The Penn Relays is the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States. Since April 21, 1895, the University of Pennsylvania has hosted the event at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
Several area athletes had the honor of participating in this prestigious event April 27. The competition left an indelible mark on the performers.
“It was an unforgettable experience,” said Cara Marsh, who ran on two of Upper St. Clair’s relays. “It allowed us to run against talented athletes from all over, and it gave us a chance to showcase our talents as well.”
Marsh’s teammates agreed.
“Great experience with high levels of competition,” said Ava Burlingame.
“The Penn Relays were unique because they provided us the opportunity to observe and compete against great athletes from different countries,” added Ashleigh Conn.
The Panthers held their own against some of the stiffest competition they will face this spring. It also gave them the chance to see how they would fare against the best as they prepare for the PIAA championships set for May 24-25 in Shippensburg.
USC’s 4-by-200-meter relay advanced to states during the indoor track and field season and rewrote the record books.
In addition to Marsh, Burlingame and Conn, Anne Ferry, Claire Hoffman, Mackenzie Veglia and Jane Madson made the trip with their coach Matthew Cosgrove, who had been to the Penn Relays previously in 2017 when Harvey Kane participated before going on to win a state championship in the long jump.
“The girls were really amped to get a chance to compete on a big stage,” said Doug Petrick, who is track and field head coach and cross country coordinator at USC. “It’s an electric atmosphere which makes the events so much more special.
“Because Coach Cosgrove has been there before, he added a sense of calmness. No doubt this helped the athletes achieve at a high level.”
USC’s girls athletes did indeed rise to the occasion.
Marsh, Ferry, Conn and Veglia ran a 51.50 in the 4x100-meter relay and placed in their heat.
Hoffman, Ferry, Conn and Marsh turned in a time of 4:16.77 in the 4x400-meter relay.
“The athletes did an awesome job in a competition that really unnerves some of the best,” said Petrick. “We are so proud of this crew. They did a fantastic job representing USC at one of the best venues for track and field.”
The Panthers represented themselves well when they returned to local competition.
During the South Fayette Invitational, Madson won the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.24.
CJ Hess and Alex Shaw raced to victory in the 800- and 3,200-meter boys events, winning with times of 2:02.38 and 9:46.63, respectively.
Additionally, the 4x100-meter relay team of Nick Ioli, Justin Straight, Isaac Kane and Holden Ford was victorious.
Other top finishers included:
- Ashleigh Conn-second, 300-meter intermediate hurdles
- Claire Hoffman-third, 800-meter run
- Holden Ford-fifth and seventh, 100- and 200-meter dashes
- Mackenzie Veglia-fifth and seventh, 100- and 200-meter dashes
- Anne Ferry-fifth, 400-meter dash
- Vianna Shiry-fifth, 1600-meter run
- Sophia Shi-sixth, 3200-meter run
- Natalie Rohrbaugh-sixth, 300-meter hurdles
- Steph Grunwald- seventh, 1600-meter run.
- Tommy O’Brien-eighth, 800-meter run
“For us, the SF Invite signifies the start of the championship season,” Petrick said, “and USC had a nice showing against some high-level competition.
“Everyone had a positive attitude and understand it’s time to shift gears as we move into the next steps on the road to WPIALs. We are looking forward to improving our marks and feeling fantastic in the upcoming weeks.”
The WPIAL track and field championships are scheduled for May 16 at Slippery Rock University. Top finishers advance to the PIAA championships set for May 24-25 at Shippensburg University.