When one thinks of the track and field in America, two meets come to mind: the Olympics and the historic Penn Relays.
Penn Relays started more than 100 years ago and has seen many great athletes participate from high schools, colleges and the professional ranks.
This Thursday, N.C Central University will travel to Pennsylvania to compete in the annual event in which the athletes compete against the best track and field athletes the United States has to offer.
The lineage of Penn Relays is classic and historic. The greatest of runners have run here from Jesse Owens to Maurice Green.
Head track coach Mike Lawson enjoys the atmosphere of this landmark event.
Lawson, who ran for St. Augustine’s College from 1977-1981, describes the feeling of 55,000 screaming fans looking down at him on the track as very exciting and nerve-wracking.
“For me the Penn Relays feels like going to the Olympics,” Lawson said.
“There is just that electric buzz that you get from being there.”
Traditionally, NCCU has been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to track and field.
In 1972, two Eagles relay teams won their respective races.
The sprint medley relay team was enshrined on the Penn Relay Wall of Fame in 1995; ten years later, the 880- yard relay team was enshrined.
NCCU has also had individuals selected to the Wall of Fame such as Larry Black and Lee Calhoun.
Black, an Olympic gold and silver medalist and Calhoun, a two-time 120 Yard NCAA champion, are considered two of NCCU’s greatest runners.
Under Head Coach Mike Lawson, NCCU has been competitive in the relays.
Last year, NCCU won the 4x100 collegiate relays.
NCCU senior Will Scott also took home the triple jump for the collegiate division.
“This year, we won’t be able to defend our 4x100 crown due to some injuries that we had during the season, but we expect our 4x200 men’s team to be good,” said Lawson.
“Our girls have a really good chance of doing well, we just have to bring our best game.”
The meet will start this Thursday morning. The Eagles will look to bring home the title Penn Relays Champions of America.