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Marines Share Core Values With Student Athletes
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom, Recruiting Command
July 12, 2018

The U.S. Marine Corps partnered with the Penn Relays for their 124th running at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, April 26 – 28, 2018.

During the three-day event, Marines fostered positive relationships with student athletes and the community through physical fitness challenges and sharing stories of honor, courage and commitment.

Penn Relays is the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States. More than 15,000 athletes from high schools, colleges and track clubs, and over 100,000 spectators attend the event, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field, every year.

“The Penn Relays is the spotlight for our athletes on their sport,” said Amy Gutmann, the president of the University of Pennsylvania. “To have it right here at the University of Pennsylvania is a great honor, and it’s truly historic every year.”

The Penn Relays offered a chance for attendees to negotiate the Marine Corps’ Battles Won Challenge, a traveling obstacle course consisting of grip and strength bars, a cargo net climb, a rope climb, pull-ups, push-ups, crunches and a mental agility lab.

Mike Delone from Chester County, Pennsylvania, participates in a Marine Corps pull-up challenge during the Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania campus, April 28, 2018. Marines partnered with and attended the 124th Penn Relays to foster positive relationships with student athletes and coaches and to educate the track and field community on opportunities within the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom)
Mike Delone from Chester County, Pennsylvania, participates in a Marine Corps pull-up challenge during the Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania campus, April 28, 2018. Marines partnered with and attended the 124th Penn Relays to foster positive relationships with student athletes and coaches and to educate the track and field community on opportunities within the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom)
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“[The obstacles] are designed to promote healthy competition while simultaneously educating participants and reinforcing the Marine Corps brand values of making Marines, winning our nation’s battles and developing quality citizens,” said Maj. John Meixner, the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Harrisburg in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

Many athletes also visited a Marine exposition booth where they spoke with Marines about programs and occupational specialties within the Corps and participated in a pull-up challenge.

“This is a great opportunity for us to introduce individuals to what the Marine Corps is and what we stand for and to challenge [the athletes] mentally and physically,” said Staff Sgt. Ronald Perkins, a recruiter from Recruiting Substation Bucks County in Hartboro, Pennsylvania.

Meixner, and Capt. Daniel Comito, the Officer Selection Officer at Officer Selection Station Philadelphia, presented track and field awards to college athletes who won their respective competitions.

The officers awarded Lissa Labiche, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, who won the College Women’s High Jump Championship by jumping 1.82 meters.

The College Men’s 4x100 meter Championship of America Invitational winners were John Lewis III, Mario Burke, Nicholas Alexander and Cameron Burrell from the University of Houston in Houston. Collectively, they ran 400 meters in 38.95 seconds.

Maj. John Meixner, the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Harrisburg in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, and Capt. Daniel Comito, the Officer Selection Officer at Officer Selection Station Philadelphia, present John Lewis III, Mario Burke, Nicholas Alexander and Cameron Burrell, winners of College Men’s 4x100 meter Championship of America Invitational, their award during the Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania April 28, 2018. Marines partnered with and attended the 124th Penn Relays to foster positive relationships with student athletes and coaches and to educate the track and field community on opportunities within the Marine Corps. The athletes are from the University of Houston. Collectively, they ran 400 meters in 38.95 seconds. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom)
Maj. John Meixner, the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Harrisburg in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, and Capt. Daniel Comito, the Officer Selection Officer at Officer Selection Station Philadelphia, present John Lewis III, Mario Burke, Nicholas Alexander and Cameron Burrell, winners of College Men’s 4x100 meter Championship of America Invitational, their award during the Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania April 28, 2018. Marines partnered with and attended the 124th Penn Relays to foster positive relationships with student athletes and coaches and to educate the track and field community on opportunities within the Marine Corps. The athletes are from the University of Houston. Collectively, they ran 400 meters in 38.95 seconds. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom)
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Student athletes Stofra Cleirigh Buttner, Rachel McArthur, Kelsey Margey and McKenna Keegan from Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania, won the College Women’s 4x800 meter Championship of America Invitational with a collective time of eight minutes and 19 seconds.

Maj. John Meixner, the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Harrisburg in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, and Capt. Daniel Comito, the Officer Selection Officer at Officer Selection Station Philadelphia, present Stofra Cleirigh Buttner, Rachel McArthur, Kelsey Margey and McKenna Keegan, winners of College Women’s 4x800 meter Championship of America Invitational, their award during the Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania April 28, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom)
Maj. John Meixner, the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Harrisburg in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, and Capt. Daniel Comito, the Officer Selection Officer at Officer Selection Station Philadelphia, present Stofra Cleirigh Buttner, Rachel McArthur, Kelsey Margey and McKenna Keegan, winners of College Women’s 4x800 meter Championship of America Invitational, their award during the Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania April 28, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom)
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“[The Marine Corps core values] line up a lot with [my values as an athlete],” said Keegan. “The most courageous are usually the most victorious, and it takes a lot of courage to come out here and lay it all out on the track.”

Marco Arop, Daniel Nixon, Kenya Small and Dejon Devroe of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, won the College Men’s 4x800 meter Championship of America Invitational by running the 3,200 meters in just seven minutes and 14 seconds.

“Every Marine possesses a fighting spirit, and we recognize that there is a fighting spirit within all student athletes competing this weekend to overcome obstacles academically, athletically and for their communities,” said Meixner.

Gutmann proudly stressed the importance of the Corps’ long-standing partnership with the Penn Relays.

“The University of Pennsylvania is so honored to have the Marines be a core sponsor of this event,” said Gutmann. “To have a major part of the U.S. military associate itself so proudly with the Penn Relays is truly a thrill.”

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