April 27, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - In an incredible where the top six teams were separated by less than one second Villanova wound up in sixth place in the Championship of American distance medley relay at Franklin Field, where the Wildcats continued competition in the Penn Relays on Friday afternoon.
A lineup of freshman Rob Denault (Aurora, Ont.), freshman Bryan Murphy (Teaneck, N.J.), sophomore Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.) and freshman Samuel McEntee (Perth, Australia) came in with a time of 9:43.28 and was separated from finishing in the top three by just two-tenths of a second in the crowded finish to a great race.
"It was one of those races where if you leave it to the last 200 meters it is going to come down to who the best 200 meters runner is," Villanova head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said. "It is a lot to ask to pull that off and Sam ran a really good final leg. He looked really good with 200 meters left but at that point probably every coach was able to look at his guy and think they looked very good. It was that close a race."
McEntee produced a split of 4:06.5 in the 1600 meters anchor leg and was within striking distance of the lead throughout his entire run. He made a move towards the front with 300 meters remaining but Princeton anchor Donn Cabral had the best sprint in the field down the stretch and that was the decisive factor in the Tigers coming away with a slim margin of victory.
The race was a slow one but despite the methodical pace it still took an impressive effort by Ellison in the third leg of the relay in order for him to hand the baton to McEntee with the Wildcats in the mix to win it. Running the 800 meters leg Ellison produced a split of 1:48.9 but it was a stirring final 200 meters in which he passed five runners that really turned heads during the race.
Denault opened the relay for Villanova with a time of 2:59.9 over the first 1200 meters and Murphy had a personal best split of 48.0 in the second leg. The result was a positive one for a young Wildcats team that was looking to defend its championship won in this event last year.
"It is all positive for us," O'Sullivan said. "When you come to the Penn Relays with Villanova the expectations are phenomenal. This is bigger for us than anything. I am disappointed not to win but this race was pure entertainment. These are the kinds of races you wait for at the Penn Relays and for our team this was a great learning experience."
Also in action for Villanova on Friday were freshmen Elbert Maxwell (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Matthew Sidney (Canton, Mass.) in the Eastern sections of the long jump and the high jump, respectively. Maxwell came in sixth out of 27 in the long jump with a distance of 7.05 meters and Sidney tied for 15th place in the high jump by clearing a height of 1.96 meters.
Late on Friday night sophomore John Pickhaver (Drexel Hill, Pa.) ran in the College section of the 5000 meters and finished with a time of 14:53.98 to place 25th in a field of 31 runners.
Senior thrower Frank Anuszewski (Pottstown, Pa.) will be in action for the Wildcats early Saturday afternoon in the College section of the hammer throw. Villanova is also scheduled to run in the 4xMile relay at 1:25 p.m. and the 4x800 meter relay at 4:40 p.m.