Usain Bolt Delivers In Front Of Electric Penn Relays Crowd

April 24, 2010
Philadelphia, PA
*Meet Results

Over 54,000 people swarmed Franklin Field Saturday for the Penn Relays, all treated to an unusually energized (and crowded) track & field carnival. As promised, Usain Bolt was the main event of the day. One reporter probably said it best after Bolt anchored his training group to a Penn Relays record 4 x 100m win: "He delivered!"

Striking poses, acknowledging the Jamaican-dominated crowd and, most importantly, running like no human before him, Bolt left his legions of fans mesmerized. Merely striding out on the infield 90 minutes before the race caused an uproar from the packed house. Bolt's teammates, who had been drilling handoffs with coach Glen Mills for over two weeks to prepare for Penn, got the stick around with a slight lead over US anchor Ivory Williams. Bolt, sprinting through deafening cheers from tens of thousands of black, gold and green-clad Jamaican fans, widened the lead and jogged a solo victory lap surrounded by hordes of photographers.

We have to give a Thumbs Up to Bolt, his coaches and managers and the people at Penn Relays for putting on a great show. Setting up a camera to record Bolt's anchor split was a great idea, even if the time is not that meaningful. The announcement of "8.79!" left the crowd buzzing and long-time track observers and statisticians literally scratching their heads.

2010 Penn Relays
Photo: Usain Bolt leads his training group to 4 x 100 win in front of 54,000 fans.

Bolt was the single highlight of Saturday's Penn Relays action, but there were many other noteworthy performances. We highlight our top performers and flops.

Phoebe Wright And Tennessee Women Win DMR, 4 x 1,500, 4 x 800
Phoebe Wright ran 3 excellent races in 3 days to lead Tennessee to a 2nd consecutive perfect weekend at Penn. Wright ran 2:02 for 800 on Thursday in the DMR, ran a close race to the wire with Villanova's Sheila Reid on Friday in the 4 x 1,500 and came back Saturday to outduel LSU anchor LaTavia Thomas on the anchor of the 4 x 800. Leading the entire anchor with Thomas - a 2:01.40 800m runner - directly on her back, Wright simply would not give in. Her 2:00.89 anchor leg was faster than all but two of the women's professionals in the USA vs. The World SMR.

In a meet where most fans don't really care about the race, no matter how fast it is, unless a Jamaican is winning or close to the lead, Wright and Tennessee brought the crowd to their feet two days in a row with dramatic anchor leg finishes. Wright now has 6 Penn Relays watches: 3 from 2009 and 3 from 2010. Tennessee really did make history as it's very rare to sweep the distance relays two years in a row. Very few would have predicted Tennessee could win all three relays again without the help of graduated star Sarah Bowman.

W 4 x 800 Top 3 Results

PL School/Affiliation Mark Athletes ID
1 Tennessee 8:18.22 Kimarra McDonald (2:07.71), Chanelle Price (2:05.33), Brittany Sheffey (2:04.29), Phoebe Wright (2:00.89) AA
2 LSU 8:19.77 Charlene Lipsey (2:06.40), Kayann Thompson (2:05.64), Brittany Hall (2:05.48), LaTavia Thomas (2:02.25) AB
3 Oregon 8:32.40 Chloe Steinbeck (2:11.22), Anne Kesselring (2:04.79), Nicole Blood (2:09.47), Zoe Buckman (2:06.92) AE

LRC Thumbs Up - Wolmer's Boys 4 x 100
Jamaican high school Wolmer's Boys took home the HS boys 4 x 100 championship, but we're wondering if they were in the wrong race. Wolmer's ran so fast (Penn Relays record 39.78) they would have scored 2nd in the University level Championship of America 4 x 100 behind Texas A&M. Not only that, but if you put their time in the USA vs. The World professional races, Wolmer's would have defeated the best from Canada and Germany. See Wolmer's time and the leading times from the college championship below.

HS Champions:

1 Wolmer's Boys   39.78 Odean Skeen, Dwayne Extol, Julian Forte, A-Shawni Mitchell

University Champions:

1 Texas A&M 39.08 Tran Howell, Gerald Phiri, Demetrius Pinder, Curtis Mitchell A
2 UTech 39.88 Winston Barnes, Jacques Harvey, Andre Wellington, Kimmari Roach E

International Teams:

6 Canada Black 39.98 Hank Palmer, Richard Adu-Bobie, Segun Makinde, Tyrone Halstead CAN-B
7 Germany 40.10 Robert Hering, Marius Broening, Alexander Kosenkow, Martin Keller GER

Women's SMR - Kenia Sinclair Runs 1:57 Split ... Again!
In 2009, Kenia Sinclair anchored Jamaica to the Penn Relays Sprint Medley win with a dominating 1:57 anchor. This year it was more of the same, as Sinclair trounced world indoor medalist Alysia Johnson on the anchor of the SMR with a 1:57.48. Sinclair evidently loves to run at Penn, as her fastest open 800 time in the last 2 years is the 1:58.24 she ran in the 2008 Olympic Games to get 6th. If the Olympics were held at Franklin Field, we'd have to go with Sinclair as the 800m favorite. It's worth noting that Anna Willard Pierce just barely got under 2:00 on her anchor leg.

Women's SMR Results

PL School/Affiliation Mark Athletes ID
1 Jamaica 3:35.37 Schillonie Calvert, Kerron Stewart, Melaine Walker (52.5), Kenia Sinclair (1:57.48) JAM
2 USA Blue 3:38.53 Natasha Hastings, Dee Dee Trotter, Sheena Tosta (51.4), Alysia Johnson (2:01.04) USA-B
3 USA Red 3:39.55 Rachelle Boone-Smith, Ebony Collins, Nicole Leach (53.0), Anna Willard Pierce (1:59.98) USA-R
4 Great Britain 3:39.82 Vicky Barr, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohurougu (51.3), Jemma Simpson (2:00.90) GBR
5 Russia 3:40.63 Yulya Katsura, Ekaterina Efimova, Kseniya Vdovina (52.6), Oxana Spasovkhodskaya (2:01.33)
Track and Field: 116th Penn Relays
Photo: In the Collegiate 4 x 800 Championship of America, Wheating and Oregon's hopes were dashed at the line by by Robby Andrews.

Oregon's Presence A Big Boost To Distance Relays
Before we get to the community's most highly-anticipated event of the day (the men's 4 x 800), we want to give a Thumbs Up to Oregon for flying across the country and bringing their best runners to compete at the Penn Relays. It would be easy for the Ducks and their coaches to stay home in Eugene rather than make a multi-day cross-country trip east to compete at Penn. Oregon's presence in the meet made the men's and women's distance relays much more interesting and, especially on the men's side, much more respectable. The Oregon women didn't win a distance relay title but finished in the top 3 in each. The men took two 1st places and a narrow 2nd in the 4 x 8. Six relays, six top-3 performances for Jordan Hasay, Andrew Wheating and the Ducks made the trip well worth it.

College Men's 4 x 8 Showdown - Robby Andrews, Penn Relays Security Guard Come Up Big
UVA freshman Robby Andrews improved his career record vs. Oregon senior Andrew Wheating to 2-0 as he outkicked the 2008 Olympian again on Saturday. Anchoring the highly-anticipated showdown between Oregon, Penn State and UVA, both Wheating and Andrews left Penn State's Ryan Foster in their rear-view mirrors in the final 70m of a close race won in 7:15.38.

Video: College Men's 4 x 800 Championship at Penn Relays.

If you don't want to watch the replay of the anchor leg, we'll give you a recap (if you want to watch it hit play on the video player to the right and then pause. While you keep reading this piece, the video player will start loading and when you're done you'll be able to scroll to the end and watch the anchor. That way you won't have to wait for 8 minutes). Andrews got the baton in the lead with Wheating right on him. Foster made up some ground and caught the leading duo, who ran about a 55-second first 400. Right before the bell, Foster darted past Andrews on the inside and took off in the lead. Wheating went around Andrews and sat on Foster from 350 out to about 100m to go. Andrews, now in 3rd, moved closer with 150 to go, and positioned himself to pounce on Wheating and Foster with perhaps 70m to go. Wheating made his move but Andrews' speed was greater.

At first it looked like Wheating would sit on Andrews the whole race, a reversal of their NCAA indoor positioning. But Foster's mid-race squeeze-through on the inside changed the tactics around and left Andrews on Wheating's shoulder. The splits for Andrews and Wheating were 55, 52 as each ran exactly 1:47.78. Talk about an exciting rivalry.

For UVA and Coach Jason Vigilante, it was a big win. So big, reportedly, that Vigilante - watching from the paddock area - attempted to run on the infield and congratulate the first Penn Relays champions from UVA since 1943. Apparently, a security guard did not deem the event as historically significant as Coach Vig and he tackled the UVA head coach and attempted to keep him in a bear hug. If you have a photo of this episode, contact us.
Talk On The Boards: *Did anyone see Vig get assaulted by security at Penn?

M 4 x 800 Results

PL School/Affiliation Mark Athletes ID
1 Virginia 7:15.38 Alex Bowman (1:50.20), Lance Roller (1:46.67), Stephen Finley (1:50.75), Robby Andrews (1:47.78) AD
2 Oregon 7:15.55 Travis Stanford (1:50.56), Mac Fleet (1:47.64), Elijah Greer (1:49.59), Andrew Wheating (1:47.78) AC
3 Penn State 7:17.02 Owen Dawson (1:49.84), Casimir Loxsom (1:46.58), Lionel Williams (1:51.94), Ryan Foster (1:48.67) AB
4 UConn 7:18.58 Alex Bennatan (1:51.14), Dan Holst (1:50.13), Brian Gagnon (1:48.49), Michael Rutt (1:48.82) AE
5 Tennessee 7:20.63 Terrance Livingston (1:51.13), Joseph Franklin (1:48.37), Emerson Peacock (1:51.02), Peter Sigilai (1:50.13) AI

Men's Professional DMR - Great Race Where Top 3 Finished 0.07 Apart
The fastest men's distance runners at Penn Relays ran in the men's distance medley. On the opening 1,200 leg, we give a Thumbs Up to Aussie Collis Birmingham - a 5,000m specialist - who ran aggressively from the front despite losing his shoe 200m into the leg. Running with one black sock and one white spike, Birmingham pressed on through a 1:54 opening 800 with only Kenya's Alex Kipchirchir following. Thumbs Down to USA 1,200 runners Nick Symmonds and Will Leer, as they both hung way back and let Kenya and Australia go ahead. Symmonds and Leer closed well in the last 200 to run 2:53s, but it was disappointing to see them run so conservatively and not challenge the Kenyan team.

Track and Field: 116th Penn Relays
Photo: Photo finish in men's professional Penn Relays DMR between Manzano, Torrence and Kithii.

Thumbs Up to Kenya's 400 leg Mark Mutai, who battled with American 400 runner Jordan Boase and ran a sub-46 split. At this point, with the Kenyan quarter-miler challenging the American team, we figured there was no way either US team was going to win. If America can't find some 400 legs to put some time between us and Kenya we might as well not enter the DMR.

But the race was far from over. Duane Solomon brought USA White back into contention with the best 800m of the day, a 1:44.28 split that left anchor Leo Manzano right in the hunt for the win. Thumbs Up for Solomon, whose excellent carry was over 1 second faster than Kenyan world champion Alfred Kirwa Yego and half a second faster than world medalist Gary Reed of Canada. John Cook pupil Jacob Hernandez ran a solid 1:46-low for USA Blue.

The final 1,600 leg was memorable because it came down to a huge kick - and we found out that America has a new miler to watch out for in David Torrence. Torrence, gunning for the win alongside Kenyan Josephat Kithii and Manzano, ran a sub-25 final 200 to almost win the race for the USA. Apparently work with new coach John Cook is really paying off for 2009 Puma Mile champ Torrence, who now has a Nike contract and was able to match the kicks of Kithii and Manzano all the way through the finish line.

DMR International Buzz
It seems like Kenya every year can throw a young miler on their anchor and they always find a way to win with a huge kick. Kithii is 19 and has a fairly unremarkable record as a miler. He has a 1-mile PR of only 4:01. He clearly is a phenomenal talent however, as he ran 2:20 for the 1,000 as a 17-year-old. And he came through when he needed to, as the last 200 was sub-25 for all three of the top anchors.

Morocco didn't factor in the race but might have won the relay if their leadoff Hicham Bellami had run better than 2:55. Moroccan anchor Amine Laalou ran the finest 1,600 of the weekend, clocking 3:55.89. Rounding out the intriguing international characters in the distance medley are the Aussie duo of Ryan Gregson and Jeff Riseley. Gregson went out hard to make up a big gap on his 800 leg, but faded badly and only ran 1:47. Riseley couldn't match Laalou's effort to come from behind and ran a 3:59 to leave Australia in 5th.

Track and Field: 115th Penn Relays
Joe Summerlin wins the 75+ 100m race at Penn in 2009.

Amazing: 75-And-Over 100m Sprinters Running 15 Seconds
Do you remember running 30-second 200s back in your college days? How about running that pace when you're 80 years old? The 75-and-over 100m at Penn is always a crowd pleaser and this year was no exception. At age 76, Joe Summerlin of Dallas took the race in an impressive 15.46 while 82-year-old Edward Cox of the Syracuse Chargers also broke the 16-second barrier. Congrats to all of these men just for making it to the start and finish line.


PL ID Athlete School/Affiliation Mark
1 2 Joe Summerlin [76] Dallas Masters 15.46
2 6 Edward Cox [82] Syracuse Chargers 15.94
3 5 Alexander Johnson [76] unattached 16.37
4 1 Walker Palmer [75] Philadelphia Masters 16.83
5 8 Wilton Gordon [80] Glenarden Masters 17.44
6 9 Richard Dillon [77] unattached 18.45
7 7 Bebsie Thompson [77] Florida Athletic Club 21.84
8 11 William Johnson Jr. [79] New Freedom Striders 22.48
9 13 Champ Goldy Sr. [93] Philadelphia Masters 22.49
Video: Tabarie Henry drops the stick then runs amazing anchor leg for Texas A&M.

College Men's 4 x 4 Championship Of America - A&M Drops The Stick But Almost Pulls It Off
Mississippi State went home from Philadelphia with 3 Penn Relays Wheels (4 x 100, 4 x 200, 4 x 400), a difficult task considering the level of competition from schools like Florida and Texas A&M.

But we are fairly confident Texas A&M would have won the men's championship 4 x 4 were it not for a dropped baton on the final exchange. Running even with the Bulldogs, A&M's Tabarie Henry stepped back to pick up the dropped baton and almost caught the MSU anchor after making up at least 20m. Henry's 46.53 closing split was remarkable, but to truly get the feel for how well he ran, watch the race video to the right. It would have been at least a 44-high split.

For full results from Penn Relays click here.


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