Last year’s Bahamas World Relays was an amazing event.
This years’ event is May 2-3, 2015.
One week after the Penn Relays 2015. The Penn Relays had some amazing performances, which Elliott Denman wrote about in this feature.
Elliots’ comments on the fine relay events from Penn should also give you a bit of understanding of how excited the World will be with the World Relays next week!
And, RunBlogRun will be there!
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
PHILADELPHIA – The University of Technology prides itself on its academic offerings.
Its Kingston, Jamaica campus is populated with eager learners in its College of Health Science, Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies, College of Business and Management, Faculty of the Built Environment (within it the Caribbean School of Architecture), Faculty of Law, and Joint Colleges of Medical and Public Health, Oral Health and Veterinary Sciences.
But these nation-building, world-lifting students don’t make the headlines.
Or garner even a fraction of the attention generated by their colleagues at the Faculty of Science and Sport.
Like they did April 23-24-25 at Franklin Field, for instance.
University of Technology runners – call them as most Jamaicans do, the UTech Knights – sprinted off with three “Championship of America” titles at the121st edition of the Penn Relays, equaling the 2015 haul of Penn-championship trophy “wheels” amassed by the Relays-leading American school, Villanova.
Like many American universities, UTech sponsors teams in basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, field hockey and volleyball. Unlike many others, it fields varsities in badminton, netball, table tennis, cricket
and squash. But totally unlike any school in the USA, UTech declares that, now and forever, its flagship sport of all sports is track and field.
Might mighties Oregon, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU, Florida, UCLA, USC, etc. ever say such an outlandish thing? Take a guess, folks, but answers will only range from a polite “no” to a resounding “are you crazy?”
UTech’s philosophy is to the point. Track an d field reigns. The other sports occupy a second division.
With 16 C of A relay titles again at stake, eight for men, eight for women, last weekend in Philly, UTech and Villanova each took home three, Oregon and LSU two apiece, and Stanford, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Texas, Texas A&M and South Carolina one each.
In Jamaica, where the national motto is, “out of many, one people,” relay success stands to perfect reason.
It’s Villanova by a huge margin on top of the all-time Penn Relays title-winners – the number now is 126 (92 by Wildcat men, 34 for the women.)
But some quick arithmetic shows that UTech is doing some quick climbing. Its men have now claimed 7 Penn “wheels,” its women 4, for a total of 11. Considering that the first of these came in 2009, that’s huge progress. Villanova’s first win came back in 1955.
(All these stats, by the way, out of the wonderful Penn Relays program, which is chockful of all those years of historical nuggets, a bargain for any truly stats-loving track fan at 10 bucks a pop.)
Backtracking to this chilly Philly weekend, UTech’s men outstprinted all rivals foreign and domestic to claim the 4×100 (39.27) and 4×200 (1:20.97) by clear margins (Texas A&M ran second in the 4×100, G.C. Foster, also of Jamaica, was runner-up in the 4×200.)
Meanwhile, on the women’s side, the UTech Lady Knights dashed off with the 4×200 title over Texas A&M in 1:30.80, but sat out the 4×100 final (after qualifying) with an injury.
In past years, such luminaries as Asafa Powell, Michael Frater, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Shericka Williams have dotted UTech rosters.
This year’s UTech watch-winners (and be sure to remember these names) were Andrew Fisher, Julian Forte, Kemarley Brown and Tyquendo Tracey (men’s 4×100), Kavean Smith (joining Fisher, Brown and Forte in the 4×200), and Shimayra Williams, Chanice Bonner, Elaine Thompson and Shericka Jackson (women’s 4×200.)
The winners did it with total modesty.
Their reactions were to-the-point, right on the button, no bragging allowed.
Said UTech’s Kemarley Brown: “I’m very happy we won. It was great to win.”
Said UTech coach Damian Brown: “I’m so proud of my team and all the hard work they put
All told, all divisions (high school, college, USA vs. the World series, Olympic Development).
Jamaica athletes ran off with 53 Penn gold watches.
No wonder that one contributor to the Jamaica Track Fannatics website, urged, “please, if customs agents are reading this post, take it easy on them as they arrive home.”
Another Fannatics poster wrote, “A big thank you to those who braved the cold just to bring joy to us, our schools and our beautiful island, Jamaica, the land we love.
A special shout-out to all the coaches, management and support team who worked tirelessly to prepare our athletes. And thanks to all the loved ones who came out and
filled the stands, who made us feel so much love and appreciation.”
Per Penn tradition, the Franklin Field stands were chock-a-block with the fans
forever waving their beloved island’s gold-black-and-green flag. And when any given
race (a frequent occurrence) boiled down to an Americans-Jamaicans duel,
the “USA-USA-USA” shouters often found it hard to be heard.
All in good sportsmanship, of course and whenever any of them needed
a respite from cheering, other Relays-goers figured it was a good time to start some
“wave” action. Hey, consider what happens soccer fans have their not-so-polite
A goodly portion of the always massive Penn audiences
(this time a three-day total of 111,587 – 22,537 attendees Thursday, 39,130Friday
and 61,667 Saturday) again leaned in a Jamaica direction.
Even with UTech‘s mighty-good show, the Jamaica high schoolers were
yet again mightier in their own right.
Consider this: Jamaica high school teams went 1-2-3-4 in the boys 4×100 final (led by
Calabar’s Penn-record 39.63), 1-2-3 in the 4×400 (Calabar winning in 3:09.97),
and 1-2 in the 4×800 (St. Elizabeth Tech the winner over Kingston College in 7:38.88.)
And the Jamaica high school girls took three of four races, too – Edwin Allen High of Clarendon
at 45.40 leading a 1-2-3-4 in the 4×100, Edwin Allen again in the 4×400, its 3:40.41
powering a 1-2-4-5 domination, and Holmwood Tech’s 9:01.31 taking the 4×800.
Do the arithmetic. With eight scholastic C of A events on the Penn program,
that left only the distance medleys to USA entries – the LaSalle Academy, R.I. boys and the
Patriot (Nokesville, Va.) girls.
Amazing but true: the population of Jamaica continues to hover just under three
So the bottom line question: “Where, oh where does all this speed come from?”
Anthony Davis, the UTech sports director, once told an interviewer: “what we are today
is like a flower. You’d have had to plant a seed a long time ago to get where we are today.”
“A long time ago” translates to the 1950s, when such gold medal immortals as Herb McKenley,
Arthur Wint and George Rhoden began putting Jamaica on the track and field map; next
to the 1960s and 70s, when ex-San Jose State star Dennis Johnson returned from the USA
and convinced Jamaicans they can build solid college track programs on their own campuses,
(rather than, in many cases, seeing their stars crashing and burning as USA collegians), then on to the early days of the 21st century when the deeds of Usain Bolt
quickened the pulse of every Jamaican to record levels.
Bolt, of course, wasn’t at Penn this year.
But he will run for Jamaica at the second edition of the IAAF World Relays in
Nassau, Bahamas, this weekend. As ever, when “the lightning man” steps onto the
track, expect bolts from the blue.
Herb Elliot (the Jamaica IAAF member, not the Australian mile great) once put it this
way, “we genuinely believe we’ll conquer; It’s a mindset. We’re small and we’re poor but
we believe in ourselves.”
Penn Relays fans didn’t need to be convinced. They saw all this for themselves.
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
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