|Walt Murphy's News|
Last Updated: June 2, 2003
Memories from Penn
Webster ran two incredible anchor legs for Kennett Square Consolidated-PA in the early morning high school mile relays in 1960 and 1961. Getting the stick far behind each time, he ran splits in the 47-second range to bring his team home first. He finished 6th in the 440-yard dash at the 1961 U.S. Outdoor Championships and finished the year with a best of 46.5(y)! He later ran on the winning sprint medley team for Villanova at the 1963 Relays.
"The Penn Relays, Franklin Field, represents the premiere track event of the year. For decades, it has been more than a track meet, it represents a culture, as it is properly named a carnival. If there was one track meet you wanted to do your best, it was the Penn Relays. There is no venue like Penn, no crowds, no excitement, the "Wall", no more anticipation to perform for the greatest fans in track and field....the roar!!
After 40 years it's difficult not to try and be intellectual or rationalize about the races. I try to avoid that and recall the events as clearly as I can remember. I was guest speaker at my high school alumni meeting and asked this same question and it was difficult to explain what I felt and to recall the events.
It wasn't unusual for me to be behind in relay races or open races for that matter, because the majority of the time I ran from behind, but further behind in the relay races. I never calculated what distance was too far or whether I could do it or not.
Those types of thoughts never entered my mind. Actually, the first year at Penn (1960), I was focused on watching my teammates and when my turn came to get the baton I wanted to run the best I could and try to win. To this day, I don't remember much, but it did seem to happen quickly and I walked away. However, there is one thing I do remember and that was the roar of the crowd. The famous Penn Relay crowd that electrified the stadium and cheered me to victory.
My senior year (1961), I remember getting a new par of shoes the day of the race. They were Adidas 9.9's, white with blue stripes (school colors). The box was so light I didn't think there was anything in it. The kangaroo skin was so soft and smooth, it felt like a glove around my foot. With these shoes, I felt I could run with the wind.
As I recall, I think this year there was cool rain, but the excitement warmed the chill. Things were different, because I believe I was expected to win regardless of the circumstances. Thus, I didn't want to disappoint my teammates, coach, parents and everyone that supported me, nor the crowd that embraced me the year before. It was like an instant replay."