There wasn't much chatter in the Marino family car early Saturday morning as Hatboro-Horsham senior pole vaulter Nick Marino rode with his parents and his girlfriend to the Penn Relays.
At 6:30 a.m., there wasn't much to say. Fatigue saw to that.
Perhaps Marino, who had been disappointed by his two previous performances at Franklin Field, used the silence to also quiet his nerves.
"This is like the most prestigious track meet in the country, and I've always just been very nervous," he said. "But I knew I would do something good today when I stepped out of the car and my heart didn't immediately start going faster. The last couple of years it just immediately started to go, but I was able to relax a little better today."
The result was a first-place finish and a trip to the podium in front of the weekend's largest crowd. Saturday's attendance was 47,420. The three-day total was 108,912.
Marino's final height of 15 feet, 9 inches drew cheers from onlookers, who also provided a boost when he attempted a Penn Relays record of 16-6 3/4 inches, which he couldn't quite clear after three tries.
"It was crazy," said Marino, who will compete at Bucknell next season. "I was completely exhausted, and they got a [slow] clap going, and I instantly had another three jumps' worth of energy."
The group clapping included a sizable contingent of fans wearing Jamaican colors who presumably just wanted to support a young man in pursuit of a record.
In years past, the atmosphere may have been intimidating. Marino said he didn't place at all last season and didn't clear a height the year before.
"It's been a thing with me not doing too well here, and to finally put up a jump that's remotely close to my [personal record], I'm happy with it," he said.
His PR is 16-3, which he cleared last weekend during a meet at Shippensburg University.
That feat, Marino said, provided ample confidence heading into this weekend. Marino also won the PIAA indoor championship in February and finished second in the outdoor championships last season.
The Penn Relays, however, wasn't just about him.
"For Hatboro-Horsham, it's awesome," said coach Mike Harmon. "I've been with the program for 17 years, and we've never had anyone on the podium here. It's just awesome for the school, and it's awesome for Nick. He's put in a lot of hard work, and it's paid off."
Marino expressed similar sentiments.
"I got my team on the podium," Marino said, smiling. "I'm proud to do that. I represented my team. That's the biggest thing."