PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/25/2015 – It was similar to the Distance Medley Relay from the day before in that the race was decided by a stretch run between Jordy Williamsz of Villanova and Edward Cheserek of Oregon. The DMR went to Oregon, but as Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan once said that if you are around long enough, sometimes it goes your way. In this race it did go right for Villanova and Williamsz. In a tactical race, sometimes strangely run, Williamsz caught Cheserek down the stretch to give the Penn Relays 4 x Mile Championship Wheel to the Wildcats who covered the distance in 16:18.07.
“The last leg was basically full of theater; it was full of exciting moments, and their booing and cheering and hooplah and everything, that’s what it’s all about, to me,” said Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan. “It’s the excitement of getting a crowd, it’s entertainment, and you don’t know what the exciting finish is going to be. I just happy, here today, that it fell in our favor, as opposed to yesterday, it didn’t fall in our favor.”
The Wildcats would need a team effort to get in position to win. Each runner was near the four minute mark. Sam McEntee led off with a 4:02 split, followed by Robert Denault who ran a 4:01.4. Patrick Tiernan handed off to Williamsz after covering the distance in 4:01.1.
The Wildcats and the Ducks were shoulder to shoulder to start the anchor leg. Then the race became strategic in nature, maybe strangely so. The pace got slow in the second lap allowing the pack to catch the leaders. Stanford and Georgetown got in contention. But nobody wanted to take the lead slowing to a near walking pace. In the third lap Oklahoma, Penn, and Wisconsin joined the leaders. In the back stretch Wisconsin took the lead.
“So much went on out there,” O’Sullivan said. “Everyone has got there hat in the ring, and when you look at the race and everyone has got a vested interest, to me, that’s what makes it so exciting. When the race opened up and the sprint was on, it’s just a culmination of this exciting moment where you don’t know what’s going to happen, and with 150 to go you still don’t know what’s going to happen.”
This is what happened. In the final back stretch Cheserek bolted through the pack and to the front. Williamsz made his move. He caught Cheserek at the top of the stretch and sprinted down the final straightaway to cross the line first with a split of 4:13.16. Cheserek ran a time of 4:14.5.
“I couldn’t ask for a better spot, right behind Cheserek,” said Williamsz. “He put the brakes on, and the longer that it stayed slow like that, the better it is for me. I’m an 800 guy, I was an 800 guy growing up, so I was trying to stay relaxed. I just tried to stay as patient as I could, even when Cheserek went with 250 to go, that’s what I did yesterday.
Oregon finished second with a time of 16:18.93. Stanford was third recording a time of 16:20.44. Georgetown finished fourth (16:22.50). Penn finished in sixth place in a time of 16:24.57. Thomas Awad ran a 4:00.7 second leg for the Red and Blue.
Williamsz thought he could beat Cheserek if the race went right. He did. and Villanova gets the Wheel in what was a team effort.
“I’m going to get a lot of credit for this, but it’s mostly these guys, right here,” Williamsz said. “It’s a team effort, it’s not just a one man thing. All of these guys are my best mates. I’m so proud of them all, to have put me in the position that they did.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian