A Fan’s Guide To The 2015 Penn Relays: Can Anyone Stop Oregon And Edward Cheserek Or Stanford And Elise Cranny?

by LetsRun.com
April 22, 2015

(Discuss Penn in this threaed on our fan forum: Official 2015 Penn Relays Live Discussion Thread)

The 2015 Penn Relays take place Thursday through Saturday at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A schedule with entries for all events is here. The Penn Relays website — thepennrelays.com — has articles on the event as well.

This year, with the World Relays taking place next week, there are no USA vs. the World distance races (there are still USA vs. the World races in the sprints) so we at LetsRun.com are fully focused on the collegiate action. We preview the mid-d Championship of America relays for the collegians for you below (4 x 800, 4 x 1500/mile, and DMRs) — women, then men.

On the women’s side, the big question at Penn is, “Can Chris Miltenberg‘s Stanford squad with superstar frosh Elise Cranny sweep all of the distance relays, a feat that has only been done by Villanova (five times), Tennessee (twice) and North Carolina (in 2003) in the past?” Villanova did it last year with Emily Lipari anchoring in all three races.

Article continues below player.

On the men’s side, the question is can anyone stop Oregon and Edward Cheserek?

Walt Murphy‘s Penn Relays short previews of the women’s distance events are here (4×800, 4×1500, DMR). His short preview of the men’s distance events are here (4×800, 4xMile, DMR).

The TV schedule is as follows (all times Eastern)

Saturday, April 25 – 12:30pm – 3:00pm – NBC Sports Network

USA vs. the World at the Penn Relays – Saturday, April 25

12:38 p.m. – BMW Men’s 4×100
12:50 p.m. – Nike Women’s 4×100
1:15 p.m. – College Men’s 4xMile Championship of America
1:40 p.m. – College Men’s 4×100 Championship of America
1:50 p.m. – High School Boys’ 4×100 Championship of America
2:00 p.m. – BMW Women’s 4×200
2:10 p.m. – USATF Men’s 4×200
2:25 p.m. – College Women’s 4×200 Championship of America
2:35 p.m. – Nike Women’s 4×400
2:52 p.m. – Nike Men’s 4×400

All other stuff can be watched for via Flotrack Pro, which doesn’t offer a no-commitment way of watching the meet. You must subscribe to Flopro to watch it and that costs $19.99 per month recurring (so basically $240 per year, unless you remember to cancel or want to pay $150 upfront for a full year). You can access it here.

Since Penn and Drake are going on at the same time, we’re providing the Drake Relays TV schedule for you as well. Our Drake Relays preview will soon be here (coming out Thursday).

Drake Relays (all times Eastern)
Friday, April 24 – 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Universal Sports/USATF.TV
Saturday, April 25 – 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – USATF.TV
Saturday, April 25 – 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – NBCSN
Saturday, April 25 – 5:00 p.m. – The Cool Down on USATF.TV

Thursday 5:30 p.m. ET – Women’s DMR *Entries

Arkansas won the women’s DMR at NCAAs indoors but they aren’t at Penn. Runner-up Stanford was clearly the next best team and thus the team to beat here. At the 2015 NCAA indoor meet, Stanford beat third-placer Michigan by nearly five full seconds (4.98) and Stanford was more than 10 seconds better than all other teams in the field.

Now that doesn’t count Villanova which got the DQ’d at NCAA indoors. But Villanova only crossed the line eighth in the race.

Angel Piccirillo ran a great 1200 leg for Nova at NCAA indoors but Cranny is way better than their anchor, plus Nova isn’t nearly as good as Stanford at 400 (56.95 leads the team this year for Nova, 53.54 leads Stanford).

The question thus becomes what can UNC do in the DMR. They didn’t compete in the DMR indoors. The times they’ve put up this year are decent but again they aren’t beating Stanford unless something unusual happens:

UNC Women’s Top Times Outdoors
400 Dunston, Cierra – 55.05
800 Whelan, Elizabeth JR-3  – 2:05.54
1500 Farber, Lianne SR-4 – 4:13.16
1500 LeHardy, Annie SR-4 – 4:13.76

LRC Prediction: Stanford FTW.

Friday 1:20 p.m. ET – Women’s 4 x 1500 *Entries

Stanford has three of the top 21 1500 runners in the country as senior Jessica Tonn, freshman superstar Elise Cranny and sophomore Rebecca Merhra all ran 4:18 at the Cal-Stanford meet.

Considering Cranny ran 4:10 last year and Mehra 4:17, it’s certainly easy to see why they will be hard to beat. The fourth expected runner, Claudia Saunders, isn’t too shabby herself. She ran 4:21 at the Cal-Stanford meet and has 2:02 800 speed.

That’s not to say there aren’t some good challengers. Murphy focuses on defending champion Villanova but we will focus on North Carolina coached by Mark VanAlstyne.

Check out the seasonal bests of the UNC women (courtesy of TFRRS).

Farber, Lianne SR-4 4:13.16 Virginia Challenge 04/17/15
LeHardy, Annie SR-4 4:13.76 Virginia Challenge 04/17/15
Whelan, Elizabeth JR-3 4:18.73 Virginia Challenge 04/17/15
Rempel, Karley JR-3 4:20.36 Virginia Challenge 04/17/15

All of those are PBs except for Whelan, who ran 4:15 last year.

On paper, Stanford and UNC may be a step above the likes of Georgetown and Villanova.

Georgetown’s seasonal bests

Chambers, Madeline SR-4 4:20.47 Virginia Challenge 04/17/15
Pierce, Haley SO-2 4:22.74 Virginia Challenge 04/17/15
Southerland, Sabrina SO-2 4:22.83 2015 Colonial Relays 04/02/15
Martin, Heather SO-2 4:22.91 2015 Colonial Relays 04/02/15

The Hoyas also have Katrina Coogan (4:13.63 pb), though she hasn’t run a 1500 yet this year.

Villanova’s seasonal bests

Schappert, Stephanie SR-4 4:17.25 2015 Colonial Relays 04/02/15
Piccirillo, Angel JR-3 4:18.21 2015 Colonial Relays 04/02/15
Cleirigh Buttner, Siofra FR-1 4:22.56 2015 Colonial Relays 04/02/15
Armstrong, Nicole FR-1 4:31.75 Larry Ellis (College) 04/17/15

LRC Prediction: Stanford FTW.

UNC’s seasonal bests may be the best but Farber and LeHardy didn’t even make NCAAs indoors, nor were either of them an All-American in cross country. Good luck beating Elise Cranny, who ran 4:10 last year and was 12th at NCAA XC in her rookie campaign.

Saturday 4:10 p.m. ET – Women’s 4 x 800 *Entries

This is the one women’s distance race where it’s not clear that Stanford will win. Look at the seasonal bests of the top teams so far this year:

Schappert, Stephanie SR-4 2:05.22
Piccirillo, Angel JR-3 2:05.45
Cleirigh Buttner, Siofra FR-1 2:06.76
Armstrong, Nicole FR-1 2:11.24
Total 8:28.67

Baker, Olivia FR-1 2:06.50
Saunders, Claudia JR-3 2:06.59
Cranny, Elise FR-1 2:08.26
Waschmann, Malika SO-2 2:09.11
Total 8:30.46

Donaghu, Piper FR-1 2:07.04
Martin, Heather SO-2 2:07.35
Coogan, Katrina JR-3 2:07.53
Walsh, Kristen SR-4 2:09.91
Total 8:31.83

So based on that, it’s kind of anyone’s race. However, relays come down to anchors and should anyone doubt Stanford? Casual fans may not realize but anyone at Penn Relays in either of the past two years should know that Stanford also has a superstar frosh not named Elise Cranny. The Stanford media guide says all you need to know about Olivia Baker – “[she] ran a spectacular 4×800 anchor split of 2:02.55 at the 2014 Penn Relays, chasing down three runners and making up 50 meters to catch the leader on the final lap as the crowd rose in disbelief.”

Baker starred at Penn Relays as a junior as well, running a “breathtaking” 2:09.9 to get the win as well. She was the high school athlete of both meets.

But college competition is way tougher than high school. And the 4×800 is on Saturday — so it would be the third day of racing for someone like Elise Cranny. Will Stanford go all out or perhaps rest some of their guns?

LRC Prediction: Asking us to predict this before we know who is running is kind of like asking someone to pick a baseball game winner before knowing who the starting pitcher is. If Stanford runs everyone, we think they get the job done. If not, Villanova FTW.

Friday 2:30 p.m. ET – Men’s DMR *Entries

Is there any reason to talk about the biggest distance relay of them all on the men’s side? The way we see it, Oregon’s Edward Cheserek pretty much wins everything he competes in and he’s almost certain to get the anchor duties here.

Oregon celebrates DMR win last year via @thepennrelays Oregon celebrates DMR win last year via @thepennrelays

Stanford’s Sean McGorty is a special freshman but does anyone really think an American-born true frosh like McGorty is going to beat an older Kenyan-born Cheserek? No.

Penn Relays is always VERY important to Villanova and indoors at NCAAs, Cheserek didn’t have the fastest leg on the anchor. That honor belonged to Villanova’s Jordy Williamsz who split 3:55.46. The problem is he got the stick way back. We’d love to see Williamsz, who ran 3:36 before even coming to Villanova, against Cheserek in a fair fight. But that’s unlikely to happen as the DMR does include a 400. Nova’s best time in that is 49.06 this year. Oregon has a guy who has run 46.47.

The only saving grace for Nova is it’s expected to be very windy once again at Penn on Friday. Maybe the 17 mph winds make it so the anchor legs bunch up and Williamsz gets back into it? But he’ll have to work harder than Cheserek just to be with the lead pace heading into the bell. Then we expect history to repeat itself:

LRC Archive from 2014: Edward Cheserek Wows The Penn Relays Crowd – Turns On Jets In Final 300 And Gives Oregon A Resounding Victory In Men’s DMR

In case you didn’t realize it, that’s our prediction. Oregon FTW.

Saturday 1:15 p.m. ET – Men’s 4 x Mile *Entries

Ok let’s start by saying, “Stop, we don’t want to hear about talk of a sub-16 4 x mile.” It’s not happening. Zero chance. LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson will personally give away $1,000 if it does happen.

Penn Relays is almost always windy. 17 mph winds are forecast for Thursday and Friday. The men may get a break as only 9 mph winds are scheduled for Saturday. But 9 mph is far from Stanford-like conditions and it would take Stanford-like conditions with guys fresh for a college team to break 16. The rule of thumb we use for Penn is add up their recent times and add ten seconds to it to figure out what they can run at Penn Relays on a great day.

Yes, three of the legs get a running start in a 4 x mile which helps. But they are often running alone, without competition and into the wind. Do you think a guy who can time-trial a 4:00 mile in perfect conditions indoors with a rabbit can run 4:00 in the middle of a windy day from the front simply because he gets a running start? We hope not as we like to think our visitors are pretty darn smart.

Here are the seasonal best times for Villanova, Stanford and Oregon so far this year at 1500 converted to the mile.

Williamsz, Jordan JR-3-  3:57.09
Denault, Robert JR-3 – 3:58.44
Lampron, Josh SO-2 – 4:00.66
Solis, Dusty SR-4 – 4:00.74
McEntee, Sam SR-4 – 4:01.38
Tiernan, Patrick SO-2 – 4:03.46
Top 4 Times – 15:56.93

McGorty, Sean FR-1 – 3:58.27
Olson, Erik SR-4 – 4:00.09
Brinkley, Justin JR-3 –  4:01.44
Keelan, Jack FR-1 – 4:03.14
Top 4 Times – 16:04.94

Franzmair, Niki FR-1 – 4:00.28
Gregorek, Johnny SR-4 – 4:01.30
Warren, Trent JR-3 – 4:02.03
Alexander, Colby SR-4 – 4:02.60
Watson, Cole SR-4 – 4:03.62
Winn, Daniel SR-4 – 4:03.99
Top 4 Times – 16:06.61

So add ten seconds to that and you are lucky to get a sub-16:10.

Yes, we know those aren’t the guys running for Oregon. But it’s almost irrelevant to us who is running for Oregon. We don’t think the best four guys from Oregon’s indoor squad would be able break 16:00 at Penn:

Oregon’s Top Mile Times Indoors in 2015

Cheserek, Edward SO-2 3:56.43
Gregorek, Johnny SR-4 3:57.47
Winn, Daniel SR-4 3:57.62
Geoghegan, Will SR-4 3:58.36

Top 4 Average 15:49.88.

Yes, if you add 10 seconds to what they ran indoors you get 15:59.88 but Daniel Winn (who is in the open individual mile at Penn) just two weeks ago ran 3:48 for 1500, not 3:57 for the mile.

Please don’t make yourself look stupid and say they could do it. We’re not sure if the talk about it is an attempt to get people to pay $20 to watch the meet or just a sign of stupidity. In 2009, a pretty talented team in Oregon tried to break 16:00 for the 4 x mile. They did it at night, under the lights, in way better conditions than you get at Penn. We imagine you have heard of a few of the guys on that team:

Split 1: Matthew Centrowitz 3:59.53
Split 2: Andrew Wheating 3:59.60 (7:59.13)
Split 3: Shadrack Biwott 4:05.21 (12:04.33)
Split 4: Galen Rupp 3:58.93 (16:03.24)

If a team with those guys – two guys who’d end up being 3:50 milers, one who’d run 3:30 for 1500 and another who’d run 2:12 for the marathon (4:02 mile pb) couldn’t do it, it’s not happening this year.

Regardless, you’ll believe us for sure when you see who is supposed to run the race. Flotrack, the broadcasters of the meet, are projecting that Oregon runs these four people – Colby Alexander, Jeramy Elkaim, Chris Brewer and Edward Cheserek. If it is just those four, the team is vulnerable. Here are the top mile or 1500 times run by those four indoors in the mile or outdoors in the 1500 (all converted to the mile) so far this year:

Colby Alexander – 4:00.66i
Jeremy Elkaim – 4:07.05 (outdoor 1500)
Chris Brewer – 4:05.57 (outdoor 1500)
Edward Cheserek – 3:56.43i
Total Time – 16:09.71

In the end, if Cheserek is on the anchor, he will be hard to beat. Maybe here we’ll get the even matchup between Cheserek and Williamsz of Villanova that we want to see, which we probably won’t get in the DMR. Here, Cheserek may actually have to come from behind. He’s more than capable of doing that. If Williamsz gets it with a 6+ second lead, Williamsz wins. If it’s less than 3.5 seconds, Williamsz loses. If it’s in between, it could be interesting.

But the Villanova boys are ready. Those times listed above all came in a 1500 at Princeton last week so they are all clearly in good form. The wildcard for Villanova may be Sam McEntee. He ran 3:43.50 in his first race of 2015 that he finished (he DNF’d at 5000 earlier in the outdoor season) last week at Princeton but has run 3:36 in the past. 3:43.50 makes him just the #5 guy at Nova but will coach Marcus O’Sullivan race him? Does 13:31 5000 stud Patrick Tiernan really get left off as well — he’s only got their sixth-best 1500 on the year? Those are good problems for O’Sullivan to have.

LRC Prediction: Again, picking this before we know who is running is idiotic. If Oregon runs Alexander, Elkaim, Brewer and Cheserek and the wind isn’t blowing 15 mph, as expected, they lose (wind might bunch things up and keep it close for Cheserek at the end). Villanova FTW. If Oregon loads up, they win.

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Saturday 4:40 p.m. ET – Men’s 4×800 *Entries

On the men’s side, the 4 x 800 and 4 x mile are on the same day. Most coaches don’t want to double up guys so most men’s teams either go after the 4 x 800 or they go after the 4 x mile (Oregon this year is going 4 x mile). If they do try to double, they often struggle, making it easier for the totally fresh teams, so look and see if any of the guys are doubling back from the 4 x mile.

Below you will find the seasonal best times for the top eight seeded teams. Georgia Tech, Penn State, Villanova and Columbia have had three guys go sub-1:50 this year outdoors, but the fastest team on paper, at least according to seasonal best times, is Georgetown which has produced two sub-1:48s this year. This race would belong to Penn State if Za’Von Watkins was running but he hasn’t raced all of outdoors and we have confirm that Penn State will be running a bit short-handed.

Texas A&M also has a Borlee situation going on as it has three guys named Hernandez on its team. Only two (Hector and Efrain) are related, however.

Columbia, which shocked the world and won this event in 2007 (when the Michigan anchor was doubling back from the mile), will be looking to do something LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson always wanted to do with his Cornell teams — become the first Ivy team to break 7:20. If it’s windy, it ain’t happening.

Georgetown White, Joseph FR-1 1:47.57
Ledder, Billy SR-4 1:47.89
Gordon, Nate SO-2 1:50.94
Williams, Cole JR-3 1:51.58
Total 7:17.98
Georgia Tech Lasater, Brandon SR-4 1:47.38
Fanelty, Zack SR-4 1:49.51
Littig, Andres FR-1 1:49.67
Coburn, Zane SO-2 1:51.49
 Total 7:18.05
Penn State Kidder, Brannon JR-3 1:47.14
Creese, Robby JR-3 1:48.54
Rhodes, Robert JR-3 1:49.04
Hill, Bobby FR-1 1:53.72
 Total 7:18.44
Texas A&M Hernandez, Hector JR-3 1:48.27
Hernandez, Josh SR-4 1:48.66
Kinsey, Gaines SO-2 1:50.44
Hernandez, Efrain FR-1 1:50.58
total 7:18.95
Indiana Kuhn, Daniel FR-1 1:47.80
Kinnaird, Tre’tez SO-2 1:48.45
Hunter, Rorey SR-4 1:50.66
Huntoon, Jordan FR-1 1:52.15
Total 7:19.06
Villanova Malone, Ben FR-1 1:49.13
Lampron, Josh SO-2 1:49.38
Slade, Elliot FR-1 1:49.75
Muhammad, Ishmael FR-1 1:50.84
Total 7:19.10
Columbia Fish, Brendon SR-4 1:48.08
Claflin, Connor SR-4 1:48.79
Napolitano, Rob SO-2 1:49.73
Haik, Spencer FR-1 1:53.52
Total 7:19.12
Stanford Lefebure, Luke SR-4 1:49.77
Buttinger, Scott SO-2 1:50.49
Silva, Ryan FR-1 1:53.64
Drinkwater, Will SO-2 1:54.17
Total 7:28.07

LRC Prediction: We’d like to know if Penn State has anyone for runner #4 but they are our pick. Three years ago when Robby Creese was a frosh, everyone thought Creese was a sitting duck on the anchor when he was squared up against Elijah Greer but it was Creese and Penn State that got the win. As a sophomore, Creese anchored the winning DMR team before running leadoff on the 4 x 800 team that won. He thrives at Penn. It just doesn’t seem right to not pick against them.

Individual Events – You can find the entries to Thursday’s nights distance carnival here. We talk about Saturday’s miles below.

Saturday, 3 pm ET – Women’s Mile
This one suddenly is very interesting. Oregon’s Annie Leblanc, who beat both Treniere Moser at 800 and Mary Cain at 1500 last week, runs against former NCAA stars Sheila Reid, Cory McGee and Emily Lipari. A win here by LeBlanc and Cain and Moser fans might be feeling a little better about themselves. Reid vs. LeBlanc may soon be a regular occurence at the Canadian champs.

01 Nike/Canada Sheila Reid
02 New Balance Cory McGee
03 NYAC/Oiselle Kerri Gallagher
04 Boston AA Emily Lipari
06 Temple Blanca Fernandez
07 University of Oregon Annie Leblanc
08 Harvard Molly Renfer
09 Adidas Charlene Lipsey
10 Duke University Haley Meier
11 New Balance New York Rolanda Bell
12 Adidas/Rogue AC Nicky Akande
13 Stanford Molly McNamara
14 Stanford Sophie Chase
16 unattached Kelsey Duerksen

LRC Prediction: LeBlanc for the win. Yes, Reid is way more accomplished but she didn’t race indoors.

Saturday 3:55 pm ET – Men’s Mile

We were hoping to see Robby Andrews on the entry list but he’s not on it. Your guess is as good as ours.


01 B.A.A. Steve Mangan
02 University of Oregon Daniel Winn
03 Bryn Mawr RC Owen Dawson
04 Speed Factory Athletics John Nick Happe
05 NJ/NYTC Trevor Van Ackeren
06 SERBIA Nemanja Cerovac
07 unattached Joe Gioielli
08 NJ/NYTC Reed Connor
09 NJ/NYTC Shawn Roberts
10 NJ/NYTC Christian Gonzalez
11 NJ/NYTC Michael Pressler
12 New Balance Boston Kevin Cooper
13 NYAC Jeff Weinstein
14 Track and Field Academy of PTI Coby Horowitz
15 MVP Track Club Darryll Oliver

Discuss Penn in this threaed on our fan forum: Official 2015 Penn Relays Live Discussion Thread.

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