April 26, 2011

Storied Penn Relays This Weekend

Yale Will Also Host Springtime Invitational on Sunday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale Bulldogs will compete in a duet of competitions this weekend. The first is the annual Penn Relays held from Thursday to Saturday, one of the most famous meets in the world. On Sunday, athletes who do not compete in Philadelphia will host the Yale Springtime Invitational at Cuyler Field and Dwyer Track.

The Penn Relays have their start in an 1895 meet to inaugurate the opening of Franklin Field. According to the official Penn Relays website, Penn first hosted a relay race in 1893 as a way to make its usual competition more exciting, with four men each running a quarter mile. Two years later they invited high schools and colleges to a day of nine events: four for collegiate runners, four for high schoolers and the collegiate championship race. The NCAA Championships were not held until 1921, so Penn Relays was the only place for competition from around the country for many years.

In 1910 "Carnival" was officially added to the event's name because of the tent camp that evolved from spectators and athletes coming together around Franklin Field. Until 1913, there were no passing zones and no batons involved; the athlete running a succeeding leg would stand on the starting line and wait to be tagged.

Women competed for the first time in 1962, though a broad range of events was not developed until 1968. The Relays switched to metric events in 1976.

The Penn Relays are responsible for making relays a central part of track and field competition. They set the standard for adding relays to the 1912 Olympic program. A more in-depth history of the meet can be found here.

On Thursday, junior Anne Lovelace will contest the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Lovelace is the defending steeplechase champion at the Penn Relays; she won the event last year in 10:38.21. Lovelace is also an NCAA qualifier in this event. Her race is at 8:00 p.m.

Freshman Melissa Chapman and sophomore Elizabeth Marvin are set to race in the 3,000-meter run, also on Thursday night. Neither has competed in this distance since the Yale-Harvard meet on Apr. 16, so they should be well-rested. Both raced the 1,500-meter run last weekend at the Larry Ellis Invitational. They will compete at 8:30 p.m.

Senior Emily Standish will compete in the high jump on Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m.

Relay competitors compete first in heats, and the fastest eight teams in each heat compete the next day in the Championship of America final. The next eight teams in the ECAC compete in the ECAC Championship final, and then the closest eight teams following the above compete in the College final.

A dynamic team of senior Kate Grace, junior Gabriella Kelly, sophomore Annelies Gamble and sophomore Nihal Kayali will compete in the Championship of America distance medley relay race on Thursday. Grace, Gamble and Kelly will join freshman Sarah Barry in the Championship of America 4x800 meter relay on Saturday, the final day of competition. Distance coach Mark Young '68 said he is looking for fast races from both teams. The distance medley team will compete at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the 4x800-meter relay team will compete at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. 

For the sprinters, a 4x100-meter team will race in the preliminary heats at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, fighting for the chance to advance. Yale's 4x400-meter relay team will also compete in the Heptagonal race at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, as a preview of next weekend's championship meet.

Results from each event will be posted live at PennRelaysOnline.com, and the Bulldogs' results will be posted at YaleBulldogs.com at the end of each day.

On Sunday, the rest of the team will host the unscored Springtime Invitational. This is the last meet before Heps, which is the start of the championship season, and will be the final opportunity for Bulldogs to improve on their times before competing for a piece of Ivy glory on May 7-8. 

Field events will begin at 10:00 a.m. and track events at 11:00 a.m. A meet information sheet and schedule is available here. Results will be posted on www.directathletics.com and www.yalebulldogs.com at the end of the meet.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity

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