While most of the Eagles’ attention on Saturday was focused on the late rounds of the NFL draft, another of the Birds’ new players was flying down the track at Franklin Field.
Devon Allen, whom the Eagles signed as a free agent wide receiver in early April, won in the Penn Relays’ Olympic Development men’s 110-meter hurdles competition with a time of 13.11 seconds — breaking a meet record that stood since 1998, and setting a new best time in the world this year. He beat his friend and rival, Jamaica’s Omar McLeod, by just 0.11 seconds.
“I think today was awesome, probably the best atmosphere I’ve been to in track and field outside maybe an Olympic final,” Allen said after his win, which he celebrated on the track by pumping up the crowd.
“This is kind of like my coming out party to Philadelphia,” he said. “I went to the Sixers game on Monday, the playoff game, and I saw firsthand the swings of the fans. So if I can get in their good graces to start, that’ll be good for my career for sure.”
Penn javelin star wins title
Marc Minichello, who finished fourth in the U.S. Olympic trials last year, delivered a Relays title for the home team with a winning javelin throw of 77.42 meters (254 feet).
It’s the second straight Relays in which Penn has won a title, after the women’s Distance Medley Relay team’s triumph in 2019. And it’s Penn’s first men’s javelin title on home turf since Brian Chaput’s back-to-back wins in 2003 and ‘04.
Minichello, a senior from Exeter, Pa., in Wyoming County, said he has gotten to know Chaput some since the Olympic trials.
“He was very complimentary of what’s to come, and being a part of the school and the history that is Penn throws,” Minichello said. “He’s been a great person to talk to whenever I’ve had the chance.”
Penn State makes it two
A day after winning the college women’s sprint medley relay title, Penn State lifted a second Relays wheel by winning the 4x800.
After Radnor’s Keara Seasholtz staked Virginia to a first-leg lead, Penn State’s Rachel Gearing took over in the second leg and the Nittany Lions led the rest of the way. But Ohio State kept it close throughout. The margin at the finish was just 8:24.49 to 8:25.04, as Penn State anchor Victoria Tachinski held off Buckeyes counterpart Aziza Ayoub.
“It was definitely tough the whole time — I was just thinking about her coming to catch me, and I just knew I didn’t want that to happen,” Tachinski said. “So I fought [with] every ounce of my body in that race.”
Tachinski and Gearing ran in both title wins. Gearing was the 4x8 opener and ran the 400 in the sprint medley relay, and Tachinski was the anchor each time.
More on the track
There were 10 other Championship of America relay races on Saturday, from sprints to distances and colleges to high schools. Here’s a look at the winners.
College women’s 4x1500: Arkansas in 16:53.87, breaking the Relays and college record of 17:08.34 held by Tennessee since 2009.
College men’s 4xMile: Texas in 16:17.45. Anchor Crayton Carrozza topped a seven-runner pack at the finish line, after overtaking teams including Georgetown and Villanova with a 54-second final lap.
College men’s 4x100: Houston in 39.45, resuming the Cougars’ dominance after they won in 2019 and 2018. Their coaching staff is led by two track legends with Philly-area ties, Leroy Burrell and Carl Lewis.
College women’s 4x100: South Carolina in 43.72.
College women’s 4x400: South Carolina in 3:26.53.
College men’s 4x400: Ohio State in 3:03.91, just 0.04 seconds ahead of Houston.
College men’s 4x800: Mississippi in 7:13.71, giving the Rebels two titles for the weekend after winning the men’s Distance Medley Relay on Friday.
High school boys’ 4x100: Camperdown of Jamaica in 40.13.
High school boys’ 4x400: Kingston College of Jamaica in 3:09.52.
High school boys’ 4x800: Jamaica College of Jamaica in 7:28.38, the third-best time in Relays history.
More on the field
— Penn alum Ashley Anumba, now a graduate transfer at Virginia, won the college women’s discus title. In her first year at Virginia’s law school, Anumba topped a 10-woman field with a best throw of 57.53 meters (188 feet, 9 inches). She might have competed at the Olympics last summer for Nigeria if not for the pandemic, and will try to make it again in 2024.
— Rutgers won titles in the women’s pole vault and men’s long jump. In the pole vault, freshman Chloe Timberg from Doylestown and Central Bucks West High went up 4.13 meters (13 feet, 6 ½ inches). In the long jump, A’Nan Bridgett topped the field with a jump of 7.97 meters (26 feet, 1 ¾ inches), and fellow Scarlet Knight Sincere Robinson was second at 7.63 meters (25 feet, ½ inch).
— The men’s masters 80-and-up 100m run was a fan favorite, as always. It was won by Bob Williamson, age 84, of northern Virginia’s Potomac Valley Track Club in 17.33 seconds. Josh Buch, an 85-year-old La Salle professor whom The Inquirer profiled before the Relays, finished in 21.33. The biggest cheers were for 100-year-old Lester Wright of Long Branch, N.J., who crossed the line in 26.34.
— Ohio State’s Anavia Battle won two titles in just under an hour: the college women’s 100m in 11.19 seconds, then the Olympic Development women’s 300m in 36.70.