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May 01, 2012

Loomis Chaffee Boys Track Relays Win, Take Second at Penn Relays!

Penn Relays Team Loomis

Six Loomis Chaffee athletes excelled in two events on Friday and Saturday at the 118th Penn Relays, held in Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania under the guidance of Nike Running Camp Director, Scott Purdy.

The 4x100 relay team of seniors Stephan Turner, Zach Williams, Austin King, and John Abraham finished second in the Independent Prep Schools Division on Friday. On Saturday, the 4x400 team one-upped them, winning our division against teams from Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and the Washington, D.C., area. 

"This was the first Loomis trip to the Penn Relays in recent history, and the guys made the most of the opportunity," head boys track coach Scott Purdy noted following the races.

The Penn Relays is the biggest track and field event on the East Coast every year, with 22,000 athletes and more than 100,000 spectators in the three-day event. More than 550 high school teams were entered overall in the various 4x100 relay divisions, and nearly 600 in the 4x400. Those teams included roughly 30 international teams, most from Jamaica. Both Loomis relay teams ran times that overall ranked them in the top 20 percent of their races, regardless of division. (Of note, more than 300 schools came from the "large public school" division, defined as schools with more than 1,100 students).

Coach Purdy credited the runners' event coaches for preparing the athletes well for the big stage, the large-event logistics, and the sheer numbers of athletes at the Penn Relays."To do well under those conditions, the athletes need to have been prepared well by the coaches to act on instinct," he said. Assistant coaches Adrian Stewart and Andrew Bartlett took the 4x100 team to the meet for the Friday race, and while Coach Purdy brought Hiskes and Bermel the next day to join Abraham and King for Saturday's 4x400 relay, he thanked distance coach Sally Knight for her great work training and preparing Hiskes and Bermel. Sally stayed on campus along with the rest of the coaching staff to help prepare the rest of the boys team for a tri-meet on Saturday.

With the Penn Relays live-streamed online and results updated almost instantly on the Penn Relays website, the Loomis Chaffee community back on the Island kept a close watch on the relay teams' races.

"From the reports we heard after the races, it seems that pockets of the entire Loomis community enjoyed the event," Coach Purdy said. "Within minutes of each finish, the guys received text messages from classmates and teachers who had watched the event streaming live from Penn Relays TV. Rumor has it that one class watched a race on a projector in class just before starting their period."

Abraham was also thrilled with LC's support. "The experience was amazing, but what was even more cool was how closely everyone here followed our race," he said. "We had such incredible support from our friends and coaches."

Coach Purdy concluded, "The guys appreciated the support, and the smiles never faded all weekend, even though we were unable — even after two four-hour car rides, several meals, and one night's sleep — to help one of the captains pick his college — Brown or Georgetown? Georgetown or Brown?"

Late Saturday afternoon, the 4x400 boys and Coach Purdy returned to campus just in time to see their teammates finishing the home meet against Deerfield and Hotchkiss. Exhausted from the weekend's excitement but eager to support their team, the lads and coach beamed as they cheered on their team in the tri-meet's final event.

See a video clip of John Abraham's Friday finish in the 4x100.

See a video clip of the winning 4 x 400 relay team of King, Hiskes, Abraham, and Bermel.

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