Memphis Track and Field Prepares for Prestigious Penn Relays
April 25, 2001
Memphis, Tenn.--- - After a one-year absence from the world's first and largest track meet, the University of Memphis men's and women's track and field teams will return to Philadelphia to compete in one of the most prestigious meets in the world, the Penn Relays.
The Penn Relays began in 1895 and have been contested annually ever since. The 2001 version is the 107th running of the meet, which hosts more than 20,000 entrants annually, more than compete in the Olympic Games. Contestants range in age from eight to 80 and come from all over the world to compete. More than 30 states and 60 countries are represented annually by high school or college teams, including a record-high 28 high school teams from Jamaica for this year's meet.
"This is an important meet because it's one that everyone looks forward to competing in," Head Coach Glenn Hays said. "I don't know if it's going to the big city or what, but if the weather is good, on that last day you're competing in front of about 40,000 people and we never compete in an atmosphere like that at all."
The Penn Relays has averaged around 45,000 on the Saturday of competition, with attendance for all three days pushing around 100,000 people. But the sheer size of the meet also presents some problems for competitors.
"You are always really rushed in the preliminaries," Hays said. "They have so many prelims that you really don't have much time to prepare for a race. But it doesn't seem to bother the good teams."
And in looking at good teams, Hays thinks his 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams will be forces to be dealt with.
"This is probably the best 4x100 team we have taken in awhile. If we run in the preliminaries there what we did here last weekend (40.71) with no competition, I think we should be in the finals," Hays said.
"And this is probably the best 4x400 team we've ever taken to Penn," Hays said. "It is hard to say, it is tough to run at Penn because it's usually cool or rainy and that's not the fastest track."
Memphis' competition against the stiff competition begins Thursday when Balasz Laszlo, a All-Conference cross country runner, races in the 5,000-meter run, beginning at 7:45 p.m. (EDT). The Tiger schedule features six events on Friday, including the 4x100, the 4x200, the distance medley, the 4x400, the long jump and the sprint medley. The Saturday schedule will wrap up in the 400-meter hurdles and the triple jump. Junior Delvit Rogers is not expected to compete due to an ankle injury he suffered earlier inthe season.
The women's team qualified so many individuals for the Relays, that they cancelled their home meet that was scheduled for this weekend. Like the men's team, the women's team will send a 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relay team, as well as junior Barbara Wine, in the shot. Freshman Keenan Gibson is tentatively slated to compete in the 100, she was accepted as a alternate competitor by the Penn Relay committee.
While this is a major meet for current members of the track and field team, it is also a major advantage when it comes to recruiting.
"Competing in that environment, that's something that prospects look at and it looks interesting to compete in," Hays said.
Following the Penn Relays, the Memphis teams will head to Tampa, Fla., for the Conference USA Outdoor Championships.