PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/26/2013 – The Villanova Men’s Track team took center stage at the Penn Relays in their first championship race of the meet. The Wildcats ran a good race finishing second to Penn State. The Nittany Lions won the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) in 9:24.68 with the Wildcats recording a 9:26.80 time. Oregon took third in 9:27.09. All the schools stayed close throughout the relay forcing each team to adapt to the pace. Villanova made it close at the end, but Penn State was able to finish strong. Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan was pleased with the effort of his team.
“I am happy for them in terms of time,” said O’Sullivan. “I am disappointed for them in terms of not winning. It is important for us to come here and win. We’re in a good state, we’re competitive, we’re mixing it up. There were three great teams out there.” junior Sam McEntee.
“It hurts to come in second, but it was a strong performance,” said Sam McEntee the junior 1200 meter runner for Villanova.
The 1200 leg of the race gave an indication of how the DMR would play out. Penn Sate, Oregon, and Villanova were going to trade the lead. McEntee led off for the Wildcats and was third at the first handoff. Brannon Kidder gave Penn State the lead with a 2:35.5 split. McEntee ran a 2:53.0 leg trailing Mac Fleet of Oregon by three-tenths of a second. Junior Sam Ellison ran the 400 meter leg in 46 seconds good for second place, but still trailed Oregon as Mike Berry turned in a time of 45.3. The 800 meter leg saw Oregon and Penn State getting some separation from Villanova. Casimir Loxsom ran a 1:46.7, but did not catch Oregon as Elijah Greer ran a 1:47.6 split. Junior Chris Fitzsimmons turned in a 1:49.9 effort, but Villanova was still in striking distance as freshman Jordy Williamsz took the baton for the final 1600.
Williamsz was gaining on Penn State and Oregon after the first lap. The race bunched again after the second lap with Penn State taking the lead. Indiana joined the group going into the bell lap. In the final 200 meters Penn State behind Robby Creese. Williamsz passed Jeremy Elkaim and took aim on Creese, but could not overtake the winner. Williamsz ran a 3:58.4 split, the fastest of the 1600 meter runners. Creese turned in a time of 3:58.9 with Elkaim running a 4:01.5 split. Indiana finished fourth.
“He’s a seasoned freshman,” O’Sullivan said of Williamsz. “He’s got great wheels.”
The Wildcats will compete in the 4×1500 and the 4×800 championship races on Saturday.
It was a good effort for Villanova. O’Sullivan was pleased. The runners know that the Penn Relays are a significant event, and their best effort is an example that is followed.
“I want to come back here and win.” said McEntee. “I never won here before.”
“When you walk down the locker room every day you see 20 or 30 wheels (championship medallions). Marcus makes note of it. It is a rich history. I was walking back today, and one of the smaller schools were getting ready. They were getting ancy and the coach said ‘there is Villanova, follow them, they know what they’re doing.’ People know we are here.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian