PHILADELPHIA – A race for the ages: the Quakers captured their first Penn Relays title in 42 years with a Championship of America victory in the 4xMile in front 44,469 fans at Franklin Field on a beautiful Saturday.
It couldn’t have been better scripted: a historic venue, the home team, an elite field, a close race, a senior on the anchor leg, a sprint to the finish. It was exactly what the quartet of Keaton Naff, Chris Hatler, Nick Tuck and Thomas Awad had dreamed of since arriving in Philadelphia their freshmen years.
“It’s just great to see dreams come true like this,” said Naff following the win.
Awad shared the sentiments, “This was always the dream — to win the wheel at a relay here. And to finally do it, it’s awesome.”
With 400 to go on the bell lap, Penn was fourth behind Iona, Indiana and Georgetown. The Gaels led for almost the entire anchor leg before Awad made his move on the final curve and surged with 100 meters to go. With Indiana’s Jason Crist still in the lead, Awad put everything on the line and sprinted past the Hoosier for victory as he put a half second gap on Crist for the win.
Awad closed with the second-fastest split of the race at 4:00.3. Naff (4:08.0), Hatler (4:06.7) and Tuck (4:11.3) did their part to put the Quakers in contention as it was a four team race going into the anchor leg. The foursome clocked a winning time of 16:26.30, just .54 seconds ahead of Indiana.
It marked the first Championship of America win for the Quakers dating back to 1974 and the first in the 4xMile since 1950. Additionally, the quartet ran the fastest winning time by Penn in meet history in the event as they earned the 10th wagon wheel in the specialty.
“It’s a real honor, I couldn’t be more proud of these guys, they work so hard,” said Steve Dolan, Penn Director of Track and Field. “We’ve talked about it for years, but getting to be in a Penn uniform and to win on this stage in the Penn Relays is about as good as it gets. It was a magic moment out there for all of us.”
Later in the afternoon, the Quakers returned for the 4x800 Championship of America with Elias Graca, Jeff Wiseman, Joe Novak and Drew Magaha at the helm. The Red and Blue finished in 7:24.47 for fifth place.
In the field events, Sean Ryan moved up in the record books to third all-time at Penn in the hammer with a throw of 60.52 meters, while Sam Mattis won bronze in the discus championship with a toss of 59.92 meters. Noah Kennedy-White was close behind in sixth place in discus, throwing the implement 53.8 meters.
The women also impressed on the last day of racing and were second in the college division of the 4x800 meter relay. Taylor Hennig, Gina Alm, Carey Celata and Ella Wurth combined for a time of 8:53.59 to earn silver and a spot on the podium. Amy Montgomery also earned a top-10 finish in the Olympic Development mile, clocking in at 4:44.53.
On Thursday, the Quakers posted three all-time top 10 marks and the distance specialists were front and center as 17 student-athletes competed during the annual Distance Classic.
Friday was highlighted by the men’s distance medley relay that broke a 44 year-old school record that stood since 1972. The Quakers were in contention to win the infamous wagon wheel into the final lap when Thomas Awad made a move to break the field, but Penn State and Georgetown stifled the Penn surge. In the field events, William Bishop moved up to number four all-time at Penn with a toss of 17.14 meters in the shot put to cap a great day at Franklin Field.
Penn returns to action for another big meet this coming weekend when they make the trip back to Princeton University for the 2016 Outdoor Heptagonal Championships. Action is set for May 7-8th at Weaver Stadium.
Penn Women at the Penn Relays
Discus: 25-Hojnacki (37.08m)
Hammer: 15-Wilson (49.74m)
High Jump: 6-Malizia (1.67m)
Javelin: 22-Sesink-Clee (37.56m)
Javelin Championship: 8-Hay (43.42m)
Long Jump: 27-Jiang (5.34m), 29-Berger (5.30m), 31-Miller (5.28m)
Shot Put: 37-Hojnacki (10.61m)
4x100: 6-Biney, McCorkle, Davis, Solan (46.45)
CoA 4x100: 8-Biney, McCorkle, Davis, Solan (46.39)
4x200: 13-McCorkle, Hlatky, Hennig, Solan (1:38.89)
4x800: 2-Hennig, Alm, Celata, Wurth (8:53.59)
Mile Olympic Development: 6-Montgomery (4:44.53)
3,000m Steeplechase Championship: 4-Darlington (10:25.62)
5,000m Championship: 5-Cochrane (16:33.00), 9-Gensib (16:42.31),
10-Cla. Whiting (16:44.69), 16-Hong (16:59.28),
27-Griffith (17:00.99), 29-Ryan (17:10.23)
Penn Men at the Penn Relays
Decathlon: 4-Knouse (6,219)
Triple Jump: 20-Palmer (14.02m)
High Jump: 4-Monroe (2.12m)
Hammer: 3-Ryan (60.52m)
Discus: 19-Cioffi (41.34m)
Discus Championship: 3-Mattis (59.92m), 6-Kennedy-White (53.8m)
High Jump:15-Pitt (1.96m), 18-Kirk (1.96m)
Pole Vault: 11-Benz (4.55m)
Shot Put: 2-Bishop (17.14m)
110m Hurdles: 19-Bowers (14.92)
4x100: 54-Bowers, Fitzgerald, Whiteneck, Duchow (43.67)
4x400: 32-Mangini, Magaha, Fitzgerald, Finch (3:17.13)
CoA 4x800: 5-Graca, Wiseman, Novak, Magaha (7:24.47)
CoA 4xMile:1-Naff, Hatler, Tuck, Awad (16:26.30)
CoA DMR: 3-Hatler, Wiseman, Graca, Awad (9:37.25)
3,000m Steeplechase Championship: 3-Smith (8:56.00), 6-Wilson (9:03.36)
5,000m Championship: 14-Shearn (14:13.20), 17-Shurtleff (14:15.91),
24-Luciano (14:26.63), 31-Monogue (14:32.03),
39-Webb, S. (14:35.78), 47-Wistar (14:40.18),
56-Hally (14:55.54), 65-Webb, K. (15:15.15)
Download: Track 4xMile transcript.pdf