WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The UNCW men’s and women’s track and field teams head down I-95 today to compete in the Pepsi Florida Relays, a nationally-acclaimed meet featuring more than 3,000 high school, collegiate and international competitors from all over the world.

The Seahawks, making their fifth appearance of the outdoor season, are back in action after having their Beaches Vs. Mountains Meet washed out one week ago. Coach Jim Sprecher and his staff will carry 40 student-athletes to the historic meet at the Percy Beard Track at the University of Florida’s James G. Pressly Stadium.

“Every year when we set our schedule, it’s always one of the meets that the team looks forward to going to each year,” said Sprecher, UNCW’s veteran coach. “There’s great competition and we’re going to see some of the top collegiate athletes in the country as well as international athletes who are former and future Olympians.

“The atmosphere will be great and our athletes always enjoy competing in front of a large crowd. We’ve always had a lot of success at the Florida Relays. We can’t control the competition and just try to control ourselves. We hope to get the best performances we can and we’ve been competitive in the past.”

One of the highlights in UNCW’s participation at the Relays came in April of 2012 when the 4X800 relay team of Connor Brooks, Ryan O'Connor, Bob Vanderham and Wil Zahorodny clocked a winning time of 7:28.66.

The event originated in 1939 and started as a one-day meet with 209 athletes. Today, the meet has evolved into a three-day affair and one of the nation’s premier track meets.

The Relays have been held every year since 1939, except during World War II (1942-46) and in 2006 when construction to facilities surrounding Percy Beard Track prevented the meet from being contested. The first 15 meets were held on the cinder track at Graham Field, south of Florida Field. In 1959, UF's track and field complex was moved to its present location.

Starting with the 2012 Florida Relays, athletes have benefitted from running on a completely renovated track. More than $725,000 was poured into a new Mondo surface, which included renovating the additional 30 feet of track space at the southwest corner of the stadium, installed in 2007.

Following this weekend’s meet, the Seahawks compete in the two-day East Carolina Invitational next weekend in Greenville, N.C.