The United States may be losing its dominance in the USA vs. The World competition at the Penn Relays but the Americans are as strong as ever in the men’s and women’s 4 x 400m Relays.
The U.S. squads lost three of six races - the most in the nine-year history of the USA vs. The World competition - but ran to convincing victories in the men’s and women’s 4 x 400m Relays before 49,831 on a breezy, overcast afternoon at Franklin Field on Saturday (26 April) as the 114th Penn Relays concluded.
In the men’s 4x400m Relay, U.S. quartets finished 1-2. Jeremy Wariner powered the USA Blue team with a 43.9 anchor leg to lead the quartet which included LaShawn Merritt, Wallace Spearmon and Darold Williamson to a 2:59.71 win.
The USA Red team of Xavier Carter, Bershawn Jackson, Kerron Clement and Angelo Taylor was second in 3:01.12.
In the women’s 4x400m Relay, Mary Wineberg, Allyson Felix, Natasha Hastings and Sanya Richards combined to run 3:22.16 to win by more than five seconds over a Jamaican team that included Sherone Simpson and Novlene Williams (3:27.96).
Both the winning times were the fastest in the World this season.
The U.S. also turned in a season-leader and 1-2 finish in the women’s 4x100. Lauryn Williams, twin sisters Miki and Lisa Barber, and Felix won in 42.57. A team of Muna Lee, Torri Edwards, Carmelita Jeter and Sanya Richards placed second in 42.64
Jamaican men take 4x100 without Powell
The most drama came in the men’s 4x100m Relay where Jamaica defeated a U.S. team anchored by double World champion Tyson Gay despite the absence of World record holder Asafa Powell, who had pulled out with a pectoral strain suffered while weight lifting.
The U.S. team of Leroy Dixon, Wallace Spearmon, Darvis Patton and Gay - the same lineup that won gold in the 2007 World Championships - finished back in fourth after Dixon was struck in the left pupil by Canadian Charles Allen who was running in the adjacent outside lane.
Dixon paused noticeably before resuming but the U.S. never recovered as the Jamaican team of Marvin Anderson, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter and Dwight Thomas won in 39.04 to the delight of boisterous green-clad Jamaican flag-waving supporters.
“By the time that I got the stick, it looked like Jamaica had already crossed the finish line,” Gay said.
Another U.S. team of John Capel, Xavier Carter, Michael Rodgers and Shawn Crawford finished second in 39.14. The Canadian team was disqualified.
“We especially wanted to show that even though we may not have arguably the best sprinter in the world, we could still go there and compete against a very good U.S. team,” Frater said.
Dixon was wearing a large patch over his injured eye afterward and said that his vision was blurry.
“I thought we were racing Mike Tyson,” Spearmon quipped.
Another Jamaican victory in women’s Sprint Medley, Kenya takes men’s Distance Medley
Jamaica handed the U.S. its first loss in the women’s competition in the USA vs. The World series. Nadine Palmer, Aleen Bailey, Sonita Sutherland and Kenia Sinclair combined to win the Sprint Medley Relay (200m-200m-400m-800m) in 3:37.61. A World All-Stars team was second in 3:39.16 and the U.S. was third in 3:41.08.
After Sinclair crossed the finish line after a 1:59.3 anchor, she was embraced by Bailey, who then jumped up and down and grabbed the front of her jersey with both hands to display to the crowd.
“A lot of Jamaicans in the U.S. don't get to see us run throughout the year so we tend to do a little extra to make sure we win for them at this event,” said Bailey, who competed in the Penn Relays while attending Vere Technical High School and a collegian at South Carolina.
“When you look into the stands you see a sea of black, green and gold. The fans are amazing. They give you so much energy, they make you do your best.”
Prior to this year’s meet, the U.S. had only lost three races in the history of the USA vs. The World competition, to Jamaica in the 4x400m Relay in 2005 and Distance Medley losses to Kenya in 2006 and a World All-Stars team in 2007.
The U.S. came up short again in the Distance Medley on Saturday to a Kenyan team of Boaz Cheboiywo (1200m), Thomas Musembi (400m), Jackson Kivuna (800m) and Josephat Kithii (1600m), 9:29.79 to 9:30.66.
Manzano Repeats at College Relay Athlete of the Meet
University of Texas senior Leonel Manzano was named the Relay Athlete of the Meet after anchoring the Longhorns to victories in the Distance Medley and 4 x 1 Mile Relays for the second year in a row. Manzano is the first repeat winner since Kim Collins (SKN) of Texas Christian University in 2000-01.
Jonathan Jackson of TCU earned the honor for Individual Events. Johnson won the Triple Jump at 16.55m for the No. 10 mark in Penn Relays history and tie for the best collegiate mark this season. LaTavia Thomas of LSU was the Female Relay Athlete of the Meet and Kara Patterson was chosen for Individual events.
Thomas, who attended nearby West Catholic High in Philadelphia, ran the 800m anchor on LSU’s winning 4 x 800m and Sprint Medley Relays. Patterson threw 56.10m in the Javelin to move into second on the all-time meet list.
In the high school competition, male honorees were Alwayne Green of Manchester (JAM) and Nicholas Vena of Morristown (NJ).
Green ran a 1:53.0 split in the 4x800m Relay to help Manchester rally for a 7:43.22 win. Vena won the shot put with an all-time U.S. ninth grade record 19.37m.
Saturday’s attendance of 49,831 was the second-highest total for any day and brought the three-day total to 113,302 for the No. 2 mark at Penn.
Candice Davis, the reigning World Indoor 60m Hurdles silver medalist, won the 100m hurdles in 13.02. Kibwe Johnson won the men’s Hammer Throw at 73.77m and Bethany Hart was the women’s winner at 68.58m.
Kirby Lee for the IAAF