The 112th annual Penn Relays celebrates the accomplishments of amateur runners at the high school and college level from across the country. An expected 100,000 spectators will gather in Philadelphia over the course of the next three days to watch as 22,000 of the nation’s fastest and most accomplished runners lay their claim as the nation’s elite, making it the most watched athletic competition in the world aside from the Olympics and the World Championships.
Half of these 22,000 participants will come from high schools around the country. Of those 11,000 or so high school participants, four made the trip from the Bay State, via Lincoln-Sudbury High School. The Warriors’ quartet of Molly Binder, Dana Jamieson, Claire Arthur, and Emily Mepham are one of 12 teams competing in the 4x800 relay competition.
“The tradition of the meet is so historic, you’ve had Carl Lewis, Wilma Rudolph run here,” L-S coach Mel Gonsavles said.
The Warriors’ relay team earned entry to the Penn Relays by posting a time of 9 minutes, 11 seconds at a national indoor tournament in New York. The Warriors finished eighth out of the 12 participants Friday afternoon, with a time of 9:19. The winners of the event and heavy favorites represented Eleanor Roosevelt High, from just outside Baltimore, posting a time of 8:51, good for second best all-time for a high school girls’ team in that event.
In fairness, it was not the same L-S team that qualified for the event. Sophomore Jessica Griffin plays lacrosse for the Warriors, and was unable to feature alongside teammates Binder, Jamieson, and Mepham. In Griffin’s absence, Gonsalves inserted Arthur, who, though just a freshman, impressed her coach by handling the magnitude of the event with a veteran-like performance, belying her inexperience.
“You have to hand it to the youngster,” Gonsalves said of Arthur who posted a time of 2:25 on her leg of the competition. “The other girls [all juniors] have been to nationals and won state championships before, so to compete like she did in an Olympic-style environment is incredible.”
The trip to Philadelphia might have proved more taxing than the qualification for the L-S team. The Warriors were fresh off a pivotal win over league rival Newton South on Wednesday afternoon, before hopping on a plane that night to make it for a 9:30 a.m. preliminary race Thursday morning. After Friday’s final run, it was back on a plane for to make it back for Saturday morning’s relays at Andover, where Gonsalves will afford his relay team a well-deserved day off.
“It’s been three emotional efforts in a row and I just have to tip my cap to the girls,” Gonsalves said. “They can be spectators tomorrow and cheer the rest of the team on.”
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