The IU track and field team is competing in the 125th Penn Relays beginning Thursday against colleges from all over the United States.
With more than 200 teams competing, the meet is far larger than anything the Hoosiers have seen this season.
IU Head Coach Ron Helmer said, the massive amount of competitors does not mean an intense, difficult weekend.
Helmer said it’s instead a chance for the team to take a step back and relax, go have fun and experience something different from other events this season.
“Relays meets where you’re just trying to beat people and running in front of 50,000 people used to be a big part of the sport, so we still support the Penn Relays, and the kids look forward to it,” Helmer said.
A weekend this close to the Big Ten championships and the NCAA championships is often a weekend in which teams and athletes set out looking for qualifying times.
That's not the case for IU.
“There’s a lot of people that would give up this relays weekend for a chance to go chase some marks again,” Helmer said. “We’ve chased them a number of times in good situations and if we’ve got them we’ve got them.”
Although the team isn’t chasing qualifying marks, Helmer said he still hopes for a good showing from the group of about 30 athletes who are making the trip.
This includes a few athletes who enter the meet with a good chance to win their event.
Leading the NCAA this season in the steeplechase, senior Daniel Michalski comes into the meet as a favorite to win the event.
Last year’s Penn Relays champion in the women’s 3,000-meter, senior Maggie Allen, makes her return and will look to defend her title in the race.
In the field events, Helmer said he thinks sophomore Maddy Pollard and junior Khayla Dawson will be in the mix for the shot put title and senior Eric Bethea has a chance to grab first-place in the triple jump.
Rounding out the slate of events to look out for are the relays.
This includes both the men’s and women’s 4x800-meter teams, men’s 4xMile, women’s 4x1500-meter, and the men’s sprint medley relay.
The meet gets underway Thursday and will finish up Saturday.