PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/30/2016 – The University of Pennsylvania won a Championship of America Wheel at the 2016 Penn Relays taking the 4 x Mile race on the home track at Franklin Field. This was the first Championship of America win for the Quakers since taking the Shuttle Hurdles crown in 1974. The last time Penn won this event was in 1950. Anchor runner Thomas Awad respects the past, and feels this Red and Blue team can begin a new legacy.
“It was awesome, and we talked as a team about how far we have come in the last four years,” said Awad. “It is time to get back to the years when we had those that were on top. Our time is now and we can grow into a top program.”
It was a tight race throughout with six teams having a shot at winning. Iona anchor Liam Dee tried to separate from the pack. On the bell lap Indiana, Georgetown, Penn, and Villanova made a move to stay in contact. Around the final far turn it was Jason Crist of Indiana, Ahmed Bile of Georgetown, and Awad passing Dee. At that point Awad made his move going to the front in the final 60 meters, and crossed the finish line.
“There was a moment that I was thinking ‘I have to go’ and I wanted to have a strong last push,” Awad said. “In the last 150 meters I knew I had to be patient.”
“I trying to keep close and get by them.”
The winning time was 16:26.30. Awad ran a 4:00.3 split. Keaton Naff led off with a time of 4:08. Chris Hatler running the second leg put Penn in front covering the distance in 4:06.7. Nick Tuck turned in an effort of 4:11.3 challenged by Jordy Williamsz of Villanova. Iona would grab the lead at the final baton pass.
Villanova finished fifth with a time of 16:34.64. The Wildcat team consisted of Elliot Slade (4:06.4), Josh Lampron (4:08.4), Williamsz (4:11.2), and Ben Malone (4:08.6).
“The race shaped up the way as expected,” said Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan.
Prior to the race the Wildcats chose to enter the 4 x Mile rather than the 4 x 800.
“It would be a better experience for us,” O’Sullivan said.
Indiana came in second with a time of 16:26.84. Georgetown took third covering the distance in 16:27.52, while Iona was fourth in 16:29.12.
After setting a program record in the Distance Medley Relay on the previous day, Penn adds a Wheel. Coach Steve Dolan appreciates the victory, and more so, how they did it.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” said Dolan. “We talked about this for a few years, and it was a magic moment for all of us. I was excited how we competed and executed. We couldn’t have run a better race. It’s a big moment for Penn Track and Field.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian