Penn Relays Friday recap
M. Track wins 4x400 Heps, Stanford sets 4x1500 record
April 28, 2006, 5:00 am·
Arianna Lambie wasn't going to let Marina Muncan catch her again.
One day after the Serbia & Montenegro native passed the Stanford junior on the back stretch to give Villanova a win in the distance medley relay, Cardinal anchor Lambie held off Muncan in the final leg of the 4x1500-meter Championship of America.
The win was Stanford's third straight in that event at the Relays, as the team of Amanda Trotter, Lauren Centrowitz, Katy Trotter, and Lambie finished in 17:18.63.
Stanford enjoyed an advantage right from the beginning, as Amanda Trotter grabbed a 9.2 second lead over Villanova's Akilah Vargas in the first leg. Strong middle legs from Ioana Parusheva and Frances Koons closed Villanova within three seconds going into the anchor leg.
For the first 200 meters, it looked like Muncan was going to deny Stanford a second time. But Lambie put the race away with a 4:15.3 split.
"I was prepared for any scenario," she said.
As Lambie cruised to the finish line, the public address announcer revealed that Stanford's time was good for an American record.
"I heard it at the very end," Lambie said of the announcement of her record-setting time. "But I wasn't thinking about that ... I was thinking about not losing the win."
But it wasn't all bad for Villanova. Its 1990 collegiate record, set at the Penn Relays, still stands by less than a second because one of the members of that team was Irish.
Later on Friday afternoon, everyone was talking about distance powerhouse Arkansas and defending champion Michigan prior to the men's distance medley relay.
Everyone except Texas, that is.
A strong kick in the last few hundred meters by Leo Manzano proved to be the winning move as Texas won the DMR for the first time ever.
"Everyone [on Texas] knew we were going to win," leadoff runner Jake Morse said.
Morse could have fooled any of Friday's record-large crowd, though; the race was tight the entire way. As many as six or seven teams were in the lead pack in the opening legs before Texas, Arkansas and Michigan emerged from the group. Arkansas' Josphat Boit drove ahead to take the lead with two laps to go, but Manzano mounted a late bust and held off the hard-charging Kenyan on the final straight.
"I wasn't going to look behind me," Manzano said.
If he had, he would have seen Boit less than half a second behind him. But he wouldn't have seen several of the other favorites that could keep up in the final 1600 meters, including Stanford, Villanova and Ohio State, which finished ten seconds off the pace.
In an event where a handful of schools have dominated over the past several years, many were surprised to see a school known largely for sprinting take a plaque. But Texas associate head coach Jason Vigilante said that his school was more than happy to expand its resume.
"It's all about being a complete team," Vigilante said. "We've got a collegiate record holder in the heptathlon, a 7-7 high jumper, 64-foot shotputter ... I think we have a very, very complete team."
For the home team, it was a day of mixed, but mostly positive, results. The highlight of the day was the Penn men's track team's thrilling victory over Princeton in the 4x400m Heptagonal race.
Quakers anchor Sam Shepherd held a sizeable lead heading into the final leg, but Princeton anchor Richard Stewart gave a furious chase and narrowed the gap to a few steps in the home stretch. But Shepherd was able to hold on, and Penn edged out its rival in so many sports by 0.19 seconds -- 3:12.55 to 3:12.74.
Both teams qualified for Saturday's IC4A race, the second tier behind the Championship of America.
For Penn coach Charlie Powell, the result was what he expected.
"We knew we were one of the top three teams in it," he said. "Richard Stewart ... is very good; Sam, even though he's a freshman, he's an unbelievable athlete."
And as for that rivalry, Powell said it's as strong on the track as it is next door at the Palestra.
"Is there a rivalry between the [New York] Yankees and Boston Red Sox?" he quipped.
The busiest man on the Penn team today was probably sophomore David Whitehurst, who competed in three events -- the shuttle hurdles, the 110m hurdles, and the first 200m leg of the sprint medley.
In the shuttle hurdles, Penn finished fourth in its heat and last overall with a time of one minute, 3.40 seconds. The Quakers were one of three teams that suffered falls in the heat, along with Penn State and Clemson, which was disqualified. Tennessee won the heat and the Championship of America with a time of 55.87 seconds.
In the 110m hurdles, Whitehurst finished fourth in his heat in 14.26 seconds. That was his personal best for the year by three-tenths of a second, and it was the 13th best overall time.
"I'm not satisfied, [but] I'm okay with it," he said.
Then came the 200m sprint in the last collegiate event of the day, and Whitehurst admitted he was not so familiar with that kind of running.
"I know hurdles. I don't know sprints," he said.
He added, though, that he has been doing some 400m runs recently, so he did not have too much trouble making the transition to the shorter distance.
Finally, the high school result of the day was from the Holmwood Tech girls 4x400m team. The Jamaican powerhouse won the Championship of America in that event, giving it a clean sweep of the girls' 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 titles.
The day's announced attendance was 39,943, the largest Friday crowd in Penn Relays history.