FRIDAY 2013 PENN RELAYS\\
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
PHILADELPHIA – Of course/of course, the 4×100 and 4×400 relays have been basic ingredients in
the NCAA Championships, for men and women, for years and years and years.
Seems logical, they’ve been basic ingredients in the Olympic Games, World Championships,
the Pan-Ams and all the other Area games, and continental championships, for years and years and years, too.
But some folks in the NCAA track and field hierarchy need to think outside the box once in a while.
And the last weekend of April – with the Penn Relays raging right here in Philly, and the Drake Relays
dazzling ’em in Des Moines, seems the perfect occasion to do just that.
Now that the International Association of Athletics Federations – after prodding for eons, it’s seemed – has
taken the great leap forward with the planned staging of the first IAAF World Relay Championships – set for May 2014 in the
Bahamas – isn’t it time for the NCAA to act similarly?
Sure is, we strongly think.
What would be a truly superb addition to the annual national collegiate track and field calendar would be
the creation of the NCAA Relay Championships.
No, it wouldn’t be limited to those basic two – the 4×100 and 4×400 (which the bigwigs may or may not wish to
continue on the standard championship meet program.)
But yes, it would be expanded to include the other six which are standard at Penn, Drake and every other
major relay celebration in America; yes, add the 4×200, the 4×800, the 4×1500 (or 4x mile), sprint medley, distance
medley and shuttle hurdles.
Don’t let anyone argue that this would take anything from the heritage of greatness that is Penn’s and is
Drake’s. Wouldn’t take anything away from them at all.
Fact is, the precedent is already being set – in another sport.
If the National Football Playoff Championship can interpose its way onto the intercollegiate gridiron schedule – as a
natural progression from the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton and Fiesta bowls, etc. – so too can the NCAA Relay
Championships. find its way.
Run it in the week now freed between the Division I NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships – and do it at
some site where spectator track – beyond Philly and DesMoines – is still a very big thing.
Run it as a scored team meet.
Let the announcers and the scorekeepers keep the crowd totally current with the points-grabbing.
Get the audience totally into it.
It would be certain to attract a huge audience. And generate incredible TV ratings. And silence all
those who keep telling you – so erroneously – that track just isn’t a revenue sport.
And if this thing works out as it surely would as a Division I event, then repeat the whole process in
Division II and Division III.
Downside to any of this? I can see none.
Upside to it all? Simply enormous.
Just ask men like Randy Thomas and Robby Creese.
And women like Amanda Eccleston, Ashley Collier and Natoya Goule
The shuttle hurdles is hardly a global event, but it’s still big-big here at Franklin Field, and elsewhere.
When rival Kent State took a tumble, the path was clear for unsung Savannah State to claim the
men’s 4×120 (yards) shuttle crown in 58.07.
“I didn’t hear him (the Kent runner) fall, but I heard the crowd react,” said Savannah anchor hurdler
As a freshman, this was his Franklin Field Relays debut.
His overview of the day’s proceedings: “The Penn Relays are beautiful.”
Tabbed the Friday Penn feature, the men’s distance medley lived up to its billing.
Creese’s 3:58.9 carry bought Penn State home ahead of Villanova and Oregon, 9:24.68 to 9:26.80 to
Jordan Williamsz’s3:58.4 anchor wasn’t good enough for Villanova. Oregon settled for third as Jeremy Elkaim ran
“only” 4:01.5. And Indiana commiserated with its fourth despite Andrew Bayer’s 3:55.6.
Creese was master tactician. His splits were dead-on. He knew “after that first 800, I wanted to make sue I could breathe.” Had plenty of puff for his winning surge.
Eccleston-anchored Michigan won the women’s 4×1500 in 17:15.47.
With everything on the line, she delivered, then explained, “I like running under pressure, the more pressure the
more ready I am to run.”
Collier clinched Texas A&M’s 43.05 win in the 4×100. “They all (her teammates) got me through it,” she said. “I had t
win it for them.” Yup, team-team-team all the way.
Goule anchored LSU to the sprint medley title in 3:44.26, in her first Penn Relays outing.
“It’s an honor to know we won,” she said.
The Penn title events all these splendid collegians won were dubbed “Championship of America”
But not really.
A lot of other great teams were in Des Moines, and elsewhere.
Wouldn’t it be great to get them all together, say four or five weeks hence, to have it out for real??
One man’s bottom line: no doubt about it.