By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most people know the Penn Relays (or Carnival) as the oldest and largest track and field meet in the United States, but for most athletes, including the Penn Staters that will be competing their this week, it's the most fun meet to compete at.
Junior high jumper Megan McCloskey has been competing at the Penn Relays for twelve years now, starting when she was in fourth grade. Competing at this widely attended track meet has made it one of her favorites to go to.
"I think it's just such a special meet because it's one of the only times in the year that a track meet turns into a carnival as they say," said McCloskey. "It's not often that you can fill the stands to watch a track meet, which is exciting."
McCloskey has made many memories over the past decade competing at this meet, but hopes that this year's meet with add a new memory of winning another Penn Relays medal or even a Penn Relays gold watch. When winning a college individual event at the Carnival, athletes receive a gold watch rather than a gold medal.
Junior sprinter Xavier Smith was familiar with the Penn Relays before competing as a Nittany Lion as well. Smith competed with his high school during his junior and senior year and got to experience the fun of seeing all the different teams compete.
"Going there, it was very different than your average high school meet or your average invitational. You have the Jamaican section, the American section going crazy in the big stands there. It was just a great environment," said Smith.
On the coaching end of competing at Penn Relays, Associate Head Coach Erin Tucker says it's no different than training for a regular outdoor meet. The women compete on Thursday, so they have one less day to prep than men, but for the athletes it really doesn't differ as far as regular pre-meet training.
"Penn Relays is just another track meet that we have to prepare for," said Tucker.
Tucker views the Penn Relays as a prep meet for their bigger meets coming in the future.
"In my mind, I look at five track meets that are really important every year: The Indoor Nationals and Indoor Conference meet, the Outdoor Nationals, the Outdoor First-Round Meet and the Conference Meet. Other than that, every other track meet we go to is about having fun and is about prepping for those five meets," said Tucker.
The Nittany Lions will compete at the Penn Relays starting Thursday, April 27 and will continue competing throughout the weekend.