Bishop O’Connell High School had four relay teams qualify for the 126th running of the Penn Relays, held at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa. on April 28-30, 2022. The event is considered the oldest and largest track meet in the United States, attracting high school, college and elite runners from across the country and internationally, as well.
“The Penn Relays represent the highest level of high school track and field competition,” said Coach Jim Connor, who has his own memories of participating in the Penn Relays as a high school athlete. “All four of our teams rose to the occasion and had their best times of the year."
The all-junior O’Connell girls 4x100m team of Samantha Rough, Carolina Rosson, Chantal Siodlarz, and Chayse Raymond won their heat on Thursday in a time of 51.19 and finished 7th out of 100 schools in their division. They were followed by the girls 4x400m team, which included senior Anna Chiappetta, juniors Megan Heuschel and Carolina Rosson, and freshman Danielle Rodriguez, running their best race of the year.
On Friday, the all-senior boys 4x100m team of Job Grant, Duarte Alves, Mori Langshaw and Jayden Crosby ran a very fast 43.65, finishing 60th out of 477 teams that qualified for the event. This was followed by the boys 4x400m team of seniors Job Grant and Jayden Crosby, along with juniors Nick O’Donnell and Cameron Lee, who finished with a time of 3:26.56, that included an exceptional 50.24 leg by Grant.
“Although it lasted for about three minutes and 26 seconds, our team's actual 4x400m relay race was my favorite part of the trip,” said O’Donnell. “The runners were all fast, the crowd was cheering loudly, and the whole thing felt like I was in the Olympics in some way.”
For some of the O’Connell athletes, there was a personal connection that added to the excitement. Grant had heard stories from relatives on his father’s side of the family, who had represented Jamaica at the Penn Relays before. “They talked about how electric the stadium is and the feeling of being on the track,” he added. “The experience was breathtaking. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity and I hope I can compete again one day in the future.”
Cameron Lee also had a special connection to the event. His grandfather ran the same 4x400m high school event in 1946, and won a watch. “It was special moment for me to run on such a big stage and to experience what my grandfather did more than 75 years earlier,” said Lee. “The atmosphere is unmatched!”
The O’Connell track and field team continues preparing for the WCAC and State Championships which take place in May. In addition, several runners qualified for nationals, including the 4x400 boys team, as well as junior Chayse Raymond (100m dash) and sophomore Molly Weithman (2-mile run).
PHOTO – Bishop O’Connell athletes (in white, bottom right) line up among top athletes from around the country in preparation for the high school 4x400 m race at the 2022 Penn Relays.