaugural Penn Relays were an immediate success, drawing a field of approximately 5,000 spectators.
Over a century later, the Relays are still going strong, now having added races for a broader array of athletes, ranging from professional to youth categories. The three-day meet drew record attendance figures in 2006, drawing more than 113,000 spectators, including a crowd of more than 49,000 on the final day of competition.
In 1994, the Penn Relay Carnival Wall of Fame was created to honor memorable performances throughout the meet's rich history. Among the 57 relays teams that have been honored thus far is Yale's victorious 1915 Distance medley relay of Wilke, Barker, Poucher and Overton.
For a more in-depth history of the meet, click here.
Report by Bevin Peters '09, Yale Sports Publicity