PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/24/2015 – It was a great finish to the College Men’s Distance Medley Relay Championship of America at the 2015 Penn Relays. Villanova junior Jordy Williamsz took the lead on the back stretch of the bell lap. He was followed by Edward Cheserek of Oregon who passed Williamsz around the last turn. Williamsz tried to pull out a win down the stretch, but could not. The University of Oregon held on to win the DMR in a time of 9:33.86 defending their 2014 championship. Villanova turned in a time of 9:34.36.
Williamsz felt he gauged the proper time to make his move, but could not put enough space between himself and Cheserek.
“I tried to go quick, but not too quick to spend everything that I had,” said Williamsz. “I moved up through the struggling guys and made a move on the inside. I thought I might be able to hold him off (Cheserek), but he’s good. He’s real good.”
The Villanova team led with Dusty Solis running the 1200 leg. Solis stayed in the front pack, but was passed near the end of his run sending the baton to freshman Ishmael Muhammad in 6th place. Solis turned in a split of 2:57.51. There was a pile up as runners fell to the track in front of Muhammad, but he kept his poise and got out to a clear path.
“Coming in Dusty (Solis) had a clear shot at me, but everybody started bunching around,” said Muhammad. “That’s when I started to get nervous. The exchange could get lost in a crowd of people. That’s when I focused, and got the baton. I’d rather come out a little slow than have something bad happen.”
In the 400 leg Oregon moved out to the lead while Villanova was in the fifth spot as Muhammad covered the distance in 48.42.
Josh Lampron ran the 800 leg for the Wildcats. He ran a time of 1:49.51 and was trying to catch the lead pack. As the baton went to the 1600 runners Columbia was in front with Oregon second, and Villanova third. The race would evolve into a duel between Cheserek and Williamsz.
Cheserek ran a split of 3:59.44 while Williamsz covered the distance in 3:58.94. He challenged Cheserek, but was just a bit behind.
“Our guys ran very well, said Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan. “Jordy ran a great anchor leg but Oregon just has a guy that is really, really good. He has it all. While a second place finish is disappointing, I am happy with how all of our guys ran today.”
The winning Ducks team consisted of Johnny Gregorek (2:56.8), Marcus Chambers (47.9), Niki Franzmair (1:49.75), and Cheserek. Stanford finished third with a 9:37.11 effort. Indiana was fourth running the distance in 9:37.71. Columbia, who had the lead to start the last lap, placed fifth with a time of 9:38.23.
“Like my coach Marcus (O’Sullivan) says, ‘if you get in these things like the Penn Relays and the NCAA’s and you are there, it’s going to go your way eventually,” Williamsz said.
Today was Oregon’s day.
It was another great finish and match for Villanova. The team is experienced with a graduate student and two juniors. For Muhammad it was his first Penn Relays as a member of the Wildcats. The freshman brings with him the newly found experience of being spurred on by the Villanova Southwest Corner rooting section.
“That was amazing,” Muhammad said. “People expect us to win, so to hear that crowd going for us, it’s just huge. It is a real confidence booster.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian
Also competing in the Distance Medley Relay Championship of America were Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, and Penn.
The Hawks of Saint Joseph’s finished in 8th place in 9:43.65. The team consisted of Logan Mohn, Tory Doaty, Steve Butenewicz, and Aaron Leskow.
La Salle placed 10th covering the distance in 9:44.63. Stephen Lewandowski, Justin Guerre, Chris Saunders, and Nick Ross ran for the Explorers.
Finishing in 12th place was the Penn Quakers turning in a time of 9:53.81. Clark Shurtleff, Tom Timmons, Drew Magaha, and Thomas Awad represented the Red and Blue.