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April 27, 2018

WHAT2WATCH Friday at the Penn and Drake Relays

Friday is Day #2 for the Penn and Drake Relays and the debut of Arkansas’ new National Relay Championships. Below is a handy visual schedule of the action plus previews of the big races of the day.

You can see all of the Penn and Drake Relays at and the National Relays will be covered on SEC Network Plus.

Live results links:
Penn Relays | Drake Relays | National Relays


9:00am EDT – Penn College Men’s 400 Hurdle Championship
Jamaican college track programs have been making inroads at Penn for several years now. G.C. Foster’s Demar Murray is this year’s Jamaican intercollegiate champion and is co-favorite with Hampton’s Jaelen Williams, the runner-up at the Florida Relays. Mississippi State has four hurdlers in the top heat – can you figure out how to run a 4x400H at this meet?

12:55pm EDT – Penn College Women’s 4×100 Championship of America
Auburn and G.C. Foster of Jamaica were the top two qualifiers.

1:05pm EDT – Penn High School Girls’ 4×800 Championship of America
Ten of the twelve finalists are from the USA, but Jamaica’s Holmwood Tech is the favorite to win for the second time in a row. Ridge (NJ) won at the New Balance Indoor Nationals and is expected to be the top American team fighting it out.

1:05pm EDT – Penn College Women’s 4×1500 Championship of America
Villanova has great depth and is the favorite to win for the third time in a row. If you’re looking for an upset, keep an eye on Eastern Michigan.

2:27pm EDT – Penn High School Girls’ 4×100 Championship of America
As is often the case, this final is overwhelmingly foreign: six teams from Jamaica, one from the Bahamas, and two from the USA. One of those two, Western Branch (Chesapeake, VA), is the #2 qualifier.

3:00pm EDT – Penn College Men’s Shuttle Hurdle Championship of America
The crowded schedule at the Penn Relays means the action never stops, and at this time of day they run the 100 meters on one straightaway and the hurdles on the other. Mississippi State has the best quartet of hurdlers on paper, but Jamaica’s UTech is a bit of an unknown quantity here.

3:05pm EDT – Penn Masters Men’s 100 meters
Former Chicago Bear wide receiver and Tennessee Volunteer hurdler/sprinter Willie Gault is in the men’s 55+ heat.

3:20pm EDT – Penn College Women’s Shuttle Hurdle Championship of America
South Carolina and Notre Dame are favored in this race.



3:00pm CDT – National Women’s 100 Hurdles
The new National Relay meet was billed as a meet that brought 16 power conference teams together for a great scored relay meet, and the initial entry lists backed that up. It looked as competitive as the best years at the Penn Relays. But as we got closer to the meet, those relay entries thinned out and most of the entries ended up in the individual events. A prime example is the men’s 1500. Virginia Tech showed tremendous depth in the event with their 2-4-6 finish at the NCAA indoor championships. They dropped out of the men’s 4×1500 and instead have six men in the fast heat of today’s individual 1500.

Don’t get me wrong, this will be a very good meet. But other than the 4×100 and 4×400, it’s not going to be a particularly good relay meet. And that means there is nothing about this meet that makes it different than any of a half-dozen other college meets. The must-see element has disappeared (with one notable exception below).

The women’s 100 hurdles is easily the deepest event of the meet, featuring half of the top ten in the most recent Track and Field News NCAA formcharts: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (Kentucky), Rushelle Burton (Texas), Pedra Seymour (Texas), Janeek Brown (Arkansas), and Alexis Duncan (Tennessee).

5:05pm EDT – Penn High School Girls’ 4×400 Championship of America
As with the 4×100, this final is overwhelmingly Caribbean. The Bahamians could pull out a win for the first time ever with St. Augustine’s (Nassau); they anchor with CARIFTA Games champion Doneisha Anderson. The Bullis School (Potomac, MD) won the New Balance Indoor Nationals title and carries US hopes.

5:15pm EDT – Penn College Men’s Distance Medley Championship of America
This is the classic Penn race and often the most unpredictable. Indiana and Notre Dame are the favorites based on time, but expect the unexpected. The Hoosiers last won this event at Penn in 1942, the Fighting Irish last won it in 1943.

5:30pm EDT – Penn High School Boys’ Distance Medley Championship of America
St. Anthony’s (South Huntington, NY) and Loudon Valley (Purcellville, VA) are evenly matched and both are capable of breaking the meet record set by Alan Webb’s South Lakes team in 2001.

5:45pm EDT – Penn High School Boys’ Mile Championship
Ryan Lockett (Poolesville, MD) was New Balance Indoor Nationals runner-up and Josh Hoey (Bishop Shanahan, Downington, PA) set a new national indoor record at 800 meters. This should be fun.

6:05pm EDT – Penn College Women’s Sprint Medley Championship of America
Defending champion Oregon skipped the Penn Relays this year because the Mt. SAC Relays were a week later than usual, and that opens up the competition to any of a number of teams. The three with the strongest anchors are Middle Tennessee, Penn State, and Clemson.

5:25pm CDT – National Women’s 400 Hurdles
There was a time not too long ago when just being able to see a star athlete compete was a big deal. People flocked to see Jim Ryun run or Kareem skyhook or Reggie Jackson swing a bat. It was why All-Star games were such a big deal. Then came sports on cable TV and the internet and you could see anyone compete anytime. Now the competition itself must have meaning. Track and field has struggled to adapt to this new landscape.

Today we have an exception to the rule: Sydney McLaughlin is running her first collegiate 400 meter hurdle race. Just getting to see her do this will be a big deal. Given her precocious abilities in high school and her marked improvement in flat running events, we should be watching two numbers: the Kentucky school record of 54.09 (held by Keni Harrison, who now hold the world record for the 100 hurdles) and the collegiate record of 53.21.

Here’s the thing: if McLaughlin is not on form, she might not win. Four more potential NCAA finalists are in her heat–Anna Runia (Miami), Mariam Abdul-Rashid (Texas), Ariel Jones (Texas), and Kiana Hawn (Baylor).

6:25pm EDT – Penn College Men’s Sprint Medley Championship of America
Jamaica’s G.C. Foster is the defending champions and broke the meet record at the Jamaican Intercollegiates. This could get very interesting if Penn State lines up 1:45 man Isaiah Harris on the anchor. Mississppi State is another team to watch since they won this event with ease at the Florida Relays.

6:00pm CDT – Drake Elite Men’s Pole Vault
The stars of the competition are Sam Kendricks (USA) and Shawn Barber (Canada), the last two IAAF world outdoor champions.

6:15pm CDT – Drake Elite Women’s High Jump
The USA’s Vashti Cunningham will get all the attention, but Erika Kinsey (Sweden) and Lavern Spencer (St. Lucia) are quite capable of winning.

7:00pm CDT – National Women’s 4×1500
This is a very thin field, just four teams: Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, and Wisconsin. It’s hard to see anyone challenging the Razorbacks.

7:25pm CDT – National Men’s 4×1500
There is no truly strong squad on the entry list, but expect old SWC rivals Texas and Arkansas to be at the front, along with Oklahoma State.

7:45pm CDT – National Women’s Sprint Medley
Just six teams are entered, with Stanford and Miami favored due to the strength of their anchor legs.

7:53pm CDT – National Men’s Sprint Medley
Again just six teams are toeing the line. Florida is the only team with an anchor who has run under 1:49.50 in 2018.

7:55pm CDT – Drake University Women’s 4×800
On paper, Ohio State and Iowa State are the favorites.

8:08pm CDT – Drake Elite Women’s 2 Mile
Jenny Simpson is the overwhelming favorite, but this will be the first race of her outdoor season and she could be vulnerable to sharper athletes such as Shannon Osaka or Brenda Martinez.

8:22pm CDT – Drake University Men’s 4×800
Iowa and Iowa State are the favorites, giving this race some local flavor. Those two plus Illinois are looking for points in the Hy-Vee Cup team competition.


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