Even they had to admit it.
"Columbia doesn't win much of anything," said Liam Boylan-Pett.
But yesterday the Lions won and, boy, did they do it in style.
Boylan-Pett ran a spirited final leg in the college 4x800-meter relay as Columbia surprised the star-laden field at the Penn Relays, winning with a time of 7 minutes, 22.64 seconds, a tenth of a second ahead of Michigan.
It was the Lions' first win in a relay event at Penn since 1938, their first in the 4x800 since 1933, and the first for an Ivy League school since 1974, when Penn won the shuttle hurdles.
Fittingly, the foursome of Mike Mark, Jonah Rathbun, Erisson Hurtault and Boylan-Pett circled Franklin Field with a jubilant victory lap that delighted the crowd of 46,363.
"I was milking it as long as I could," said Boylan-Pett, who clipped Michigan's Andrew Ellerton with a 1:49.7 split.
"We've been talking about it for a whole year," said Rathbun. "I don't think we even took ourselves that seriously."
Need more like Penn. Shawn Crawford isn't afraid to say what's on his mind, and he has a suggestion for those who look to the Penn Relays as the signature event in U.S. track and field:
Develop more meets just like, or similar to, the carnival.
"We can all look forward to the Penn Relays every year, but we need to build more meets and have them catch on for people to run in and people to see on TV," said Crawford, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist at 200 meters. "I think that is going to promote the sport."
Back on familiar turf. Courtney Jaworski was preparing himself for a return to his alma mater to run in the Olympic Development mile when he got a phone call asking him to run the 800-meter leg for the World All-Stars in the USA vs. the World distance medley relay.
So Jaworski, a former Penn star and an American who lives in Tacoma, Wash., ran with two men from Kenya and one from Trinidad. That seemed strange, but it was even stranger when he went up against former Penn teammate Sam Burley, running for USA Blue, on his leg.
But the race ended well for Jaworski. His team won.
Jaworski, an all-American and a three-time heptagonal champ at 800 meters, earned the Class of 1915 Award last year, the highest honor given to a male athlete at Penn.
O.D. winners. Churandy Martina, a former Texas-El Paso runner from the Netherlands Antilles, tied a 24-year-old carnival record by winning the Olympic Development men's 100-meter dash in 10.09. Olympic gold-medalist Carl Lewis set the mark in 1983.
Jason Jabaut, who was a member of the Villanova team that won the 2001 men's distance medley relay at the carnival, took the Olympic Development mile in 4:02.77.
Camden falters. In his heart, Sherman Goree believes Camden should have qualified for the high school boys' 4x400 Championship of America.
"It was just that I got hurt on the first leg," the Panthers senior said of running in the South Jersey large-schools heat. "I got a pinched nerve, and I got spiked up."
Camden went on to finish second in that heat in 3:20.35. The Panthers did qualify for the Philadelphia Area consolation race. And on this day, Camden was indeed the area's best.
The quartet of Charles Waugh, Casey Pinckney, Terry Alston and Goree won with a season-best time of 3:18.74. Winslow Township was second at 3:19.74, and Neshaminy finished third at 3:21.05.
Move over, Jamaica. The Franklin Field fans chanted "USA" for Long Beach Poly (Calif.) after the high school boys' 4x400 Championship of America race.
The Jackrabbits ended Jamaica's two-year reign in the event at the Penn Relays. Poly's quartet of Evant Orange, Isaiah Green, Joey Hughes and Bryshon Nellum ran a winning time of 3:09.89. It was the second fastest high school boys' time in Penn Relays history.
Yohan the great. Heading into the relays, St. Jago's Yahon Blake was recognized as one of the high school athletes to watch. The 17-year-old didn't disappoint. Blake was named the Penn Relays high school boys' athlete for relay events.
The Jamaican junior record holder at 100 meters ran a blistering anchor leg as St. Jago shattered the 4x100 meet record with a Championship of America winning time of 39.96. Blake also ran a 45.4 anchor leg on St. Jago's second-place 4x400.
No upset. Louisiana State's Jessica Ohanaja upset what could have been the feel-good story of the carnival. In the college women's 100 hurdles, she beat teammate Nickiesha Wilson, 13.09 to 13.18. Virginia Tech freshman Kristi Castlin, who ran the second-best qualifying time, finished seventh in 13.70.
Watch collection. North Carolina's Justin Ryncavage added to his already hefty collection of gold watches by winning the college men's javelin throw with a heave of 231 feet, 1 inch. The senior won last year as a Tar Heel and twice in high school while at Coughlin High in Wilkes-Barre.
Lincoln's big win. Division III Lincoln University knocked off larger schools in the men's 4x200. The Lions foursome of Lance Wigfall, Jermaine Morris, Wayne Davis and Randy Dawkins took the IC4A race in 1:25.32, beating Morgan State, North Carolina-Wilmington, Delaware State, Virginia and Penn State.