Elaine Thompson sprinted to the finish line to complete a special race Saturday that began the USA vs. The World competition at the Penn Relays, which in turn launched Jamaica to a special day at the 123rd carnival in front of a festive crowd at Franklin Field.
The 47,420 people soaking in the warm temperatures and the buzz that flowed through the old stadium with dueling chants of "U-S-A" and "Ja-mai-ca" saw Jamaica win three relays for the first time in the 18-year history of USA vs. The World and earn a split of the six-event competition.
Thompson, winner of the gold medal in the 100 and 200 meters at last year's Rio Olympics, set the tone in the women's 4x100 relay, coming from behind to pass Americans Miki Barber and Morolake Akinosun and break the tape first in 42.25 seconds.
"She just inspires me, and she shocks the crowd every time," Barber said. "She's wonderful. To see how much she's progressed and how fluid she runs, how powerful she is, I watch her, and I'm supportive of her. She just impresses everybody. The way she ran today was amazing."
The races were part of a jam-packed day of action and fast times at the carnival.
The women's team of Oregon won its third Championship of America relay in the 4x400 in 3 minutes, 24.72 seconds, establishing its third Penn Relays record in the process. The Villanova women completed the distance triple with a victory in the 4x800.
On the men's side, Oregon made it two wins on the weekend by adding the 4xmile to the distance medley it captured Friday. G.C. Foster of Jamaica took the 4x100 after winning Friday's sprint medley.
Jamaica also swept the two 4x400 relays, with Fitzroy Dunkley passing Team USA's Calvin Smith at the finish line to win the men's race in 3:03.14, and Janieve Russell holding off a determined bid from two-time Olympic gold medalist Natasha Hastings for the women's victory in 3:28.32.
Team USA took first place in the men's 4x100 (38.87 seconds) and the sprint medley for men (3:11.45) and women (1:35.59). Wallace Spearmon and Beejay Lee were members of the two winning men's relays.
While some may consider USA vs. Jamaica to be a heated rivalry, Spearmon said there is mutual respect and friendship.
"It's a rivalry on the track," he said, "but as soon as we finish running, a lot of us are really close friends. So I love the [crowd] support they get. Any time anyone is out here representing their country and people are here to watch and support us as a sport and as an athlete, it's a great feeling."
The United States had a mix of veterans and younger runners Saturday. Barber, 36, competed here for Montclair High School and the University of South Carolina before turning pro, and the 32-year-old Spearmon's participation goes back to his collegiate days at Arkansas.
On the younger side, sprinter LeShon Collins, a former Darby resident, and 800-meter man Donovan Brazier are each a year out of Houston and Texas A&M, respectively.
"Donovan's one of the bright young stars in the 800, and I'm a 200-meter runner, so what are the chances that we actually run a relay together?" Spearmon said. "They put the relay together, picked up the young guy. It's his first time here, and he showed no sign of weakness. I'm just really excited that these young guys came out here and showed so much heart."
In addition to being part of the winning 4x100 team, Collins also captured the Olympic Development 100 in 10.11 seconds.