The ignorant college track fan might think that a relay team with a guy named Steve Slowly is nothing more than one of the multitude of run-of-the-mill college squads that showed up for the Penn Relays last weekend. But the Texas Christian University men's sprint relay team showed a record Saturday Carnival crowd of 48,922 that it is a little bit more than average. The TCU squad -- consisting of Kim Collins, a 100-meter dash finalist in the 2000 Olympic games, fellow Sydney Olympian Lindel Frater and four-time All-American Darvis Patton in addition to Slowly -- won the college Championship of America 4x100 and 4x200 races with ease. No, they didn't set any collegiate records in these races, although both records happened to to be owned by the Horned Frogs from Fort Worth, Texas. In fact, Collins, Frater and Patton were a part of the TCU team that set the collegiate 4x200 record in last year's Relays with a time of 1:19.67. Despite not breaking the record on the track at Franklin Field, the fastest college foursome in the country was not disappointed with its performances last weekend. "We're happy with the way we ran," Patton said. "We can't worry about times, we're running for the win." TCU's times for the pair of wins weren't shabby, either. They set the Relays record in the 4x100 with a time of 38.63, besting the 38.80 time that TCU ran at the Carnival in 1991. Also, their qualifying time of 1:19.71 in the 4x200 was a mere .04 seconds off the record mark they set last year. If the Horned Frogs are to challenge these records next year, it will be with a much different look. Collins, Frater, and Patton are all graduating, much to the dismay of TCU coach Monte Stratton. "You recruit and hope for the best and you try to get the best talent available. but very seldom does a group as talented and as deep as this one assemble on one team in one era," Stratton said. "We'll of course attempt to better it but it will be a very difficult job to try and find a better group, as talented as this group is from top to bottom." The TCU sprint relay team did not steal all the spotlight at the Relays, though. The Stanford men had an Olympian of their own in Michael Stember to help them dominate the distance relay races. The Cardinal won the Championship of America mile relay easily and beat the University of Kentucky by a stride in the 4x800 race. But Stanford didn't win all the distance races. On Friday, a mid-race Achilles injury to Stanford's 800 runner, Jon Stevens, paved the way for Villanova to win the Distance Medley Championship. Ironically, this victory marks the first DMR win at the Relays since 1981 for the Wildcats, when current head coach Marcus O'Sullivan helped the Villanova squad bring home the win as a competitor. In another twist of irony, it was during the 1981 Relays that the Wildcats last wore a black ribbon, then in honor of the passing of long-time Villanova track coach Jumbo Elliott. Last weekend, the team honored the death of former Relays director and Villanova coach Jim Tuppeny by wearing a black ribbon. Tuppeny had previously coached the Penn track team. Perhaps the most impressive team in the relays, though, was the University of Florida. The Gators won a total of five Relays medals. On Friday afternoon, the women's 4x100 team won Florida's first set of watches. Then in the evening, the women's sprint medley squad blew away the competition and won by more than four seconds, while the male Gators beat out the vaunted TCU squad to win the same race. The Gators were hungry for more on Saturday. In a photo-finish race to close out the 2001 Relays, the men snuck by Auburn to win the 4x400 championship. Earlier in the day, the Florida women bested Georgetown and won the 4x800 race. In other races, the LSU women secured their sixth win in eight years in the 4x200 by finishing with their best time ever at the Relays, 1:31.24. Also, the Barber sisters, Lisa and Mikele, helped the South Carolina 4x400 team set a new Carnival record time of 3:28.34. Individually, no one contributed more to their relay teams than Collins of TCU and Erin Merten of Florida, who anchored the winning sprint medley and 4x800 relay squads. They were named the Outstanding College Men's and Women's Athlete for Relays Events, respectively.Comments powered by Disqus
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