Boys and girls track sprint to victory at Penn Relays


Yefei Yao

Senior captain Megan Mazzini passes the baton to senior captain Lucy Hurt during the 4×400 meter relays at the 2018 Penn Relays.

Aidan Spizz and Josh Rosen

The first Penn Relay Carnival was held on April 21, 1895 at Franklin Field. Approximately 5,000 people attended the event which consisted of nine relay races.  Each race featured two teams and was attended by both public high schools and prep schools.  The Penn Relay is the oldest and largest track and field event in the United States.  In 2012, 116 events were held. There were more athletes at the Penn Relays than any other meet in the world.  Every year more than 15,000 athletes from high schools, colleges, and track clubs all throughout North America attend.  Many high school athletes get scouted by colleges at this event.  One notable team from Jamaica ran more 300 events over five days. 

“It’s a lot of fun competing in such a big meet because we get to race teams from all over the country, and there was even a team from Jamaica in our heat,” said senior Lucy Hurt.  “The huge stadium and crowd makes racing at Penn exciting, and we run fast times whenever we go.” 

This event has also been credited with increasing the popularity of track and field. Every year the Penn Relay is held during the last week of April and ending on Saturday of that week. Attendance reaches around 100,000 over the final three days, and usually there are more than 50,000 on the final Saturday. 

Because the Penn Relays are highly  competitive, many strict rules have been put in place.  First, the track is a standard three-eighths inch thickness for all running and jumping surfaces.  Also, only quarter-inch spikes are allowed, and all starting blocks are provided by the University of Pennsylvania.  In order to qualify for this prestigious race, an individual or team must break a certain time in a specific event.  For guys, a 4x400m team must break the time of 3:32.0 and a 4x100m team must break 43.00.  For girls, the 4x400m must break a time of 4:00.0 and for the 4x100m  it is necessary to break the 49.00 second mark.  These races consist of four athletes running either 400m or 100m.  This year for Schreiber, both the girls and boys team had runners for the 4x400m and the 4x100m.

The event took place from April 26-28.  In the boys 4×400, Port came in sixth place with a time of 3:26:33.  Seniors Eli Cruise, Tommy Kaprowicz, Ryan Stevens, and Alexander Zsikla, competed in this event.  Kaprowicz had the fastest time with 51:43, while the following memebers finished with (51:48),  (51:45), and (51:99).  In Schreiber’s second race, the boys 4x100m, the team consisted of seniors Kitman Lam, Kaprowicz, Stevens, and sophomore Taiki Hirooka.  Overall, the team ran a 44:31, coming in 32nd place in their heat.  On the girls side, the 4×400 team came in first overall, running a 4:01:20. On the team were seniors Megan Bazzini and Lucy Hurt, and juniors Leah Taylor and Ava Gellis.  Gellis ran the fastest time with a 58.80, Hurt with a 58.96, Bazzini a 1:00.33, and Taylor ran a 1:03.13.  The second race from the girls team was the 4x100m.  This team consisted of senior Saige Gitlin, Bazzini, Gellis and sophomore Grace Livio.  The girls finished in 60th place, with a time of 52:23.

Being at the Penn Relays is a great experience for all participants.  For seniors, Stevens and Hurt it was filled with bittersweet moments, as they ran their last races at the track.

“The atmosphere at the UPenn track is crazy,” said Stevens.  “The seats are filled and there is so much noise that it gives you an adrenaline rush for your race.” 

Being experienced at Penn Relays, Stevens gave advice to younger racers. 

“As we were walking to the start line I told our sophomore sprinter Taiki Hirooka to really soak it in because it’s a great experience,” said Stevens.

“It’s bittersweet competing in one of my last high school races, because of the four years of memories that I have with all my teammates,” said Hurt. 

“It wasn’t one of my best races so I wasn’t content with it and want to improve going into divisions and counties.  It was also a little sad because it was my last time going there,” said Stevens.

The sophomores and juniors who competed have a lot to look forward to, and hopefully will compete at many more Penn Relay events in the future. As this year’s senior class prepares to graduate, they leave behind a legacy, and  hope to help the younger runners by setting an example.

“My advice to the team next year would be to work harder than you ever thought you could, because at the end of the day the guy who works the hardest in practice is the guy who’s gonna win the race,” said Stevens.

Before divisions, on Wednesday, May  16, the team had high hopes. 

“We want to run hard, have fun, enjoy the sport and most of all win.  Adversity causes some people to break,” said junior Kushal Upadhyay. “On Port Washington track, it causes us to break records.” 

This mentality leads to success and top finishes in important races. 

Both teams performed exceptionally well at divisionals.  In the 100m, Kaprowicz came in second place running a 11.34.  Behind him was Hirooka running a 11.68.  In the 200m, Kaprowicz came in first and Stevens behind him in second. In the 800m, senior Patrick Barry had a third place finish running an impressive 2:07.64.  In the field events, the team was also very successful.  High jumper junior Donovan McCurty came in third place jumping 5’ 4”.  In the long jump the boys took all top three spots, with junior Jacob Moy in first, sophomore Chris Bradbury in second, and junior Reggie Bharath in third.  For the girls, Gellis, came in first in the 100 meter with time of 13 seconds, while Gitlin came in first place for the 100m high hurdles with a 17.27 seconds time.  Livio came in third place with a time of 13.57 seconds for the 100m, while senior Jamie Littman came in third with a time of 18.82 seconds in the 100 high hurdles.  However, the conditions were not very good.  

“The conditions were really bad and everyone on our team jumped a foot less than usual,” said freshman Phoebe Christake.

However, her sister, senior Celia Christake, still managed to get second place by jumping 15 feet and 6.5 inches.  Overall, both squads had many successes.

“We were definitely put to the test at Divisions last Tuesday, since the track was soaking wet due to the rain,” said freshman Noah Loewy.  “Overall, the team did great, and everyone put on an incredible performance.  In the end, we couldn’t get the win, but we were still able to finish in second behind an older and more experienced East Meadow team.  [The highlight] was definitely the relays.  We finished second in the 4x800m, along with winning the 4x400m and the 4x100m, due to a ridiculous kick by senior sprinter Tommy Kaprowicz.  We are taking it one meet at a time, and are hoping to get past counties, and potentially make it to the state championship.”

Overall, both the girls and boys track teams have had impressive seasons and they look to continue their success.  The seniors hope to cement their legacies as Schreiber track athletes, while the younger athletes continue to contribute to the team’s efforts to make it to states.