By John Riemer
UNCW Athletic Communications Intern

WILMINGTON, North Carolina- UNCW will send 17 track and field athletes to the third most watched meet in the world this weekend when the group heads to the prestigious Penn Relays hosted by the University of Pennsylvania at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

Coach Jim Sprecher’s team wraps up the regular season with the meet, which runs Thursday through Saturday, April 24-26. The Seahawks will be competing in six relay events and the Long Jump.

The Penn Relays, which originated in 1895, is the longest uninterrupted collegiate track meet in the country. There will be more than 22,000 athletes competing in the event, starting Thursday with the 400m hurdles. Attendance to the largest track meet in the nation is likely to top 110,000 for the third year in a row.

“It’s the world’s oldest and largest relay meet,” said Sprecher. “The competitive atmosphere is unlike any other meet. You have Olympic Gold Medalists, international teams, and the country’s premier track and field talent - all at one meet.”

In 116 editions of the meet, more athletes have competed at the Penn Relays than at any single meet in the world. The meet ranks only behind the Olympics and the World Track and Field Championships in viewership.

Athletes must meet qualifying standards to compete at the Penn Relays because of the size and reputation of the meet. The Seahawks have been sending athletes to the meet since 1992 and have enjoyed success against the best competition in the nation.

“We’ve had three individual championships, Michael McDuffie (Triple Jump) and Anna Raynor (twice in Javelin). In relay events, we’ve had three 4x400m teams, one 4x200m team and a 4x800m team take first place and win the coveted Penn Relays plaques,” said Sprecher.

The UNCW men’s team qualified a Sprint Medley Relay, Shuttle Hurdle Relay, 4x200m Relay and 4x400m Relay as well as Long Jump.

Seniors Johnny Nixon, Anthony Colon, and reigning CAA Track Athlete-of-the-Week Dylan Skinner will lead the relay teams. Joining the seniors at the Penn Relays will be quarter-mile/hurdle specialists Matt Foster, Hezekiah Ward, Trip Foreman, Jamar Collins-Hall and Cody Love. Rounding out the men’s relay teams will be Seahawk newcomers Cam Shaw, Brandon Mclean and Vince Ragland.

The women will field a 4x200m Relay as well as a Sprint Medley Relay. The teams will be headlined by senior and NCAA Regional Qualifier Meena Reid. Sprinters Hailey Blackburn, Gabby Robinson, Sarah Whitman, and mid-distance specialist Emily Mauro will make up the rest of the relay teams.

Former John T. Hoggard High School standout Brent Campbell will compete in the Long Jump. The senior set a personal best of 23-9 in the event at Virginia Tech during the indoor season and he’s looking to climb to the top of the school’s record board.

The men and women’s relay teams have been strong all year. The Seahawks hope to continue that success before setting their sights on the Colonial Athletic Association Championships May 2-4 in Harrisonburg, Va.

“Three of those relays broke school records at the Florida Relays - the women in the sprint medley relay, the men’s shuttle hurdle relay and sprint medley relay. The Penn Relays give us another shot at running fast in those record relays,” said Sprecher.