The Penn Relays is considered one of the largest relay events in the world, and the Lehigh men’s and women’s track and field teams are set to compete.
The relays, which will take place from April 23-25, are the marquee event for collegiate and other track and field athletes, according to senior Steve Keith.
People from all over the world come to compete at the Penn Relays, constantly drawing the best athletes of all ages and allowing them to compete in a high-energy environment.
“It’s a pretty high performance meet and it’s at a critical point in the season,” Keith said.
The Penn Relays provide a diverse atmosphere due to the many different track and field athletes who participate, according to senior Lou Adesida. It is a very large event, drawing around 20,000 people each year. There are different levels of competition and ages, including professionals, college athletes, high schoolers, middle schoolers and athletes younger and older, as well. The Penn Relays have seen all different types of athletes in previous years, including Usain Bolt representing Jamaica.
“Just being in that environment is something special,” Adesida said.
At the collegiate level, some qualifications are necessary to participate. Athletes will qualify based on how they perform relative to others in their specific event.
“It’s all about how you stack up against the other competitors,” Keith said.
Other teams competing in the Penn Relays include the University of Oregon, Princeton University, the University of Alabama, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas and many other big-name NCAA schools.
Adesida explained that Saturday is the main day where the national athletes will compete, although the list of Lehigh athletes competing is not yet finalized.
As for the relay events, senior Julian Copeland, senior Justin Mahoney, sophomore Chris Del Rossi and freshman Jake Sabatini will take on the 4×100 race. Mahoney, Del Rossi, senior Chris Watson and senior Sebastian Nicewicz will perform in the 4×400. Keith, Watson, senior Simon Voorhees, and one more Lehigh athlete to be determined, are competing in the 4×800.
As for the individual events, sophomore Dan Reichenbach will participate in the triple jump, senior Ryan Mahalsky will compete in the 5k race, sophomore Lucas Warning will perform shot put and senior Ben Beauchamp will compete in the discus throw event.
The women’s team will be competing in the 4×100 race, the 4×400 race and the split medley relays. For their individual events, sophomore Courtney Avery will take on the high jump and junior Gabrielle Wardle will partake in the javelin event.
The Penn Relays is an important time for athletes because of the intense environment that pushes participants to their limits.
“You are going to be against competition that will push you to be faster than normal,” Adesida said. “We’re making it a priority to get more people to qualify for Nationals.”
In addition to the possibility of qualifying for Nationals this weekend, the Penn Relays are also indicative of the way the rest of the season will end.
“It will give us a very good idea of where our conference championship will go, being that it’s only a week apart,” freshman Taj Blount-Oden said.