Villanova Earns a Men’s DMR Penn Relays Wheel

The Wildcats Earn their 26th Title in the Event

April 26, 2024 –

The Villanova Wildcats took the Penn Relays Men’s Distance Medley championship for the 26th time in meet history, their first since 2018. The race was very strategic as seven teams ran bunched together with all having a chance to win the race. Eventually, it was Villanova anchor runner Liam Murphy who got to the finish line first running the 1600m leg in 3:59.63. Another title for the Wildcats in a difficult race, for planning and executing.

Coach Marcus O’Sullivan has been part of a few of the titles. He sees how tough this race can be to win, but it all fell into place for the Wildcats.

“I always feel like the elements that are there to compete,” O’Sullivan said. “You’ve got to come up with a quarter miler and we had Luke Rakowitz from Texas. I said keep it close. You don’t have to do anything crazy. You got to keep it close. That takes a lot of pressure off an athlete because you don’t have to win their leg. Then we’re down with Dan Watcke. I knew it was going to be a new experience for him. Sean Dolan leading off, and there was a very strategic reason why he was leading. If the race walked for two laps, I needed a guy with speed to cover.”

“And you have to have a very good finisher.”

The race was anybody’s to win. Villanova was ahead after the 1200m leg run by Dolan (3:00.27). Ratkowitz fell to fourth place with a time of (47.67), just over a second behind. The Wildcats were in sixth place after a 1:48.34 by Watcke, but were well in contention as the baton was passed to Murphy for the decisive 1600m leg.

Murphy knew he was in a pack, but comfortable with his position.

“I’d say that caters to my racing strategy,” said Murphy about running in a pack. “I like it when it plays out toward the end. I just got to wait and wait to the end to make my move. The biggest thing for me is to stay calm in a situation like that and trusting that I will be in the right spot when the time comes.”

An he held the lead until the last half lap of the race. In the last 200 meters Georgetown behind Abel Teffra (4:00.51) took a lead. Murphy got it back right away and lengthened the winning margin.

“Maybe he felt he wanted to be in control,” O’Sullivan surmised. “But when you give up that lead, it can be difficult to regain it. He did give it, but he got it back. There is not much time and you’re running out of runway. He was exceptional.”

Georgetown came in second (9:36.37) followed by Virginia, Oregon, Duke, Texas A&M, and Navy. Michigan finished eighth. The top four finishers ran within less than a second of one another.

For Villanova the elements came together today.


Women’s DMR Championship of America History Made

The Wheel in this event goes to Harvard who set the meet and a collegiate record covering the distance i 10:37.55 besting the Penn Relays mark by over ten seconds. Villanova finished in tenth place and was not much of a factor throughout the race.

Harvard fought with Providence and Virginia over the course. The Crimson had Maia Ramsden running the last leg. She is the 1600m NCAA indoor champion. Ramsden took the lead in the last 200 meters and pulled away to earn her school their first Championship of America since 1936.

The team was made up of: Sophia Gorriaran running the 1200m in 3:20.36; Chloe Fair who posted a 53.20 in the 400m leg; Victoria Bossong who covered the 800m un 2:02.54; and Ramsden who ran a 4:21.47, the fastest 1600m split in this event.

 Shannon Flockhard of Providence ran the fastest leadoff (1200m) ever in this event with her 3:15.11.

Written By: Glenn Papazian


Villanova Men’s Distance Medley Relay Team, In order (left to right) Sean Dolan, Dan Watcke, Liam Murphy, Luke Rakowitz. Photo courtesy of Villanova Media Relations.

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