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Tenacious Track Teams Compete at Penn Relays

Teddy Glover ’21
Since 1895, top caliber high school, college, and club runners from all over the country have flocked to the University of Pennsylvania in late April to compete in the Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States.
Ever since Hopkins’ former Track and Field coach, Charles O’Connell, used his connections to his alma mater to allow Hopkins to participate, the Hopkins Boys and Girls Track and Field teams have attended each year. Since then, the tradition has continued, and Hopkins sends a team each Spring. This year was no different, as selected Hopkins athletes raced against the best in the country on April 26 and 27.

The incredible experience does not get lost on participants. Maliya Ellis ’19, Girls Track and Field captain, who will be attending the Penn Relays for the fourth straight year, recalled, “What I always remember the most is the incredible energy of the stadium, always filled with hundreds of athletes and fans, which is rare to see at a track meet.” George Kosinski ’19, a captain of Boys Track and Field, said,“Penn Relays is always a great experience as we get to run in a big stadium with thousands of cheering fans.”

The Penn Relays draw some of the biggest names in track and field or those poised to make the next step to greatness. Christie said, “I am able to watch professional runners compete which is fantastic.” Kosinski recalled: “Last
year we saw Olympian Justin Gatlin run on Team USA in a USA vs The World race.”

However, the Hopkins Track and Field Teams are not just spectators of these budding stars: the Penn Relays bring such soon-to-be professionals and high school athletes from schools like Hopkins together. Christie said, “Being able to compete in the Penn Relays is very humbling for me. I get the chance to compete on the same track that Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin ran on.”

This level of competition is not only memorable but inspiring, too. Kaila Spearman ’21 reflected on the “opportunity to be able to run with such a wide variety of people from so many places: It’s such an inspiring experience, because it motivates me to want to be an even bet- ter runner when I see how other people put their training to use while they are racing.” Ellis seconded that: “Watching the best high school teams in thecountry compete is intimidating, but
also really inspiring. You know immediately everyone here is on another level.”

For Ranease Brown ’21, the motivation to succeed comes from the opportunity to build camaraderie with her teammates at the Penn Relays. Brown said “Competing at Penn Relays means [an]opportunity for me. It’s an opportunity for me to grow closer to my teammates while representing Hopkins and all the runners at Hopkins because not everyone is able to go. I expect to create a stronger bond with the girls because we all are in the race together. We have to train together, run together, and stay together in order to win.” The Penn Relays mean something different to everyone, but the underlying motivation to succeed is ever present.

This year, the beleaguered Hopkins Boys and Girls Track and Field team headed to the Penn Relays with mixed expectations. Some, like Kosinski, had specific goals: “I expected us as a team to run at least as fast as last year when we
ran it [the 4x400 relay]in three minutes and thirty-six seconds.” Others, such as Christie, were more hesitant to expect results as “many members of [the] team have been sick and injured this year [or] are still sick and injured.” However, like many of the team, Brown kept a positive attitude heading into the event: “I was so very excited to travel with these girls and give it all we got in Pennsylvania.”

Despite the teams’ injury and sickness woes, Hopkins Track and Field still put on an impressive showing at the 2019 Penn Relays. The Girls 4x400 relay and the Girls 4x100 relay both finished sixth. The Boys 4x100 relay placed fifth, and the Boys 4x400 relay, consisting of Nic Burtson ’20, Charlie Mason ’19, Rob Tullonge ’20, and Michael Christie ’19 won the bronze medal, with a time of 3:41.52.
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