By Cam Smith ’21
The Providence College Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Teams produced some magnificent results last week while participating in two meets. On Thursday, the teams traveled to the University of Pennsylvania to take part in the 125th running of the Penn Relays. The Relays are touted as the world’s first and most widely recognized annual relay event, each year bringing in crowds of up to 100,000 people. Top athletes from around the country and around the world compete in the event that pre-dates even the NCAA.
The highlight of the meet for the Friars was undoubtedly the performance of Brianna Ilarda ’19RS. Competing in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, Ilarda jumped out to an early lead and simply refused to relinquish her top spot. With five laps to go, the redshirt senior pulled away even further, leaving her competition struggling to keep pace as she cruised to a record setting victory. Indeed, Ilarda’s time of 9:55.43 was not only a personal best, but also a Penn Relays record, as she surpassed the previous time by over a second. This was Ilarda’s third win in the event in the last four years.
Ilarda was not the only PC representative to impress on Thursday, as three other Friars finished in the top 15 in their respective events. In the women’s 5,000 meters, Abbey Wheeler ’20 and Regan Rome GR each ran fantastic races, proving they belonged alongside the top competition in the country. Wheeler and Rome ran most of the race in the lead pack, and as the race went on, both were part of the top five that began to pull away from the other runners.
Eventually, with one mile left, Wheeler and two other runners again pulled away and Wheeler was able to obtain sole possession of the lead. The three would remain neck and neck in the last mile, and Wheeler would end up finishing third with a remarkable time of 16:07.01, just seconds off the pace of the first-place finisher. Rome, too, would post a tremendous time of 16:33.97, good enough for the eighth overall spot in a race that consisted of 63 top-notch participants. In the past, Wheeler’s time has qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round, producing optimism that she’ll be able to represent the Friars on the biggest stage.
Running in the top heat of the men’s 5,000 meters, Marcelo Rocha ’21 finished 13th in a race that a whopping 102 participants competed in. Rocha ran a very steady event, and his impressive time of 14:17.19 was only a mere 15 seconds behind the winner. The time was also a personal record for Rocha, who has been a pivotal part of the men’s squad all year long.
Returning home to Providence, the Friars made a quick journey over to Brown University, where they competed in the Brown Springtime Invitational against several local institutions such as the University of Rhode Island, Northeastern University, and the University of Connecticut. Some notable results on the men’s side, include Jack Carleo ’21 taking home the top prize in the 800 meters with a time of 1.53.03 and Angus White ’21 finishing just a tenth of a second behind the winner of the 1,500 meters. Over on the women’s side Emma Fink ’22 placed second in the high jump with a mark of 1.55 meters while Megan Stenberg ’21 also secured a second-place finish in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 15.76.
The Friars will now enjoy a well-deserved week off before turning their sights to the Big East Championships, set to take place on May 10 and 11 at Icahn Stadium in New York City.