For USA vs. the World, a familiar cast of athletes

24870_04302011_pennrelays_laurafLike every year at the Penn Relays, stars from across the globe will descend on the track at Franklin Field for the “USA vs. the World” races this weekend.

Fresh off his 100m dash bronze medal from the London 2012 Summer Olympic games, Justin Gatlin will headline the American men’s 4x100m relay team.

The former gold medalist was a part of the team that captured first in this event at the Penn Relays a year ago.

Gatlin, along with teammates Mike Rodgers and Walter Dix, will be looking to defend his title against a variety of strong opponents.

But if the Americans are going to sweep the “USA vs. the World” events again, dealing with the Jamaican sprinters will be their toughest task.

The Jamaicans will bring over Nesta Carter, a holdover from their 2012 gold medal-winning 4x100m team.

On the women’s side of the 4x100m race, the title is the Americans’ to lose.

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Jamaica, United States set to take center stage at Relays

With Penn Relays drawing nearer, fans and spectators of track and field are prepared to once again be treated to one of the fiercest rivalries in sports.

Unfortunately for the rest of the sporting world, the matchup between the United States and Jamaica on the track is also one of the most underrated.

Though the world takes note every four summers when runners like Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay take part in the Summer Olympics, the rivalry between two of the greatest track and field teams goes far beyond the spectacle of the world’s greatest two-week sporting event.

However, the casual sports fan may not realize that the United States and Jamaica do battle every single year in Philadelphia at Penn Relays.

Yet as athletes from across the globe descend on Penn’s campus for this year’s Relays, teams comprised of Americans and Jamaicans will once again be out in full force.

While both the men’s and women’s side of the college- and Olympic-level events have seen dominant performances from various athletes of a variety of nationalities, the United States and Jamaica are, without a doubt, the most dominant forces that consistently participate at Penn Relays.

Never is that as evident as when both nations field teams in the annual “USA vs. The World” races at Penn. Always competitive, the Americans and their friends from the Caribbean have put on quite a show of late.

In 2012, the United States swept the “USA vs. The World”  races for the first time in the century-long history of the event. While dominant, the Americans were pushed to the brink by the Green and Yellow.

Last year, the American women’s quartet of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter completed the 4x100-meter race in 42.19. Though the American ladies captured the victory in the race, the top force from the Caribbean was not far behind.

Led by two-time Olympic 100 champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaicans finished second in the race by just over a second, clocking in at 43.31.

If the Americans are going to have an opportunity to replicate their perfect feat this weekend, both the men and women will need strong performances against tough Jamaican foes.

Fans in attendance this weekend are in luck, as a majority of the athletes comprising the two major powers in 2012 will return for the 2013 edition of the Penn Relays.

Additionally, this year’s spectacle will feature an equally intriguing high school lineup.

The Jamaican high school squads at Penn Relays are coming into the event with plenty of momentum. At the ISSA Jamaica Boys and Girls Championships, both sides finished with strong times that, if replicated at Franklin Field, could result in record-breaking marks.

Historically, the Jamaicans have dominated the High School Boys’ 4x100 Championship of America. Of the top 10 fastest times in the history of the event, a Jamaican team holds nine of those marks — the fourth-fastest time comes from a school from Trinidad and Tobago.

Regardless, the American boys have consistently combated the Jamaicans’ dominance with strong times of their own in the 4x400 championship.

With California’s John Muir High School and Long Beach Poly and Maryland’s Northwestern High School participating, this weekend is sure to feature a dramatic contest between the United States and Jamaica.

Now is the time for the casual sports fan to forget about the Olympics and embrace the American-Jamaican rivalry for what it is: a recurring sports gift based on passion and national pride that never fails to provide entertainment, especially at Penn Relays.

Weekend Wrap

While most of Penn's campus engaged in activities relating to Fling, some of the school's spring athletes were not as fortunate over the weekend. With the Ivy League season in full swing for most sports this time of year, this weekend included a number of contentious matchups, including several against ranked opponents. For recaps of all of the action from the past few days, here's this week's edition of Weekend Wrap:

Baseball:

Entering its first division action of the conference season, the Penn baseball team looked to get off to a good start against arch-rival Princeton. The Quakers, however, gave up seven runs to the Tigers in each of the four weekend contests. Although Penn salvaged a split of Saturday's games, Princeton swept Sunday's doubleheader.

No seventh heaven for Penn baseball

 

Men's Tennis: 

Despite starting the Ivy League season 0-3, the Penn men's tennis team returned to Philadelphia this weekend after a five-game road trip. Against No. 70 Dartmouth on Saturday, freshman Blaine Willenborg saved the Quakers by winning his singles match in three sets to give Penn the 4-3 victory. On Sunday, the Red and Blue dropped a heartbreaker to No. 19 Harvard, 4-3.

Penn men's tennis splits thrilling Ivy weekend series

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Palestra a potential site for AAC conference tourney

It appears that the old Big East's loss could be the Palestra's gain.

Sources close to the American Athletic Conference recently reported that the Palestra is one of the potential sites for the new conference's basketball tournaments moving forward.

The conference hit the hardest by realignment was, without question, the Big East. One of the premiere basketball leagues in the nation, the Big East was hampered when schools like Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville decided to make the move to the ACC.

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Weekend Wrap

As spring finally approaches, several of Penn teams were out in full force over the weekend against some of the best competition the Ivy League, and in one case Great Britain, has to offer. From softball sweeps to tennis defeats, and everything in between, here is this week's edition of the Weekend Wrap:

Baseball:

After falling in the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic on Tuesday, the Red and Blue hit the diamond over the weekend in back-to-back conference doubleheaders. The Quakers split two games against Brown on Saturday, falling 9-0 in the opener before capturing the nightcap, 9-5. On Sunday, Penn was guided by strong pitching performances against Yale. The Quakers took the opener, 5-1, before losing the final game of the weekend in a pitchers dual, 1-0.

Penn baseball splits four in weekend slate

Men's Tennis:

The Penn men's tennis team saw its road struggles persist over the weekend in the team's first back-to-back Ivy League action of the spring. On Saturday, the Quakers fell to Brown, 5-2. Sophomore Vim De Alwis and freshman Blaine Willenborg were the only two players to win singles matches. The following day, Penn fell to No. 54 Yale, 7-0. The Red and Blue are now 0-8 on the road, and 0-3 in Ivy play.

Penn men's tennis falls in back-to-back Ivy road matches

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Weekend Wrap

Several Penn sports teams and athletes had opportunities to capture season-defining victories over the weekend. It's not every weekend that the Quakers take on a No. 1 ranked team, or that a freshman swimmer competes at the NCAA Championships. Those settings, combined with Ivy League openers for both the men's and women's tennis teams, as well as the baseball and softball squads, allowed for the Red and Blue to be well-represented this weekend. For coverage of these matchups and more, here's this week's edition of the Weekend Wrap:

Baseball: After a competitive non-conference schedule, the Penn baseball team kicked off its Ivy League season with a doubleheader sweep of Dartmouth on Saturday. Both games ended in 3-2 victories for the Quakers. On Sunday, the Red and Blue went up against Harvard, capturing the day's first game, 4-1, before the second game was eventually postponed due to rain. After play resumed Monday, the Crimson struck for three runs in the ninth, and handed Penn its first Ivy loss of 2013.

 

Penn baseball proves non-Ivy success no fluke

 

BRIEF | Penn baseball can't complete sweep

 

Men's Tennis: Kicking off Ivy League play on Saturday, the Penn men's tennis team fell to Princeton for the sixth straight season, 4-3. Although the matchup was tight throughout, the early loss of the doubles point ended up dooming the Quakers. After the Tigers took a 1-0 lead, the teams split all six singles matches, giving Princeton enough points to caputre the victory.

 

BRIEF | Penn men's tennis suffers another loss to Princeton

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Weekend Wrap

With the spring sports season in full swing, various Penn teams spent their weekends preparing for the beginning of the conference season, jockeying for position in the Ivy League and even participating in Championship events. As the calendar gets ready to flip to April, the Red and Blue are looking to make moves that will define their seasons. Here now is this week's edition of the Weekend Wrap.

Men's Tennis: The Penn men's tennis team secured its first road victory of the season on Saturday. Against St. John's, the Quakers captured the doubles point early on, and rode the momentum to a 5-2 victory. With their non-conference schedule complete, the Red and Blue now turn their attention to their Ivy League opener on Saturday.

Penn men's tennis tops St. John's in final Ivy tune-up

Track and Field: In Penn's first outdoor meet of the season, the Quakers notched several victories in the 2013 Philadelphia College Classic. Most notably, freshman Sam Mattis broke Penn's discus record on his first collegiate attempt. Additionally, the women's field squad performed well, as junior Morgan Wheeler moved up to third place in Penn history in the javelin throw after a 45.72 meter attempt.

Red and Blue shine in outdoor season debut

Women's Lacrosse: Hosting Ivy League rival Cornell, the No. 16 Penn women's lacrosse team was able to survive a late scare from the Big Red, and won, 12-11, in overtime. After the Quakers built a 10-3 halftime lead, Cornell charged back. The Big Red knotted the score at 11 with 1:22 to play in regulation, but junior Shannon Mangini's goal in the extra period saved the Red and Blue.

Quakers hold off Big Red rally

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Weekend Wrap

Now that the Penn men's and women's basketball seasons have ended, it's time to turn our attention to the progress of other teams sporting the Red and Blue. With the baseball, softball and tennis teams in action, among others, it was a busy weekend for the Quakers. For coverage of those teams and more, here is this week's edition of the Weekend Wrap:

Men's Tennis:

After completing a slate of five matchups over spring break, the Penn men's team was back in action on Saturday. The Quakers went up against No. 26 Virginia Commonwealth, and ultimately fell, 7-0. It was a rough day for every member of the team, as the Red and Blue failed to capture any of the three doubles matches, and dropped every set in singles matches.

Penn men’s tennis overmatched by No. 26 VCU

Football:

While the Penn football team may not be seeing any action beyond spring practices anytime soon, it's been a busy few months for three senior players. Brandon Copeland, Scott Lopano and Joe Bonadies participated in Villanova's NFL pro day on Monday after weeks of preparation.

Three Penn football seniors prepare for NFL Pro day 

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Turn Back the Clock: March 17, 2006

After clinching a second consecutive Ivy League championship, the Penn men's basketball falls just short of upsetting No. 2 seed Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

March 17, 2006

Appearing in the Big Dance for the ninth time in 14 years, the Quakers went head-to-head with the Texas Longhorns, one of the top teams in the nation.

Led by Ivy League Player of the Year Ibby Jaaber, the Red and Blue gave the Longhorns a run for their money before ultimately falling short, 60-52.

Penn led 23-22 at halftime, due in large part to coach Fran Dunphy's savvy gameplan.

While the Longhorns' lineup featured several future NBA players, including LaMarcus Aldridge and Daniel Gibson, the Quakers used a controlled pace early to slow down the game.

Dunphy's gameplan effectively tried to eliminate the talent gap between the two teams, and allowed the Quakers to dictate the style of play.

And for the first 20 minutes, Penn controlled the game, limiting the Longhorns ability to score on fast-break opportunities, or in transition.

Although the Longhorns eventually took the lead midway through the second half, the Quakers remained competitive throughout.

Brian Grandieri's layup cut Texas' lead to one with 6:28 to play, and after the Longhorns missed a shot on the other end, the Red and Blue called timeout.

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Weekend Wrap

As Penn students return to campus after a much-needed Spring Break, let's take some time to reflect on what our Quakers were up to over the past 10 days. From men's swimming at the Ivy League Championships to baseball down South, the Red and Blue certainly were well traveled this vacation. With recaps, analysis and more, here is this week's delightfully lengthy edition of Weekend Wrap:

Women's Tennis:

The Penn women's tennis team was one of several squads to hit the road over break. Led by sophomore Alex Ion, as well as sophomore Sol Eskenazi and freshman Sonya Latycheva, the Quakers went 3-for-3 on their Florida road trip. Penn captured victories over James Madison, Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast.

Women's tennis goes 3-for-3 over break

Wrestling:

Penn's wrestling team competed at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships over break, finishing third among all schools. The third-place finish was due in large part to senior Micah Burak, who finally captured his first EIWA title.

Burak finally gets his hands on EIWA trophy

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