Franklin Field – Since 1990, (33 years minus 2 for covid, so 31 meets) we’ve placed 1st 14 times, 2nd 9 times, 3rd 2 times, 4th 5 times and worse than 4th only 3 times (See Penn Relays Archive above). To sum up, not only have we dominated over the years, we’ve finished no worse than fourth only 3 times. That’s top three medals 25 out of 31 contests. All that being said, there’s been a drought lately with no first- place plague since 2017. Now, I could go back further in our history but you get the point.

On paper, our 3:22.80 was three seconds better than the nearest team. Was 3:22 a fluke? Would other teams step up? Would we find a way to lose? All possibilities. With a scratch start, like a distance race, you must consider changing your order to establish position early or you’re screwed. I decided to keep my regular lead-off (Jonah Sydney PR 51.64) figuring if he keeps us close, we’d be OK. Upper Dublin showed their hand by leading with their best guy as did PW. 

Jonah got a good start getting out well when the guys in the back got tangled up and went down causing a recall. Being Mr. Positive, “Here we go” I thought, “Now he’ll get boxed in.” Nope, stayed out of trouble bringing in the baton a close-enough 4th in 53.14. (All the lead-off times were slow. UD’s kid has gone 49-point but only managed a 51.4) Fun Fact: UD’s lead-off is Elijah Smith, son of our own Wayne Smith, 1998 800 State Champ!

Next up, soph Dominic Harvey-Sheppard has been a PR machine over the last month dropping a 21.82 200 (soph school record) and a 38.00 300 hurdles (#2 State-wide). Determined to catch up right away, his enthusiasm almost got the best of him as he jostled Cheltenham while passing and cut inside PW, almost going down AND dropping the baton. He managed to keep his composure, tracking Upper Dublin and powering past in the turn splitting a PR 50.48 and bringing in the lead

First-time track guy, junior Amari Nash, has really taken to the 400 splitting 50-point twice this season and owns a solid 51 open but, also a first time Penn Relayer. He played cat-and-mouse with Cheltenham up front, letting their guy make the universal ‘dumb move’ in the 4×400 – kicking too soon. Amari (51.62) waited, let the guy go, and came back on him in the home stretch giving Grayson Ruffner the lead.

Grayson chilled down the backstretch pretty much daring anyone to come up on him. (He’s deceptively fast, capable of sub-50, great for a distance guy.) Another over-zealous move, this time by UD’s anchor at 200 with similar results as Gray (50.15 PR) was waiting for it and surged down the straight away for the win. 3:25.38. Not the time we were hoping for as other District 1 teams were dropping 19’s, 20’s and 21’s. But a win’s a win! As someone once said: “Let’s head back to Headquarters for debriefing and cocktails.” HEAT RESULTS


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