Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nova Signee Caitlin Bungo Excited about Spot in Penn Relays

Bungo gets wish of running in Penn Relays
By Chuck Curti, Beaver County Times
April 12, 2012

LEETSDALE — Caitlin Bungo will have plenty of time to get used to the scenery around Philadelphia; she’ll attend Villanova University in the fall and compete with the Wildcats’ track and field team.

In just two weeks, however, the Sewickley Academy senior runner has another pressing appointment in the City of Brotherly Love. Bungo was selected to compete in the prestigious Penn Relays, which will be held April 26-28 at Franklin Field.

Athletes are selected to the event, which comprises competitors from high school, college and track clubs around the world, through an application process. Athletes submit their marks achieved in competition, and Penn Relays organizers make their selections based on that information.

Bungo made the grade largely on the strength of her showing at the New Balance Indoor Nationals held in March at The Armory in New York City. She finished 12th in the 3000-meter run with a time of 10:47.43.

She had applied for the Penn Relays last year but was turned down.

“It was definitely a goal this year just to give it a shot and see if I would be accepted,” she said Wednesday during a break at a meet at Quaker Valley. “My coach (Louise Pegg) was really great in sending all the applications and making sure they got through and everything.

“It will definitely be a new and exciting experience.”

The Penn Relays is the oldest and largest track and field meet in the United States. According to the event’s website, attendance is expected to surpass 110,000 over the three days, and Saturday’s final day of competition has averaged 48,000 spectators over the last six years.

Suffice it to say it’s a few more people than Bungo is accustomed to seeing — even at a “big” meet like the PIAA championships. While she acknowledges that the setting might be a bit overwhelming, she said she’ll try to use the crowd noise as energy.

Plus, it’s a meet she can go into with no pressure. In the WPIAL, where she is the reigning Class AA 800-meter champion, she is expected to be at the head of the field.

No such weight to bear at the Penn Relays. There, she can take an approach similar to the one she took at the WPIAL cross country championships back in the fall. She had never run cross country before her senior year but w up winning the Class AA title at Coopers Lake.

“It makes you feel a little bit better to know that there’s not some great expectation,” she said. “Only what you put on yourself.”

As the track season progresses, Bungo will focus her efforts on defending her WPIAL 800 championship. She is also likely to run the 1600 and possibly the 3200.

The prospect of adding to her medal collection is tantalizing. Almost as much as being a part of one of the world’s premier track and field events.

“I’m just excited to have the experience,” she said. “I never thought I’d be able to do this ... to get the opportunity to run against so many great runners.”

For more about Caitlin, go HERE.

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