Day at the Races

May 4, 2006

Last weekend, I attended the 112th running of the Penn Relay Carnival. In scope and scale, it is enormous, the world's largest track & field relay meet, bringing together high school, college, Olympic development and masters' performers on the last weekend in April each year since 1895. That's right, 1895. You can't even say last century anymore.

When you talk about the long and storied tradition of Georgetown athletics, Franklin Field is one of the shrines. I'm no spring chicken and this place felt old even to me. Georgetown is a big name inside this stadium. It was big -- long before 1400 board scores and 3.8 gpa's, or basketball national

The sign says it all


championships. Here, the name of Georgetown was big-time before the college boards or the sport of basketball even existed.

Hoya athletes have loomed large in these relays from the beginning: names like Duffy, Connolly, Marsters, and Burgess. In more recent years, the names have read Marzell, de Boer, McMahon, Woodward, and O'Connell. Dozens more in the intervening years kept the Blue & Gray flying high.

By Saturday, the crowd at this multi-day meet swells to 50,000 attendees and you begin to understand why they call it a carnival. Parents and Hoya track alums were sprinkled throughout the stands. Several joined with the coaches in attending the Friday evening reception hosted by avid GU track supporter Denise Furey.

Freshman runner Lise Ogrodnick listens to assistant coach and track alum Jesse O'Connell '03, who will depart for the west coast to run for the Santa Monica track club following the Big East outdoor championships

The north end of Franklin Field: a familiar sight to Penn Relay attendees


I was fortunate to gather with the coaches and Friday's performers at the hotel in the morning before the competition commenced. Among the many words of encouragement from their mentors, two coaching points stayed with me and are worth sharing. Here are the paraphrased versions. The first point: "No matter if your race is set up for you to shine or not, regardless of whether or not a particular event will feature you, still -- when you get out there on the track -- run the best race you are capable of running today."

Georgetown team members gathered with coaches high in the grandstands to cheer on fellow Hoyas

Former Hoya miler Kevin Byrne '81 (left) came to watch with his clan

The second point also hit home: "Throughout the year, the coaches spend a good amount of time on the road making visits and talking with recruits. Remember, when you walk into that stadium today, you will be wearing the Hoya colors. Thousands of high school competitors will be looking at you, not at us coaches. They will be assessing our school and program in the process. Carry yourself accordingly and represent Georgetown well!"

Former distance runner Peter Sherry '92 coached his Herndon High team to a third place finish in the scholastic distance medley Championship of America

Erin Henry `06 with her high school coach & former GU football captain Paul White '72

To read how the Hoyas fared at the Penn Relays this year, click here for Wednesday results; Thursday results; Friday results; Saturday results.

Steeplechaser Lise Ogrodnick with father Greg

GU parent and alum Rich Hluchan '71 of south Jersey, shared a moment with a Hoya wannabe bulldog at the Friday reception

Track alums Ed Grant '79 and Jim DeRienzo '80 with Hoya host Denise Furey '78



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Schedules

August 9
4:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Shaw Field
August 11
7:00 PM
Maryland
College Park, Md.
August 12
7:00 PM
Navy
Annapolis, Md.
August 15
7:00 PM
VCU
Richmond, Va.
August 18
4:00 PM
West Virginia
Shaw Field
August 19
1:00 PM
Virginia
Shaw Field
August 19
12:00 PM
Towson
Towson, Md.
August 20
1:00 PM
George Washington
Shaw Field
August 24
7:00 PM
Delaware
Newark, Del.
August 25
5:00 PM
American
Washington, D.C.
August 25
2:00 PM
Davidson
Cooper Field
August 27
1:00 PM
Loyola Maryland
Shaw Field
August 27
1:00 PM
Appalachian State
Cooper Field
August 28
1:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Shaw Field
September 1
4:00 PM
Cal Poly
Shaw Field
September 1
8:00 PM
Stanford
Palo Alto, Calif.
September 1
2:00 PM
Rider
Cooper Field
September 3
4:00 PM
San Jose State
San Jose, Calif.
September 3
1:00 PM
Lock Haven
Cooper Field
September 4
12:00 PM
UCLA
Shaw Field
September 8
4:00 PM
Saint Francis PA
Shaw Field
September 8
7:00 PM
UMass-Lowell
Lowell, Mass.
September 9
TBA
Campbell
Buies Creek, N.C.
September 9
7:00 PM
UConn
Storrs, Conn.
September 10
1:00 PM
Rutgers
Shaw Field
September 10
12:00 PM
Holy Cross
Worcester, Mass.
September 15
2:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Cooper Field
September 16
TBA
Marist
Cooper Field
September 16
7:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
September 17
1:00 PM
Towson
Baltimore, Md.
September 17
12:00 PM
Towson
Towson, Md.
September 18
All Day
The Memphis Intercollegiate Memphis
Colonial Country Club - Memphis, Tenn.
September 19
All Day
The Memphis Intercollegiate Memphis
Colonial Country Club - Memphis, Tenn.
September 20
4:00 PM
Stony Brook
Shaw Field