By Jesse Squire
April 28, 2018
Today is the final day of competition at the Penn Relays, Drake Relays, and National Relays. It’s an all-day party of track and field! This is where we wish we had NFL Red Zone-style whiparound coverage.
NBC Sports Network will be broadcasting the Penn Relays from 12:30 to 3:00pm (Eastern time), then switch to the Drake Relays from 3:00 to 5:00. Everything not broadcast by NBCSN will be available live at USATF.tv (subscription required). The two hours of tonight’s National Relays will be broadcast live on the SEC Network.
There is so much action to see that I’ll just break it down to a top twelve to zero in on. But honestly, you should be sequestering yourself in your TRACK BUNKER from 9am to 10pm with an adequate supply of beer, nachos, and jerk chicken!
12:50pm EDT: PENN USA VS THE WORLD MEN’S 4×100
Neither the USA nor Jamaica has their full “A” team running, but parts of them are. Any time you get these two teams together in a sprint relay it’s a big deal, but another issue is to see if the USA has exorcized its baton-passing demons.
1:35pm EDT: PENN COLLEGE MEN’S 4×100 CHAMPIONSHIP OF AMERICA
Jamaican universities have a five-year win streak in this event but Houston is looking to end that streak. The Cougars have tremendous depth in the sprints and if everything clicks they could challenge the Penn Relays record of 38.68.
3:00pm EDT: PENN OLYMPIC DEVELOPMENT WOMEN’S MILE
This race begins the moment the NBCSN coverage switches to the Drake Relays so you’ll have to have an extra computer screen for this one. It includes Ajee Wilson and Charlene Lipsey, two of the world’s best at 800 meters, moving up and taking on milers such as Mississippi State’s Rhianwedd Price-Weimer, the 2015 NCAA champion.
2:30pm CDT: DRAKE ELITE MEN’S SHOT PUT
The two best shot putters in the world are going head-to-head. Ryan Crouser (USA) and Tom Walsh (New Zealand). They are the reigning Olympic and World champions and no one else has thrown further since the advent of random out-of-competition drug testing. I’m not sure how much of the event will be shown on NBCSN, if any, but it deserves a lot of attention.
4:30pm EDT: PENN MEN’S 4×800 CHAMPIONSHIP OF AMERICA
In yesterday’s sprint medley championship, Penn State’s Isaiah Harris ran a heroic anchor leg of 1:44.74 to pull his Nittany Lions up from waaaaay back to the win. If he can do it again today they he will become a legend of the Penn Relays. Mississippi State, Indiana, and Georgia Tech all have the depth to make another run like that necessary.
3:37pm CDT: DRAKE ELITE WOMEN’S POLE VAULT
The women’s pole vault at this year’s USA Indoor Championships was insane. Katie Nageotte PR’d three times and became one of the top ten vaulters of all time and still didn’t win. Jenn Suhr cleared 4.81 — a height only three other Americans have ever beaten indoors — and finished third and did not make the team for the World Indoor Championships. This is the rematch.
3:37pm CDT: DRAKE ELITE WOMEN’S 100 HURDLES
A rough “power ranking” of the top US women’s hurdlers would probably put them in this order: Keni Harrison, Christina Manning, Sharika Nelvis, Dawn Harper-Nelson, Jasmin Stowers. I would say those are five of the world’s top eight. They’re all in this race. This is a Diamond League-level race.
3:56pm CDT: DRAKE ELITE MEN’S 100 METERS
Andre De Grasse (Canada) is one of the rising stars of track and field and he is opening his season here. Nearly every entrant is a sub-10.00 sprinter and both CJ Ujah (Great Britain) and Ameer Webb (USA) are legitimate world-class stars.
4:41pm CDT: DRAKE HY-VEE CUP WOMEN’S 4×400
The Hy-Vee Cup is the scored team competition in relay events and it usually comes down to the final event. Purdue and Ohio State are the top two seeds and they’re eager to reprise their battle at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, where the Boilermakers edged the Buckeyes.
5:20pm EDT: PENN HS BOYS’ 4×400 CHAMPIONSHIP OF AMERICA
Entries are determined after the morning heats so we don’t know who will be running, but it’s safe to bet that it will match up the best of the USA and Jamaica and the crowd will be going nuts. This is THE classic Saturday race at Penn.
7:59pm CDT: NATIONAL WOMEN’S DISTANCE MEDLEY
Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State are the favorites based on their 3rd and 6th place finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships, but Michigan and Arkansas are likely to be in the mix as well. The DMR is the kind of unpredictable event that is always great fun to watch.
8:30pm CDT: NATIONAL WOMEN’S 4×400
Heat 2 matches up Florida and kentucky, whose 4x400s have battled several times this year and are both contenders to be NCAA champions. Kentucky has superstar Sydney McLaughlin, who may soon be promoted from Supergirl to Superwoman.
I was second in the 1980 Olympic* long jump. (*Cub Scout Olympics, Pack 99, 9-10 age group.)