PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/27/2018 – The women’s middle distance relay team have been winning titles at the 2018 Penn Relays. The men added to their titles winning the Distance Medley Relay in exciting fashion as anchor Casey Comber ran a split of 3:59.79 in the 1600 meter leg and brought home the Wheel for the first time since 2011. The team covered the distance in 9:34.37 for their 25th Championship in this event, creating another special moment for the Wildcats.
“It means everything,” said lead runner Ben Malone. “When I first committed to Villanova, this is why I came here. I wanted to win at the Penn Relays and be part of the tradition here. It’s been awhile. The last time we won the DMR I was watching from the stands. That inspired me. It means a lot to all of us to add to the legacy.”
In a race with many twists and turns, the outcome was definitely in doubt even within the anchor leg. When Comber took the baton the team was in third place trailing Indiana and Princeton. Two laps into the final leg, Comber found himself in fifth place. When the bell sounded, it was time to make a move.
“I knew I had to go eventually,” said Comber. “When the race packed back up I wanted to be proactive, not reactive, and if I made the first move I would hold everyone off. You never know how it’s going to play out, but when the Notre Dame guy passed me, and I came back in the pack of five. Am I going to wait to get passed again or go? I decided to take matters in my own hands and do what I had to do.”
By winning Comber justified the faith shown in him by Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan who selected the Hatboro Horsham graduate, a local athlete, to be the anchor.
“Special to me is having a local person anchoring,” said O’Sullivan. “For me to see how much grit he had and how tough he is. Winning today with him taking the lead with a quarter to go, I knew I chose the right person to be the anchor. To see him blossom, it’s what the Penn Relays are about.”
The team was made up of Ben Malone running the 1200 in 2:58.34. Freshman Brian Faust ran the 400 leg in 46.48, and Ville Lampinen covered the 800 in 1:49.78. Championships are nice, but O’Sullivan saw growth in a special group that had youth and experience.
“To see them struggle, then come here today to give it all, you watch it all unfold,” O’Sullivan said. “With Casey bringing it home, it’s what we’re here for.”
Notre Dame finished second with a time of 9:35.18. Anchor Yared Nuguse had a best 1600 split time of 3:58.69. Princeton took third hitting the tape in 9:35.34.
The Wildcats will compete in the 4 x Mile on Saturday. And they will have a championship to bring along.
Written By: Glenn Papazian