All-time Penn track great James Edwin "Ted" Meredith and The Penn Relays were inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 10.
The Penn Relays joins The Palestra as the second Penn institution to receive special enshrinement in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. The Palestra, known as the "Cathedral of Basketball," was enshrined as a venue in 2006 and is the only Philadelphia sports venue currently in the Hall. The Penn Relays will become the first Philly sports institution to join the Hall.
The Penn Relays, which was first held in 1895 and completed its 117th running in April of 2011, hosts more than 20,000 athletes from around the world and more than 100,000 spectators at Franklin Field over a three-day period each spring.
In 2010, 54,319 track and field fans filled Franklin Field to watch world record-holder Usian Bolt anchor the Jamaica Gold team to the championship in the men's 4x100 in the USA vs. The World series. Bolt is one of the numerous Olympic gold medalists to compete at The Penn Relays. Every Summer Olympics, with the exception of the 1980 U.S.-boycotted games, has included at least one runner from the Penn Relays.
James Meredith was one of those athletic stars. He was a student at Mercersberg Academy when he began to make his mark on the track world. He broke the interscholastic 440-yard record twice; once at a meet in Princeton, N.J., and once at Franklin Field. In 1912, at the age of 19, Meredith won the 800-meter competition at the Stockholm Olympics—a race in which the top four finishers all ran under the world record. He won a second gold medal at those games running a leg of the 4x400 relay.
Meredith enrolled at Penn in 1912, and during a two-week span of the 1916 season, he set two more world records in the 880-yard race and the 440-yard mark. He would lower his 440-yard time in IC4A competition that same year. Overall, Meredith won four combined IC4A championships in the 880 and 440-yard runs.
Prior to his record-setting season, Meredith was the U.S. national champion in the 440-yard run in 1914 and 1915. He won five All-America distinctions, three times for the 440-yard competition and two for the 800.
Meredith is already a member of the National Track Hall of Fame and the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame also inducted the following athletes into its ranks: Al Meltzer, Bill Bergey, Biz Mackey, Curt Simmons, Dawn Staley, Ed and Steve Sabol, Jimmy Dykes, Joe McCarthy, Moses Malone, Mark Howe, Ora Washington, Speedy Morris and Wilbert Montgomery.
Originally published on November 10, 2011