Lessons Learned at Penn Relays


Don Rich

UDII Byron Simmons leading the competition at Penn Relays. He handed the baton off in third running 1 minutes and 58 seconds.

Othman Muhammad, Assistant Sports Editor

The Gray Bee track team’s hard work allowed them to qualify and run in three events at the “Mecca” of Outdoor Track and Field, Penn Relays Carnival on April 28-30. Despite not placing, however, the team got the experience to compete with the best runners in the nation.

The 4×400-meter relay team, consisting of UDII Byron Simmons, senior Stephen Valvano, UDI Kaylan Depas, and senior Magnum Phelps, ran in the Prep division.

Byron got the job done; he got out fast and separated himself from the chase pack. When he handed the baton off, Stephen extended the lead and put the team in a great position. Kaylan ran an impressive third leg, but allowed the competition to get back into the race. With 200m left in the race, Magnum attempted to separate himself from the field, but got outkicked at the line by two runners. The team placed third running 3 minutes and 25 seconds.

“Now the team’s plan is to build off that performance,” Byron said. “We will see what we need to work on and how we will improve our time come Nationals.”

After an impressive performance at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March, the 4x800m ran 7:57, which ranks them fifth in New Jersey. Byron split a 1:58 and handed the baton off to senior Scott Bamberg in third. Scott ran an outdoor personal best, splitting 1:59, as he passed the baton off to freshman Ronald Kigen in fifth place. Ronald closed in a 2:01, and from there Stephen ran a 1:58 anchoring the team to sixth place.

“This was not our best performance all around, but we truly know what we are capable of,” Scott said. “We plan to just keep moving forward and put this performance behind us.”

Luck was not on the side of the track team’s 4x100m relay team consisting of senior Khalil Fleming, senior Joshua Denis, Magnum and Kaylan. Going around the curve Kaylan put the team in a good position; he handed the baton off to Khalil. As Khalil was approaching Joshua, there was a difficulty exchanging the baton. Joshua never received the baton and the team did not finish the race.

Sprint Coach Sharon Allen reflected on the team’s overall experience saying, “Lesson learned, hit taken… from here we fight without fear and with confidence.”

It was not only SBP’s youth getting in on the fun at Penn Relays; Michael McDonnell’ 53 took fourth running a 20.42 in the Masters Mixed 100m Dash 80 and Older.