Coming down the final stretch toward the postseason, the Longhorns head to Franklin Field in Philadelphia. With history on its side, a crowd big enough to fit in the Colosseum and a young, hungry team, Texas could not ask for a more perfect tune-up meet.
The Penn Relays, hosted at the University of Pennsylvania, is America’s largest and oldest track meet and typically brings in more than 100,000 people during the three days, with more than 50,000 people on the last day. Last year, 54,310 people were said to have been in attendance on the last day to watch Usain Bolt, according to The Seattle Times. That crowd was the biggest crowd in the history of the meet.
The Longhorns should expect nothing but the best competition from this year’s meet. Every year, more than 20,000 competitors from high schools and colleges all over the world head to Philly to compete in the event. In all, more than 60 countries will be represented.
The Penn Relays’ competition has historically brought the best out of Texas, dating back to 2006, when the Longhorn’s distance-medley relay team made history by running a school-record time of 9 minutes, 33.10 seconds to claim UT’s first ever victory in the event.
The next year, UT won the distance-medley relay for the second consecutive time. The relay team recorded a time of 9:29.60, shattering the 2006 history-making mark. Although these two were impressive, 2008 was the year of ultimate history making.
Texas became the fifth school in the history of the Penn Relays and the first since 1999 to complete the distance triple, winning the distance-medley relay — for the third consecutive year — as well as the 6,400-meter relay and 3,200-meter relay.
The best relay teams from around the world will be in the same building this week as they prepare for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea this August. Penn Relays participants have won gold medals in every modern summer Olympic games except the 1980 Moscow games, which the United States boycotted.
The Longhorns, although they jumped to No. 6 in the most recent U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association computer rankings, will be in for a challenge in their last meet before the Big 12 Outdoor Championship in Norman, Okla.