The Terrier men qualified and competed in two uber-competitive fields, including many of the best collegiate teams in the country and all over the world, beginning with the 4x400 meter relay, followed by the Sprint Medley Championship of America Invitational.
The Terriers’ 4x400 team, which consisted of Paul Clarke, Luther Gillespie, Lamar Gillespie and Diego Delacruz, finished in 3:23.78 and ahead of Marist College and the University of Connecticut.
In the sprint medley relay, the Boys from Brooklyn recorded a top-30 finish, and the team of Clarke, the two Gillespie’s and Luis Porto put together a time of 3:38.48.
“It’s good to finally get the college experience with my team in the relays. It was a good step to showcase our talent out here,” said Delacruz, who also ran at the Relays while at Christ the King High School. “The energy in here was perfect. I feel like we could’ve done a lot better, we had little mistakes here and there, but overall I feel like we did good as a team.”
Franklin Field at the University of Penn can hold nearly 53,000 fans, making it by far the largest venue that the Terriers have performed in this outdoor season. In terms of historical significance, the Penn Relays serve as the oldest and longest running track-and-field fixture within the United States, taking place every year since 1895.
“It’s my first time here ever, and it was great,” said Porto, who anchored the sprint medley relay with an 800-meter dash. “For me, running in the stadium wasn’t really nerve wracking because it’s the same thing once you get on the track. The experience was really when you’re around the stands and the people walking around, everything is just packed.”
Clarke, a sophomore and the lone non-senior who made the trip to Philly, echoed the same tune delivered by Porto regarding the ability to attack Penn Relays with a fearless mindset, because at the end of the day, whether it’s at The Armory or at Penn Relays, a track is a track.
“I came here in high school a lot, so I already knew what the atmosphere was like,” he said. “Knowing that I’m back here representing my college, and I have my high school coaches here, people that I used to run with are here, and just knowing that, it could’ve got into my head a little bit if anything.
“But overall, you don’t really get nervous,” he added. “It’s a stadium but there’s still that track. You don’t really look at all those people in the crowd, unless you want to take in the moment or something like that.”
Looking ahead toward the upcoming NEC Championships, the Gillespie twins believe that the Terriers are in good shape leading up to the three-day event in Maryland, thanks to a spirited showing against elite opposition.
“In terms of a collective group for the actual relay, the experience was fun, we ran a decent time,” said Luther. “I think it was a good warm-up for conference. For what it was, no regrets, man.”
“We ran Penn Relays three times in high school, so to finally do it for our first time in college was awesome,” added Lamar. “I wish more teammates could’ve come out, but to put St. Francis back in that type of environment was a nice thing. The atmosphere makes you want to run harder. Now I’ve got to put it all together for the final dance, baby!”
That final dance, for the men and women, will begin on the morning of Friday, May 5, and will run through Sunday. The Conference Championships will be held at Mount Saint Mary’s.