A week after lining up against a number of Division I programs at Morgan State University in Baltimore, the No. 9-ranked Rowan women’s track and field team now takes to an even bigger stage.
Beginning today, members of Rowan join the largest group of competitors in the world at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field in Philadelphia for the 122nd annual Penn Relays, America’s oldest track and field event.
The prestigious meet, which spans Tuesday, April 26, to Saturday, April 30, brings in participants of all levels from all over the globe with huge crowd draws, combining for totals of tens of thousands of people.
It is arguably one of the most daunting atmospheres for a track and field athlete. Rowan head coach Derick “Ringo” Adamson is not worried about his squad, especially given what they have already faced thus far in the season. Being in the limelight will be a positive, according to Adamson.
“These girls, they will not step out on that track and embarrass themselves, trust me. They are not going for that,” he said. “Really, with this group of kids, from the beginning, they’ve been running into big time competition anyway. I never look for little, low-key meets because I don’t think that could help them.”
A majority of the Profs locked in for the Penn Relays have been there before. One member of that group, sophomore Brianna Angellella, recognizes what it means to compete there.
“We just want to be the best we can out there,” Angellella said. “It’s an honor [to be there]. Everyone knows what Penn Relays is; that we’re running in it, it’s an accomplishment.”
Adamson is hoping for some top performances the next few days coming off what he said was not his team’s best in the Morgan State Legacy Meet.
The brown and gold’s slate starts this morning at 10 a.m. with junior Amanda Brown in the 400-meter hurdles. From there, the Profs’ 4×100-meter relay team, currently holding the fourth-best time in the nation of 47.21 seconds, will gear up around 1:10 p.m.
The coach added that due to its strength, the 4×400 relay team is entered in the Mid-Atlantic Conference race rather than the usual Collegiate Track Conference race from past years. Rowan is the only DIII program in the MAC section.
“I asked the meet director why we moved. It all goes back to the times we’ve been running,” Adamson said. “He goes, ‘You guys are good enough to compete here.’ I take that with respect.”
On Friday, the team competes in the shuttle hurdles and the 4×200-meter relay.
Each event offers the opportunity to move onto the championship finals on Saturday. Even if the team does not qualify in any event for the final day, Rowan still has the 4×800 Championship of America Invitational at 4:10 p.m.
“We’re not in any easy races,” Adamson said.
Last season, the Profs set a university record in the 4×800 with a time of 9:06.40.
“That was impressive. Ridiculously fast what they did,” Adamson said. “We had some beasts out there, we have some now.”
In other action this weekend, the team will send some athletes to The College of New Jersey for the two-day Lions’ Invitational. The Profs’ throwers compete on Friday, April 29, then runners take their marks the following day in the annual meet.
With the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championships up next, Rowan has even more riding on this week. Successful stints would be a big confidence boost going into the conference final at Stockton University.
“I get my final tune-up in a way, going into the NJAC,” Adamson said. “That’s another two-day hustle.”
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