On a cool, final Saturday of April each year, the longest event of the Penn Relays gets underway. While the fanfare might not be there for the early morning event, the competition is no less heated, as Olympic hopefuls hit one of their last racewalk opportunities on the track. Soon, they'll be moving over to the roads, the real home of the racewalk, where they'll find longer distances and international competition.
For New Yorkers, Penn has proven fruitful over the past decade. While Maria Michta continues to churn out the win in the OD level, New York preps contest a grueling battle over 5000m. This year, it was all Lauren Harris (Sachem East) in the conlcuding laps of the RW, as she pulled away from close competitor Maria Garcia (North Rockland). Harris has the credentials already, being the only high school athlete ever under 7mins for the mile, Indoors or Out. While she accomplished that mark at NBIN, the Outdoor season could prove even greater opportunities, as she'll look to smash that mark even further at NBON.
For a change, 2016 wasn't just about the female preps. AJ Gruttadauro (Brockport) has been coming onto the scene, pushing the pace indoors to a second place finish at NBIN. He earns his Gold Watch here as well, taking home NY #5 All-Time in the event.