Nick Symmonds Runs 1:44.0, Leo Manzano Outkicks Bernard Lagat To Highlight 2012 Penn Relays Distance Action

Oregon, Princeton, Penn State Get More Titles

April 28, 2012

At the Penn Relays, the US vs. the World races get the big attention and national TV coverage (live on NBC this year) each year.

Most people focus on the sprints. There was little drama this year as the US dominated all the sprints, as Jamaica left many of its best runners at home. To read an AFP recap of Saturday, click here.

The highlight for fans every year on the pro side is the men's distance medley relay. It serves as an early season test for some of America's best pro mid-distance runners as they often face their first test of the outdoor season at the carnival atmosphere of Penn. Quick recap below.

At Penn this year was America's best distance runner, recent World Indoor champion Bernard Lagat, America's top two 800m runners, Nick Symmonds and Khadevis Robinson, 2012 US indoor mile champion Leo Manzano, plus Oregon Track Club teammates Tyler Mulder and Russell Brown. Not to mention international stars Ethiopian Mohammed Aman (the only guy to beat David Rudisha since 2009), Kenyan Alfred Yego (former World 800m champ who ran 1,600 here), young Australian miler Ryan Gregson, and Canadian Nate Brannen.

The US had two teams, a red team with Tyler Mulder on the opening 1,200 leg, and a blue team with 3:51 miler Russell Brown on the opening leg (The DMR starts with a 1,200m leg, is followed by a 400m, then an 800m, then a 1,600m anchor.)

Former NCAA indoor 800m champ Mulder has been running some longer distances this year (3:42.53 1,500m last weekend) and that showed on the opening leg. He and Russell Brown pulled away from the field the last 100m and handed off essentially together (2:52.8) as every other team was at least a second back.

The Red team regained the lead on the next leg thanks to Michael Tinsley's 45.8 400m and that meant Nick Symmonds got the stick a few meters ahead of his 800m nemesis Khadevis Robinson. Symmonds had run some outdoor races last month in Australia while this was Robinson's 2012 debut.

Robinson hung close to Symmonds for the first 250m with Canada's Andrew Ellerton (former NCAA champ at Michigan) the only other runner close. Then Symmonds started pulling away. What was wrong with Khadevis?

Nothing. Symmonds had blitzed a 49.4 first 400m. He only extended his lead around the bend and the backstretch. Canada's Ellerton and Kenya's Antony Chemut now caught up to Robinson in third with Chemut passing Robinson. Symmonds was flying in front and would end up splitting a very impressive 1:44.0 leg.

Robinson started his kick for home with about 200m to go and slightly closed the gap but Symmonds was way in front, handing off to Bernard Lagat roughly 1.8 seconds ahead of Robinson handing off to Leo Manzano.

More Photos Here

The other teams were further back. With Lagat nicely in front we wouldn't have blamed you for thinking this thing was over. Think again.

Lagat ran a quick 57.0 on the first lap to extend his lead slightly over Manzano. A 60.0 on the next lap let Manzano bridge the gap and around the next turn it was only a matter of when Manzano would catch Lagat. It happened on the backstretch, and they started to settle in for the final kick. The 3rd 400 was a 61.8 and that let Ethiopia's Aman Mote catch up as well, as Lagat, Manzano, and Mote were together at the bell. Mote had been way, way back at the handoff - in 5th place, 5.7 seconds behind Lagat. Mote split 54.4 for the first 400 and then gradually closed the gap after that.

On the backstretch of the final lap, Lagat was on the rail with Manzano on his shoulder and Mote behind Manzano. Then Mote surprisingly made the first move. He kicked hard from third past Manzano and then up alongside and then in front of Lagat. This boxed in Lagat, as Mote was on the rail and Manzano outside of him going around the final bend. The straightaways at Penn are shorter than a normal track, so being in front can be an advantage.

Right before Mote hit the final straight, Manzano passed him on the turn. Mote had clearly made his move and had nothing left after having made up so much ground. Lagat was now in chase of Manzano. Manzano was too good the final stretch and he held off Lagat for the win with Mote third.

Leo had split 3:54.9 to Lagat's 3:57.2 with Mote getting the fastest split of the day in 3:53.3 (with a running start and this being 1,600m instead of a mile, add at least 2 seconds - maybe 2.5 - to convert to an open mile). Ryan Gregson had the next fastest split of 3:55.6.

1 USA Blue 9:19.31 Tyler Mulder (2:52.8), David Neville (46.7), Khadevis Robinson (1:44.9), Leo Manzano (3:54.9)
2 USA Red 9:19.88 Russell Brown (2:52.9), Michael Tinsley (45.8), Nick Symmonds (1:44.0), Bernard Lagat (3:57.2)
3 Ethiopia 9:21.42 Tesfaye Cheru (2:56.6), Bereket Desta (46.4), Mohammed Aman (1:45.2), Aman Wote (3:53.3)

Canada Black

9:23.34 Matt Lincoln (2:54.0), Tremaine Harris (46.0), Andrew Ellerton (1:47.1), Nate Brannen (3:56.2)
5 Australia 9:24.76 Jordan Williams (2:53.8), Matt Lynch (47.4), Lachlan Renshaw (1:48.0), Ryan Gregson (3:55.6)
6 Kenya 9:25.51 Jackson Kivuva (2:53.9), Alphas Kishiyoan (47.4), Antony Chemut (1:44.9), Alfred Kirwa Yego (3:59.3)
7 Morocco 9:27.80 Abdelhadi Labali (2:56.6), Maroune El Maadadi (47.2), Mouhcine El Amine (1:46.2), Soueiyvan Boukantar (3:57.8)
8 Canada Red 9:36.72 Kyle Smith (2:55.3), Mike Robertson (46.2), Geoff Harris (1:48.40), Peter Corrigan (4:06.8)

*Photos And More Results


Manzano outkicking Lagat was a surprise but the most impressive performance was Symmonds' 1:44.0 split. Sure, he had a running start but it was a solo 1:44.0. Symmonds' run immediately lit up the boards. Robinson's 1:44.9 in his first race of the year was very impressive in its own right.

Mo Farah and a lot of 5,000m runners saw a vulnerable Bernard Lagat on Saturday. Before they wonder if Father Time has caught up with Lagat, they must remember that Lagat won the World Indoor 3,000m title last month. Father Time will catch Lagat eventually, but there is no way he caught him in a month. Chalk this one up to being Lagat's first outdoor race of the year, no doubt after a down period after World Indoors.

On The Boards: nick symmonds 1:44 flat 800m split


College Action: Oregon, Princeton And Penn State (With Robby Creese On Anchor) Get More Titles

In the collegiate action, the Oregon women came into Penn with zero titles and they left with two after winning the women's 4 x 800 on Saturday to go along with their 4 x 1,500 win on Friday.

This one was a dominant victory for Oregon as they led after all four legs.

Claudia Francis got Oregon in the lead (2:08.6), Laura Roesler blew it open (2:04.5), Becca Friday maintained it (2:06.3) and Anne Kesselring (2:04.7) had more than enough to finish comfortably in front of Tennessee, which got the fastest split of the day by Chanelle Price (2:04.2) on the anchor.

The Duck women may be known for Jordan Hasay, who skipped Penn to run the 5,000m at Stanford tomorrow. Hasay has very little chance to make the Olympics, so we were surprised not to see her at Penn. Clearly the Oregon mid-d ranks are great without her and now they have two Penn watches. *Full Results With Photos

A day after kicking Princeton to the DMR win, Donn Cabral was back kicking Princeton to a win in the 4 x Mile as his 3:59.9 narrowly got the Tigers their third Penn title in two years, as they edged Ivy League rivals Columbia and Kyle Merber by .07. *Full Results With Photos

On The Boards: Penn 4xmile

In the 4 x 800, Penn State put Casimir Loxsom on the third leg and used him to get the lead. That left freshman Robby Creese on the anchor for Penn State. Creese is a name to watch. Only a 1:54 guy in high school, this year he has already run 3:58.9 and 1:48.6 indoors.

Creese pushed hard on the backstretch of the last lap to open a lead. Coming around the bend, the chasers were closing and that included 1:45.06 man Elijah Greer of Oregon. Creese, however, had left something in the tank for the final straight and he was able to hold off Greer with ease. It was Penn State's second title as they won the sprint medley with ease on Friday.

Texas A&M's Joey Roberts had the fastest split of the day - 1:47.9 on the second leg.
*Full Results With photos

More: *AFP recap of Saturday
*nick symmonds 1:44 flat 800m split
*Penn 4xmile


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