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Penn Relays Again Center of Track World

April 26, 2006

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Justin Gatlin boldly predicted he will hold the world record in the 100 meters by this time next year. Leonard Scott goes to sleep thinking about becoming the world 100 outdoor champion.

Big dreams, big goals for the former Tennessee teammates.

They might try for something simpler at the Penn Relays _ like beating the Jamaicans.

Trying to sweep the ``U.S.A vs. the World″ meet, the American team instead was stunned last year in the 1,600-meter relay and lost the all-star event to a Jamaican relay team for the first time.

Gatlin, who anchored the winning 400-meter relay team last year, and Scott are part of the pool of runners looking to making an impact in the showcase event at the historic meet.

Scott, the world 60 indoor champion, could again find himself on the same team as Gatlin. Instead of orange and white, it’s red, white and blue.

Scott believes he was on par with Gatlin in the 100 at school until he took a year off to play football. Gatlin, an Olympic champion, has passed Scott on the national stage, but he hopes to see similar results after a strong showing at nationals.

``I’ve always said, let’s train full time and see what happens then,″ Scott said. ``I truly believe the way things are going, the roles are going to turn back again.″

Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford and Rodney Martin are also part of nearly 150 athletes from 10 countries that will compete in the men’s and women’s 400- and 1,600-meter relays at this year’s ``USA vs. The World″ meet.

Overall, they’re part of 20,000 athletes participating in the 112th Penn Relays, which begin Thursday at Franklin Field. Every April, the Ivy League school’s quiet campus hosts small colleges, NCAA champions and Olympians for three days in the sport’s oldest relay event.

While Saturday’s ``USA vs. the World″ event will draw the headlines, the Penn Relays are really about what happens on Thursday and Friday when the college and high school athletes get their chance to compete in front of some of the biggest crowds they’ll ever see.

The tents and food stands were going up Wednesday around campus, and jerk chicken signs were replacing the ones that normally advertise hot dogs inside the stadium at the University of Pennsylvania. Jamaican fans normally fill a good portion of Franklin Field _ especially on Saturday for the World meet _ waving flags, chanting for their country and cooking their native specialties.

At Glen Miller’s news conference where he was introduced as Penn’s new basketball coach, he was given _ among other gifts _ Penn Relays shirts to break him in for the busy weekend.

But basketball can wait. Especially when some of the biggest names in track are racing into town.

Gatlin is coming off a win at the Kansas Relays where he anchored the 400 relay team. Gatlin, the defending world champion, then predicted he will hold the world record in the 100 meters by this time next year.

``If I don’t do it this year, then next year at Kansas,″ he said.

Scott is trying to make his own mark.

``With my weight, my strength and doing these deuces (200s), the 100 is coming so easy to me now,″ Scott said.

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