The Wildcats Emerge Victorious in the Men’s 4 x Mile Championship of America
PHILADELPHIA, PA 4/29/2023
After being denied the previous day in the Distance Medley Relay the Villanova Wildcats came back and earned their 21st Penn Relays Wheel in the 4 x Mile race, the most in this event in the history of the Carnival. A definite case of lessons learned as anchor runner Liam Murphy came back from the back of the lead pack to race to the tape and win over Wisconsin by .21 seconds. In the DMR Murphy was caught in the stretch by Wisconsin. Not this time.
“I like waiting until the end of the race to make my moves,” Murphy said. “I’m definitely comfortable in that situation, and I learned what I did wrong yesterday. I wanted to be in the best spot I possibly could and wait and make my move. That’s what I did and it worked out.”
The race could have belonged to as many as nine teams as they runners came around the track for the final time, and it was that way the whole time around. Murphy stayed patient and made his way to an opening, then sprinted to break the tape. Villanova won with a time of 16:14.03.
“You’re wishing for the unexpected,” said Villanova Coach Marcus O’Sullivan. “And when you see the way it unfolds, it’s unexpected. You’re not picking the winner form 100 out. Nobody is at that point. All I see through the corner of my eye, I knew we were going to work. And for Liam to edge his to the finish line, its just a phenomenal experience for me.”
“I told him to wait and don’t go too early. He was last coming off the top of the turn. For him to manage his way through the field and come out the other end. I saw him edge on the 200 meter mark. I could see him moving. I felt from that angle we were good.”
At the start Villanova the Villanova strategy of getting out fast and staying close to the front paid dividends. But each of the other teams finishing in the top six felt the same way. The Wildcats started fast and stayed that way over the distance.
“You don’t really know if it’s going to be hot or not, so I’d like to stay out of trouble and set up into the front,” said lead runner Sean Donoghue. “Once I saw myself in the front with two laps to go, I was like, I’m going to hold these guys off and give my teammate Charlie (O’Donovan) the best version possible going into the second leg.”
Wisconsin, who won the DMR yesterday, finished second with a time of 16:14.24.
Donoghue led off with a time of 4:01.24. Charlie O’Donovan ran second turning in a 4:01.80 split. Dolan picked up the baton and covered the distance in 4:00.81. Murphy ran a 4:10.20 leg.
The Penn Relays remain a special meet for Villanova. The Wildcats last won this event in 2018. Winning a Wheel still has meaning.
“This is my favorite meet and it’s the best factory in the world,” Dolan said. “It’s an honor to be here. I hope this whole team’s back next year and continue to have this great tradition.”
“This is an incredible, special moment,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s a special place. And considering the platforms I’ve been on with World Championships and Olympic levels, there’s just nothing like this. And I genuinely mean because it gives me a lot of joy to see a bunch of young kids go above and beyond.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian