While Bolt, the international track superstar, dominated with his presence from the time he was first spotted in the infield to his departure through crowds of adoring fans more than two hours later, a number of athletes did their part to make the 116th annual carnival memorable.
In addition to Wright, there were the women of Texas A&M, which made its third victory of 2010 a collegiate and meet record in the 4x200; the second win of the weekend by the Oregon men, this time in the 4xmile; a double in the men's 4x200 and 4x400 by Mississippi State; and the first Championship of America victory by Virginia since 1943.
And the "USA vs. the World" competition delivered as well, with Bolt anchoring Jamaica Gold's 4x100 team to a carnival record of 37.9 seconds, and Allyson Felix participating on two winning U.S. relay teams, including an anchor leg on the women's 4x400.
Wright, who anchored all three of Tennessee's victories, outkicked LSU's LaTavia Thomas, a graduate of nearby West Catholic High, to gain the three-peat. The two runners were nearly stride for stride before Wright powered to victory in 8 minutes, 18.22 seconds.
"We raced to win all three races, and we put it out there," Wright said. "It's really special to have four people who are willing to lay it on the line day in and day out in every race. I'm proud to bring it home for them."
Easton (Pa.) High grad Chanelle Price, who was part of two victories this year and five over the last two years, called Wright an "incredible" teammate.
"Every time she gets the stick to anchor, you're very confident that she's going to win," Price said. "She has so much heart. When I saw her get a little bit into the lead, something inside me said, 'We've got this.' "
The Texas A&M women's teams continued their domination of the sprint relays, finishing off a 4x100-4x200 double for the second straight year with a record time of 1:29.42 in the 4x200.
"I knew we had a chance at getting it," anchor Porscha Lucas said. "I was just focusing on finishing the race, and then after that happened, the record came."
The Aggies also established a Penn Relays and collegiate record Friday in the 4x100-yard shuttle hurdle relay.
The Oregon men entered the 4xmile with four runners who had broken four minutes for the distance. None of them did so Saturday, but they finished first comfortably in 16:15.14.
"There was a lot of talk about fast times," said anchor Matthew Centrowitz, who with Mac Fleet participated on both of the Ducks' winning teams at Penn. "In our minds, our main goal was to come here and win."
Mississippi State capitalized in the men's 4x200 when Demetrius Pinder of Texas A&M, the fastest team in qualifying, slowed down on the third leg because of tightness behind his left knee. Tavaris Tate anchored the Bulldogs to victory in 1:21.49.
"The crowd was into the race," said Tate, who later ran the fastest leg (45.2) on the Bulldogs' winning 4x400 team that crossed in 3:04.92. "We just had to keep our heads focused."
Virginia rode the excellent anchor leg of freshman Robby Andrews, the NCAA indoor champion at 800 meters, to nip Oregon in the 4x800. The Cavaliers posted a time of 7:15.38, 0.17 ahead of the Ducks, to win for the first time since their 1943 shuttle hurdle relay team emerged victorious.
Three of the six "USA vs. the World" races went to the United States: the women's 4x100 (42.74) and both 4x400 relays (men, 3:00.60, and women, 3:26.12). Felix, a three-time world champion at 200 meters, ran on the 4x100 team and came back 21/2 hours later to run a 50.70-second anchor leg in the 4x400.
"The crowd was amazing as always, and the rivalry with Jamaica makes it extra special," Felix said. "So it was just a really good day today. We knew Jamaica had an amazing team [in the 4x100]. So we had extra motivation, and that was very, very exciting."
Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or email@example.com.