The Penn Relay Carnival — which created the Wall of Fame in 1994 at the time of the 100th running — welcomes its class of 2008, the 15th group of inductees, to bring its numbers to 75 individuals and 65 relay teams. Four individuals and four relay teams were selected by a panel of Penn Relays experts. The sole restriction in the nomination process is that only retired athletes (or those now competing as masters) may be nominated, and inductees are honored solely for their accomplishments at the Penn Relays; achievements in any other meets are not considered. Any relay team may be nominated, and nominations of relay teams and individuals will be accepted by the Penn Relays office at any time and from any interested party.
This year’s individual inductees run to the two extremes of the standard Wall of Fame inductees. John Treacy and Elaine Sobansky won only twice each at the Relays, but each set a still-standing record which has lasted more than a quarter century. At the other end of the spectrum are Edwin Roberts and Frank Murphy, who claimed 20 championships combined in college and Olympic Development races.
Relay teams from three different eras are being celebrated this year. The Seton Hall Freshmen mile relay team from 1940 harkens back to the days before freshman eligibility became the norm in the 1960s. The Hall’s team of Ted Janiak, Joe Matyunas, Bill Gannon and Larry Dineen ran 3:18.9, a meet record which lasted until 1955. The Brooklyn Boys’ 1966 distance medley team set a 10:09.8 meet record in the last year of the cinder track. While that mark was broken the next year, the difference between the pre-1967 Franklin Field dust and mud to the modern synthetic accounts for every bettering of Boys’ High’s record until at least 1983, and possibly even to 1999. Mark Edmead, John Henry, Mike Randall and James Jackson comprised the Boys’ High team.
In the modern era of synthetic tracks, Texas Christian ran the first sub-39 college 4×100 at the Relays. The 1991 team of Jon Drummond, Carey Johnson, Ralston Wright and Horatio Porter ran 38.80, setting a record that lasted ten years. Jamaica’s Holmwood Tech won the 2001 high school girls’ 4×400 with a still-standing 3:34.75 on the efforts of Kerri Ann White, Karen Gayle, Aneisha McLaughlin and Sheryl Morgan.
Frank Murphy • Villanova ‘69
The Outstanding College Athlete of the 1968 Relays, the versatile Murphy was part of the Villanova team that year that became the first to win five relay championships. In his three varsity years, he ran on eight winning relay teams in nine tries, contributing to five meet records in four different events. His winning efforts included mile, half-mile and three-quarter legs.
Edwin Roberts • North Carolina College ‘65; Baltimore Olympic Club ‘68; Philadelphia Pioneers ‘73
A sprinter of amazing durability, Roberts first made his mark at the Relays with North Carolina College in the mid-1960s, twice winning the 100-yard dash and as a vital cog on three championship relays. Nine years after his college days he was still running on winning Olympic Development teams before moving on to success in Masters races.
Elaine Sobansky • Trinity High (Washington, Pa.) ‘80; Penn State ‘84
Sobansky was a two-time winner in the Penn Relays, once each in the high school and college divisions. A high school great, she set the Carnival record in 1980, the first year the high schoolers used the 4-kilo shot. That record remains the only high school throw of more than 50 feet at the Relays.
John Treacy • Providence ‘78; Providence Track Club ‘80; New Balance Track Club ‘84
Treacy’s first Penn Relays appearance was a stunner, as he won the combined College and Olympic Development 10,000m race, setting a 27:55.2 record on a rainy 1978 Thursday night. To this day, that mark still stands as the Carnival’s collegiate record 30 years later. Two years later, he also won the Olympic Development 10,000.