FOR MOST people, yesterday was just another Monday.

But for the athletic community at Penn, it was an emotional day, eliciting admiration, gratitude, respect, and a bit of sadness as longtime men's track and field coach Charlie Powell announced his retirement.

Robin Martin, Powell's assistant, will serve on an interim basis until a successor is found.

Powell said in a statement that he was leaving to "reduce the stress in my life for health reasons."

Over the years, he has coached hundreds of champions. And yet, he thinks of himself as the biggest winner.

"For almost 3 full decades I have had the honor and pleasure of being around some of the most outstanding young men imaginable while here at Penn," Powell said in a statement. "I have tried, in some small way, to assist every one of them on their road to outstanding achievement and great accomplishments in life. I must admit, I loved every minute of my 29 years here, and I will always call Penn and this program my own and my home."

Powell is in his 25th season as head coach. Before that, he was an assistant and served as head cross country coach.

"The pride, the camaraderie, the competitive fire, the work ethic, and the efforts put out on a daily basis by the men in this program have always left me in awe," he said. "It has always meant something special to be part of Penn track and field, and I only hope that I did my part during my time at the helm to keep the traditions alive and well."

Powell need not worry about his legacy.

He has coached at least one Heptagonal Games champion each year since 1989, and the Quakers have won five Heptagonal titles during his tenure. And, in 2001-02 he was selected as the Mondo Mid-Atlantic Coach of the years by the United States Track Coaches Association.

He also has been associated with the Penn Relays since 1984.

In track parlance, he's had a long run, and it's only fitting that, as he hits the finish line, he gets the last word.

"Thank you all," he said. "It's been a great journey."