PHILADELPHIA, PA 4/27/2012 – The College Men’s Distance Medley Relay has been a great source of success for the Villanova men’s track team. The Wildcats have claimed the championship twenty four times at the Penn Relays, and were the defending champions. This year the team finished in sixth place less than a second behind first place Princeton. The race was run in a pack for most of the distance, difficult for anybody to break free. Princeton anchor runner on the 1600 meters Donn Cabra held off the pack in the last 200 meters to win for the Tigers in a time of 9:42.45. Villanova finished in sixth place in 9:43.28. The Wildcats, who are almost expected to win this race, fielded a young team consisting of a freshman, 2 sophomores, and a junior. Coach Marcus O’Sullivan was pleased his team was right there at the end.
“It’s a curse, and it’s as good as it gets,” said O’Sullivan who has a young and inexperienced team. “The expectations we have on the kids is enormous. It’s a great learning experience to be in the mix. It’s a disappointment, but it was pure entertainment.”
The experiences learned by the young Wildcats is how to run a race in such a tight pack. Freshman Rob Denault ran the 1200 meter leg posting a time of 2:59.9. Denault was fourth when he passes the baton to Junior Carlton Bowers running the 400 meters. Bowers was in fifth running the distance in 48 seconds. Sophomore Samuel Ellison covered the 800 in 1:48.9 bunched with a foursome of Oklahoma, Princeton, Columbia, and Oregon. Sophomore Sam McEntee ran the anchor leg. As the 1600 meter leg progressed there were a dozen team with just 2 laps to run. He could not break through, no team could.
“At the end of the first lap every team was in it,” said McEntee. “It got faster, and in the last 400 meters it really picked up.”
“With the energy it was tough to push guys around.”
The youthful team also learned how to deal with the emotion of running in the Penn Relays. As McEntee rounded the first turn he got a lift from the Villanova rooting section cheering him on. McEntee heard the chant of ‘let’s go ‘Nova’ and it was a motivating factor.
“It’s better for us than it is for the other teams,” McEntee said. “The last 300 meters they (the crowd) picked it up and having them cheer was a help.”
Indiana finished second in 9:42.68, followed by Binghamton (9:43.08), Oregon (9:43.11), and Columbia (9:43.21).
Lessons learned for the Wildcats. They are young and will be around as they learned from this day. O’Sullivan felt that his team was right there, just a few short steps away.
“”They did their job,” said O’Sullivan. “You learn it’s a 200 meter race. It’s anybody’s race at that point.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian