PHILADELPHIA – Arkansas returns to the Penn Relays Carnival this weekend as the prestigious meet will be held for the first time since 2019 due to covid. Festivities for the 126th running of the Penn Relays will include a Wall of Fame induction on Saturday that includes Razorback alum Graham Hood.
The relay events Arkansas is scheduled to compete in this weekend include the 4 x 100, 4 x 400, 4 x 800, and distance medley relay. In addition, the Razorbacks have individuals entered in the 100m, 110m hurdles, 3,000m steeplechase, high jump, pole vault, long jump, and hammer.
“For us, we haven’t been there in quite a while, so it felt like this would be the time to go back,” said Arkansas men’s head coach Chris Bucknam. “We’re taking a majority of our team and will run in some relays as well as individual events. We feel like we can get that accomplished there since the weather looks pretty good.”
Arkansas alums scheduled to compete on Saturday include Omar McLeod in the Olympic Development 110m hurdles as well as Hunter Woodhall in the Olympic Development 600m.
Hood, part of the 2020 induction class, will become the second Arkansas Razorback individual in the Penn Relays Wall of Fame, joining Joe Falcon, who was inducted in 2000.
A pair of Razorback relays in the Wall of Fame include the 1985 4 x 1500 relay squad of Keith Iovine, Gary Taylor, David Swain, and Paul Donovan as well as the 1989 distance medley relay crew of Reuben Reina, Charles Williams, Robert Bradley, and Falcon.
Hood totaled seven collegiate relay victories for the University of Arkansas. He is the only male athlete ever to be on four winning distance medley relays teams and anchored the 1994 4×1500 to the second-fastest time ever.
“The relay legacy at Penn is a combination of unbelievable memories and great traditions,” stated Bucknam. “It’s interesting to talk with Graham and other athletes who have had that experience of the Penn Relays back in the day.
“There are certain events in all sports that are unbelievably memorable. For the athletes John McDonnell had when he was going to the Penn Relays, it was the hottest meet in the country. They won national championships, but if you asked them what their favorite meet was, they would probably say Penn. It was that big of an event.”
Thursday’s action will include Ruben Banks (3 p.m.) and Ben Ryer (4:30 p.m.) competing in separate sections of the hammer throw. Evening events will have Emmanuel Cheboson and Andrew Kibet racing in their first steeplechase (7:25 p.m.) of the season while Carter Persyn competes in the event for the third time this season.
Friday will have prelims for Arkansas in the 4×100 relay (1:35 p.m.) and 4×400 (3:40 p.m.) as well as the 100m and 110m hurdles (3:10 p.m.).
The sprint relay crew includes Roman Turner, Connor Washington, Phillip Lemonious, and Tre’Bien Gilbert. Turner will also race in the 100m while Lemonious, Gilbert, Matthew Lewis-Banks, and Brevin Sims contest the 110m hurdles. The college division of the pole vault (3 p.m.) includes Rhett Nelson.
The distance medley relay final will be run at 2 p.m. on Friday with Arkansas among a field of 15 schools which includes Wisconsin, Ole Miss, Indiana, North Carolina, Villanova, Georgetown, Virginia, and Penn State.
Of the 43 relay titles claimed by the Razorbacks at the Penn Relays, 15 of those victories have occurred in the distance medley relay.
“Our distance medley relay team is the one relay that we are loading up on,” noted Bucknam. “Penn Relays is an iconic event that so many of our alums have had incredible memories. We’re going to go back there and see if we can make some this weekend with a couple of good races and get some things accomplished.”
Championship finals on Saturday include John Baker and Ryan Brown in the long jump (noon), Etamar Bhastekar in the pole vault (noon), and the high jump (2:30 p.m.) pair of Tomas Ferrari and Christian Matamoros.
On the track, finals will be held in the 110m hurdles (2:15 p.m.) and 100m (2:26 p.m.).
Championship of America relay finals held on Saturday include the 4 x 100 (1:05 p.m.), 4 x 800 (3:02 p.m.), and 4 x 400 (3:35 p.m.).