Penn's Maalik Reynolds thrilled the home crowd at Franklin Field last year by winning the Penn Relays high jump to highlight a successful freshman season.
Now Reynolds is aiming for the next level by working on his technique and improving his body while casting an eye to a repeat victory next week and beyond - possibly to the U.S. Olympic trials.
"To make an Olympic team, you have to be great and then you have to be lucky," interim Penn head coach Robin Martin said Wednesday at a media luncheon. "Maalik has everything it takes to be great. Maybe this - 2012 - might be early for him, but it's not a reach.
"He has the ability to jump at the level that it takes to make that team. I've never seen him back down from a challenge. So as the moment increases, his drive, his capacity to compete, and his will have increased as well."
Reynolds jumped 7 feet, 3 1/4 inches to win last year's carnival. He upped his personal best to 7-3 3/4, a school record, at the Millrose Games in February, and earned all-American status in the NCAA indoor championships.
The "A" standard for the Olympic trials is 7-5 3/4, with a "B" standard of 7-2 1/2.
Martin said Reynolds has become more of a student of the sport, making more technical advances, watching film, and putting in repetitive tasks in practice such as hitting the approach just right.
"When he doesn't perform as well as he'd like, it really affects him," Martin said. "To just kind of steer that angst into a pattern of training, I think, has really taken him to the next level."
The 118th carnival is scheduled to begin in earnest next Thursday and run through April 28, the day of the high jump and many other finals.
Around the track. The Villanova women's team, anchored by multiple all-American and two-time NCAA cross-country champion Sheila Reid, likely will compete in all three distance relays - distance medley, 4x1500 meters, and 4x800. Reid, a fifth-year senior, is expected to anchor all three in her bid for her first career Penn Relays watch. . . . The Villanova men are entered in those three relays, but head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said he may decide to run two. One is the distance medley, in which the Wildcats are defending champions and have two runners back from that team - Brian Tetreault (Cinnaminson) and Samuel Ellison (Upper Dublin). . . . Penn Relays director Dave Johnson said the runners for the six USA vs. the World relays set for April 28 probably will not be announced until late next week.