The noise from the Franklin Field crowd of 47,756 had grown from loud to ear-splitting Saturday by the time the starter’s pistol went off for the first “USA vs. The World” race of the Penn Relays, the women’s 4×100 meters. And the sound grew even more intense as Jamaica beat Team USA Red to the wire.
As she walked off the track following the race, Destinee Brown wanted to even the score right away.
“It was a lot of emotions like, ‘We almost had it,’ and ‘Oh my God, when is the next race? How much more time do we have?’” said Brown, who starred at Southern California before turning professional. “For me, it was just really getting pumped and motivated after the 4×1 was so close … getting mentally and physically ready to go out and dominate.”
The U.S. women did just that. Brown and Aaliyah Brown, who also was part of the Team USA Red 4×100 unit, joined Kimberlyn Duncan (200) and Raevyn Rogers (400) to set a world record in the women’s sprint medley relay, 1 minute, 35.20 seconds.
After losing the first race of the 19th annual competition, the United States won the last five races.
Justin Gatlin, now 36 and competing at Penn 17 years after his first appearance there for Tennessee, ran the second leg of the victorious 4×100 relay for his 11th USA vs. The World victory. Gatlin teamed with former Darby resident LeShon Collins, Tevin Hester and Justin Walker for a time of 38.39 seconds.
Team USA’s wins also came in the men’s (3:01.31) and women’s (3:26.73) 4×400 and in the men’s sprint medley (3:14.91). Jamaica’s women clocked 43.14 in taking the 4×100.
For Rogers, who was part of two carnival records running last year for Oregon, said the noise from the Jamaican fans scattered throughout the stadium in their green and gold colors was “really intimidating.”
“So it makes me really happy when I’m in that setting because, ‘OK, now I have something to prove,’” she said. “Although you’re on U.S. ground, they still make it seem like it’s their territory. So in a sense, we’re trying to earn our territory back and let them know, ‘Remember, you’re in the U.S.’
“So that’s really the excitement that I sort of channeled in, like OK, ‘We’re really about to show you all.’ We just took it away and dominated.”
Rogers closed out the record performance with a blistering 50.48-second anchor leg in the 400.
The women got the baton around the track without incident, and chuckled when asked about the reason for their success in what can be a troublesome area for runners who compete mostly in individual races.
“We only had one day of practice,” said Aaliyah Brown said. “But at the end of the day, we all came from great schools that had great relays. I think we just came together and the chemistry was there because we all kind of know each other. Even in a short period of time we still had to come together and get the job done and I think that’s what we did today.”
And the crowd loved it, with those chanting “U-S-A” drowning out the chants of “Ja-mai-ca.”
“I still love the crowd, I still love the energy,” said Duncan, who competed with Louisiana State for four years at the carnival and thought this was her “third or fourth” time at Penn as a professional. “It’s the same Penn which I love. I love coming here to compete.”