April 26, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- The last Villanova race of the weekend at the 120th Penn Relays proved to be the most meaningful as the Wildcats won the Championship of America title in the men's 4x800 meter relay at Franklin Field on Saturday afternoon. Redshirt freshman Josh Lampron (Mansfield, Mass.), junior Dusty Solis (Colorado Springs, Colo.), sophomore Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) and senior Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.) delivered Villanova to its first 11th title all-time in the 4x800 meter relay and the first since 1992. As a program the Wildcats have now won 95 Championship of America titles. The winning time for Villanova in Saturday's race was 7:16.58.
"I am incredibly proud of these guys," Villanova head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said. "It means more to me than I can adequately describe for these guys to step up and prove that they can run under pressure. This is our turf and there is so much pressure that we put on ourselves internally to defend our turf. These are the kinds of performances that I love to see."
Ellison produced a split of 1:46.58 on the anchor leg of the relay and turned a tight race into a sure thing. He went out strong, took control of the race from the beginning of the anchor leg and was never threatened after that.
"It doesn't get any better than this," Ellison said. "To leave Villanova and leave the Penn Relays for the last time is an incredible feeling. I was part of our last champion team [distance medley relay] as a freshman and I was kind of naïve to the full meaning of what we had accomplished so to bookend my career with this win is very meaningful."
Lampron led off for the Wildcats and was in third place after the first exchange thanks to a strong push in the final 150 meters. A collision at the first handoff knocked two teams out of contention, including Georgia Tech which had held the lead in the opening leg.
On the second leg of the relay Solis made a big kick in the final 250 meters and took the lead on the final turn. He held the lead at the second exchange when Williamsz took over and maintained the lead with a solid third leg.
Earlier in the day the Wildcats opened up with a third place finish in the 4xMile relay. Villanova had a lineup that included junior Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) leading off, followed by junior Rob Denault (Aurora, Ont.), freshman Patrick Tiernan (Toowoomba, Australia) and Williamsz. They finished with a time of 16:19.98 to come in behind Oregon and Stanford.
The relay went off in a physical manner with a lot of jostling for position within the pack. When the runners settled in McEntee settled in at the front of the pack for the first 800 meters. He was still at the front of the pack with 300 meters remaining in the opening leg, with Oregon sitting just behind him and Columbia nearly even with the lead.
Denault took the baton at the first exchange and went out hard to initially increase the Wildcats lead. He maintained the lead until there were 800 meters to go in the second leg, when Edward Cheserek of Oregon made a move for the lead. Cheserek handed off at the second exchange with the Ducks well in front of the pack and Oregon never looked back over the second half of the race.
On the final two legs of the relay both Tiernan and Williamsz looked strong as Villanova battled to stay in the chase group. Williamsz was fighting to keep a hold on third place with 300 meters to go and initially lost ground before making a final surge to secure a third place finish with less than 150 meters to go.