PHILADELPHIA--The Penn Relay Carnival began adding to the Wall of Fame in 1994 at the time of the 100th running. The class of 2007 is the 14th group of inductees and brings the number of individuals selected to 71, while 61 relay teams have been chosen.
This year, four individuals and four relay teams are selected by a panel of Penn Relays experts. The sole restriction in the nomination process is that only retired athletes (or those now competing as masters) may be nominated, and inductees are honored solely for their accomplishments at the Penn Relays; achievements in any other meets are not considered. Any relay team may be nominated, and nominations of relay teams and individuals will be accepted by the Penn Relays office at any time and from any interested party.
Three of this year’s individual inductees won six Penn Relays watches each. Lee Talbott and Marita Walton were early greats in the throwing eventsTalbott in the hammer, discus and shot from 1907 to 1913, and Walton in the women’s shot and discus from 1980 to 1983. Willie Gault, a contemporary of Walton, was a great hurdler and sprinter. Tony Darden was a major cog in Arizona State’s sprint relay triple crown of 1977.
Tony Darden- Norristown (Pa.) HS ’76, Arizona State ’78, Philadelphia Pioneers ’80
The Relays’ Oustanding Male High School Track Athlete as a junior at Norristown High, Darden went on to greater fame on the Arizona State relay teams which won a sprint triple (4x100, 4x200, 4x400) in 1977. All three set meet records with the 4x400 team’s lasting 17 years.
Lee Talbott- Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy ’07, Cornell ’09, Penn State ’10
A six-time winner in the long throws, Talbott won the hammer four times and the discus twice. He set a pair of Carnival records in the hammer with his 1909 record being supplanted four years later by a 163-7 record that lasted a decade. He also set a meet record with the discus.
Willie Gault- Tennessee ’83
Gault ran on five winning relay teams, including three winning shuttle hurdles teams, with the 1982 team setting a Carnival record that lasted 16 years. That same year he also won the 110m hurdles in 13.48, another meet record that stood for 11 years.
Marita Walton- Maryland ’83
Twice the Outstanding Female College Athlete of the Relays, Walton was a six-time winner in the throws. She is one of a handful of athletes to win the same event four times, and claims the distinction of having set a meet record with each of her four wins in the shot put.
Three teams from one race are being inducted this year, the three schools which broke the world record in the men’s distance medley in 1987. Georgetown won that race, with Villanova second and Mount St. Mary’s third.
While Georgetown set a world and meet record which lasted only two years until 1989, they won one of the greatest races in Penn Relays history. The team of John Trautmann, Darron Outler, Miles Irish and Mike Stahr ran 9:20.96, barely holding off the closing rush of Villanova (9:21.03), which ran with Sean O’Neill, Edwin Modibedi, Bruce Harris and Gerry O’Reilly. Mount St. Mary’s (9:21.67), which led the race through the first three legs, ran with Charles Cheruiyot, Davison Lishebo, Peter Rono and Kip Cheruiyot.
The fourth relay team being inducted is the 1983 Seat Pleasant Central (Md.) High School Girls’ 4x400-meter relay. The 1983 Seat Pleasant Central 4x400 team of Paulette Turner, Paula Bryant, Sabrae Hilliard and Robin Benjamin ran a Carnival record of 3:42.1, which lasted until 1988.