top of page

Showing up & handing off

Alice Yoo '27

May 3, 2024

Last week, the Blue Storm girls and boys relay teams traveled to Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania to compete in the 4x400m event at the historic Penn Relay Carnival, which dates back to 1895 and in which Mercersburg Academy athletes have participated for over a century.

The girls team, consisting of Madison Goodhart ’24, Nia Henley ’24, Erika Sowah ’24, and Anne Sehon ’25, finished third in the independent school division with a time of 4:11.88, and the boys team, including Winston Watkins ’25, Arnav Rao ’26, Konrad Spory ’26, and Iman Zhakan ’26 finished 14th in 3:42.10.

The team did not have to prepare in any special way for the race. Outdoor track & field head coach Nikki Walker stated, “These relays are just part of our season and not something that we train specifically for.” The team ran regular workouts and tried to get enough rest. Watkins added, “Nothing changed too much out of the ordinary. We’re still running workouts with the rest of the team.” 

As the team prepared for the Penn Relays, a mix of emotions filled the air. “I was extremely excited because the 4x400m is an event that I always look forward to every meet,” said Goodhart, “Once I got there, I was immediately blown away by the amount of people…. My nerves were through the roof, but as the race got closer and closer, there was no time to be nervous.” Spory added, “We all felt excited to run in such a big meet and to have the opportunity to run as a team on such a big stage.” 

The teams were satisfied with their performances. “We all did a great job; that was the first time that the four of us ran a 4x400m together, and overall, we were really happy with the result. It was pretty tough running with 18 other teams in our heat,” said Watkins, “At the beginning, all teams slowed down a lot since it was so crowded. Coach Walker also mentioned that our team this year is the youngest team she'd ever brought from Mercersburg to [the competition].” 

Henley said, “While I was moving onto the track to run the last leg of the race when I saw Erika came around the curve moving towards me, I knew in my head we were doing a great job and had a chance to place and run one of our fastest times as a team together.” She added, “Once I saw my team, they were so excited, clapping and cheering. That made me feel really accomplished and proud. Given everyone’s health status, we performed well and were running as a more cohesive team than ever.”

The strategic order of the runners also contributed to the successful results. Watkins explained, “I ran first, then Arnav, then Konrad, and Iman last. The idea was to have our most experienced runners go first and second to get out of the mess of people, and that way, Konrad and Iman had more space to focus on running.” 

Regarding the order for the girls, Henley said, “Sehon knew the gist of the waterfall start. She knew how to be physical when she ran to make it to the front. Next was Maddie Goodhart because she was a very strong runner and could extend our lead, which she did, moving us up four places. The third leg was Erika because she is a powerful runner, and we knew she could maintain our work and place. And I ran the anchor leg to finish the race, and the strategy there was to be a complete competitor—to compete as hard as I could to get us to that finish line.”

The Blue Storm relay teams agreed that the Penn Relays was a memorable few days. Walker said, “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I appreciate being at an institution with a history as rich as ours in these relays.”

bottom of page