Philadelphia, USAThe University of Tennessee women took another step toward a sweep of the distance relays in the 115th Penn Relays on Friday (24).
The Volunteers clocked a world best in the 4 x 1500m Relay of 17:08.34 with a team of freshman Chanelle Price, junior Phoebe Wright, seniors Rolanda Bell and Sarah Bowman before a crowd of 39,501 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.
The time eclipsed the previous World best of 17:09.75 run by an Australian quartet in 2000.
It was the second victory of the meet for the Tennessee women. On Thursday, Price, Wright and Bowman teamed on the Volunteers’ victorious distance medley relay. The three will run in the 4 x 800m Relay today on the meeting’s concluding day that will be highlighted by the USA vs. The World relay session.
Friday’s performance was the third World best of the season for Tennessee, which twice lowered the global standard in the women’s distance medley relay during the indoor circuit.
“When you go out and race, it’s a whole different attitude,” Bowman said. “The records just kind of happen. It’s that competitive attitude and mindset."
Their World best eclipsed the 2006 American record of 17:18.63, the 1990 collegiate record of 17:18.10 held by Villanova, the Penn Relays and Franklin Field standard of 17:15.62 set by Michigan in 2007 and the Tennessee school record of 17:22.82 run in 1989.
On Friday, the top three teams all ran under the previous Penn Relays record. Georgetown was second in 17:11.80 and Washington was third in 17:14.55.
Ferocious Anchor by Bowman
Tennessee was in fourth place after legs by Price (4:19.5), Wright (4:19.0) and Bell (4:19.6) but Bowman brought the Volunteers back into contention with a 4:10.2 anchor – the second fastest in meet history.
The final 200m was a duel between Bowman and Georgetown’s Maggie Infield, who had dueled on the anchor of the distance medley relay a day earlier. After Infield responded with a challenge by Bowman on the backstretch, Bowman made a decisive move in the final half lap to secure the victory.
“It was like now or never so I just went,” Bowman said. “I was just focused on the girls and picking them off. I felt really strong and definitely had confidence."
So did 800m specialists Price and Wright, who will feel more within their comfort zone in today’s 4 x 800m Relay.
“Mostly it was mental for me,” Price said about the 1500m. “I had the motivation of proving people wrong. People don’t consider me a 1500m runner and didn’t expect us to win."
Price, a 2007 IAAF World Junior 800m finalist, has been making a rapid transition from high school to college this year. During the indoor circuit, Price ran on both of Tennessee’s record-setting Distance Medley Relays.
“I have tried to leave what I have done in high school out of my head for awhile. It’s a whole new world and every single girl is just as good as I am. I try not to think about the expectations that people have for me."
Villanova Wins Men’s Distance Medley
It was also a breakthrough afternoon for Villanova men in the Distance Medley Relay.
The foursome of senior Sean Tulley (1200m), senior Elvis Lewis (400m), sophomore Jason Apwah (800m) and sophomore Matthew Gibney (AUS) won in 9:30.82 to record the Wildcats’ first Championship of America victory since 2001.
It was the 90th all-time relay win at Penn and 23rd in the Distance Medley Relay for Villanova, which had finished third in 2008 and second in 2007.
Gibney ran a 3:58.4 1600m anchor to win a three-man battle with Dorian Ulrey of Arkansas (4:01.1) and Jake Morris of Texas (4:00.3). Arkansas was second in 9:32.79. Three-time defending champion Texas was third at 9:34.90.
Texas A&M Women Win First 4 x 100m Relay Title
Texas A&M won its first relay crown in the women’s 4 x 100m Relay. The Aggies ran 43.10 to win unchallenged after a dropped baton by 2007 and 2008 champion LSU.
The time by juniors Khrystal Carter, Porscha Lucas, senior Allison George (GRE) and sophomore Gabby Mayo gives Texas A&M, which has also run 42.91 and 43.08, the top three collegiate times along with three out of the top four in the world this season.
LSU rebounded from its setback in the 4 x 100m Relay to win the Sprint Medley Relay in 3:47.26. Tennessee won the men’s Sprint Medley Relay in 3:17.77.
Kirby Lee for the IAAF