Chanman's Blog

Penn Relays Recap

The 2010 Penn Relay Carnival lived up to the hype. It was a great meet filled with dramatic race finishes and memorable performances. Writers at and have already done some nice write-ups on the meet so there’s no point in me re-telling the whole story of the 2010 Penn Relays. I’ll hit on the highlights and then list some links, should you want to read more.

The University of Tennessee Women pulled off the distance relay sweep for the second year in a row. Phoebe Wright ran key legs on all three winning relay teams and now has six Penn Relay championship watches, one for each of the six winning relay teams she has been a part of last year and this year.

The University of Oregon made their presence felt at the meet. The women had three top three finishes (2nd in the DMR, 3rd in the 4X1500 relay, and 3rd in the 4X800 relay). The men won the DMR and 4Xmile relay, and came in 2nd in the 4X800 relay – one of the most talked about races of the meet.

The men’s 4X800 relay was highly anticipated because Oregon was anchored by 2008 Olympian Andrew Wheating and the University of Virginia was anchored by freshman sensation Robby Andrews. Wheating is known for his big kick at the end of races, so it was a bit of a surprise when Andrews beat Wheating at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. The two would have a rematch on the anchor leg of the 4X800 relay; Andrews beat Wheating to give Virginia the win. has a nice story about the Wheating-Andrews rivalry with links to more stories about it.

Usain Bolt electrified the crowd during the 4X100 relay. You can see in the ESPN television coverage of the race that the public address announcer had to plead with the crowd to be quiet for the start of the race so that they could have a fair start. Cameras were set-up to get a computer time for Bolt’s 100 meter split. It doesn’t really mean anything because he had a running start, but it sure sounds cool and fast to hear that he ran an 8.79 split (much faster than his world record 9.58).

Athletes who either train with Shannon Rowbury or are coached by Shannon’s coach, John Cook, were in action in the USA vs. the World relays. Alysia Johnson anchored the USA Blue team to 2nd place in the sprint medley relay. Jacob Hernandez ran an 800 leg on the USA Blue DMR team. David Torrance (1600 meter split: 4:00.46) and Leo Manzano (1600 split: 4:00.03) were part of a blanket finish that had three teams finish within 0.07 seconds of each other (1st Kenya-9:24.97, 2nd USA Blue (Torrance’s team)-9:25.02, 3rd USA White (Manzano’s team)-9:25.04). Speaking of Shannon, she is scheduled to race the 5,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Invitational on Saturday, May 1 at Stanford.

The excitement of the Penn Relays was on display in the high school boys 4X400 relay championship. I won’t give away the end, but some things to look for as you watch the video of the race:

– Note how the runner in the green and yellow uniform (Vere Tech from Clarendon, Jamaica) on the second leg “cuts out” to lane five.

– The team in the yellow and red uniform (Wolmer’s Boys from Kingston, Jamaica) had quite a day. Three of the four boys who ran in the 4X400 championship also ran on the 4X100 relay team that set a new Penn Relays record of 39.78 earlier in the day.   

– Notice how the crowd goes crazy when Cheltenham from Pennsylvania goes by the Jamaicans to take a short lived lead. What a thrill for that team!

– Three teams finish within 0.38 seconds. Two of the teams are from Jamaica and the third one is Junipero Serra from Gardena, CA. Several California high school teams were in the finals, showing once again that California has some of the fastest runners in the world.

My final note about Penn Relays is something that makes me very proud. An athlete I coached at Sacred Heart Cathedral, who eleven months ago was winning her league championship in the 300 hurdles, got to run in the 4X200 and 4X400 relays for Ithaca College. Tammia Hubbard worked very hard to develop from a somewhat awkward freshman into a JV champion, and then into a varsity champion. Now she is a college athlete who ran at the Penn Relays in her freshman year. You can read more about Tammia in an Examiner article from March 2009. Friday Recap (Tennessee women win the 4X1500 relay. Oregon men win the DMR.): Saturday Recap (Tennessee women win the 4X800 relay to sweep the distance relay for the second year in a row. Oregon wins the 4Xmile, but Robby Andrews leads Virginia over Oregon in the 4X800 to prevent an Oregon distance relay sweep. USA vs the World coverage.):

Flotrack Coverage (videos of virtually every race):

Complete Results (with embedded videos from the Penn Relays website):