The Wisconsin men’s track and field team saved one of its finest performances all season for the big stage this past weekend at the 125th Penn Relays.
Thanks to some heroic efforts from anchors Morgan McDonald and Oliver Hoare, the team scored two victories over the weekend in the distance medley relay and 4xMile relay at University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.
Friday’s victory in the distance medley relay was the men’s team’s first Penn Relays title since 1916.
The team of McDonald, Corbin Ellis, Eric Brown and Hoare overcame swift competition from reigning NCAA champion Notre Dame, Georgetown and Indiana — the Badgers were at or near the front of the pack for the majority of the race.
Track and Field: Hoare sets UW record in 1500 meters, headlining busy weekend in CaliforniaIt was a jam-packed weekend for both of Wisconsin’s track and field teams, who competed in two separate meets in Read…
When Hoare received the baton for the 1500 meter anchor leg, runners began to bunch up and the race grew tight. But the reigning NCAA 1500 meter champion would not let up, carrying his team to victory with a time of 9 minutes, 47.19 seconds thanks to his famed, last-minute kick with under 200 meters to go in the race.
“103 years is a long time to wait to win a championship of America Penn Relays wheel, but to be honest, this is what we came here to do,” Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne told UWBadgers. “In saying that, anything can happen race day, and it did.”
Friday also featured the collegiate track debut for Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman Trophy hopeful Jonathan Taylor of the Wisconsin football team. Taylor competed in the 4×100 meter relay event alongside Robby Hatch, David Young and Ellis, as the Badgers finished in 23rd place with a time of 42.00 seconds.
Despite the underwhelming finish, it was a successful debut for Taylor, who competed and won at the Penn Relays in his days as a New Jersey high school track star.
“It’s going to take a few meets for JT to get his sprinting legs under him, but today in the 4×100 relay, he certainly did not look like he’s been away from track for over two years. He was smooth, controlled, relaxed, and clean on the exchange,” Byrne said.
Saturday’s 4xMile relay was certainly the most dramatic event of the weekend.
The squad of Olin Hacker, Zack Benning, Hoare and McDonald finished with a time of 16 minutes, 39.82 seconds, barely edging out Indiana, who placed second with a time of 16:39.86, and Georgetown, who finished third in 16:40.63 in what was the very definition of a photo finish.
Once again, the race came down to the anchor leg, where McDonald squared off against Indiana’s Ben Veatch, the Big Ten indoor 3K champion, and Georgetown’s Spencer Brown.
But McDonald, a three-time NCAA champion, gave one of the most memorable runs of his Badger career, chasing down and passing Veatch on the outside lane with less than 100 meters to go to give Wisconsin its second relay victory of the weekend and third-ever Penn Relays title.
Other notable performances on the men’s side came from the 4×400 meter relay squad of Hatch, Ryan Dundun, Colin Enz and Stacey Boyd II, who finished in the top-25 with a time of 3:14.67.
Hatch also placed 19th overall in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 53.77.
Next up, the Badgers will host the Wisconsin Alumni Classic next Friday in their only outdoor meet of the season. Field events will start at 1 p.m. with running events to follow at 4:30 p.m. from the McClimon Track Complex.