April 27, 2013
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - On the final day of competition at the 119th running of the Penn Relays, the Villanova men's 4x800 meter relay ran a strong race and finished in second place. Earlier in the day the 4xMile relay team recorded a third place finish.
The 4xMile relay came down to a thrilling finish between Oregon, Indiana and the Wildcats. Oregon had a winning time of 16:17.57, while Indiana was second in 16:18.29 and Villanova was third with a time of 16:18.53.
The Wildcat quartet consisted of two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior.
"We have the same team coming back next year and the year after," said head coach Marcus O'Sullivan. "You keep trying and something good will happen. You keep coming back and hope that it fosters in them the ambition to dig a little deeper next year in terms of mental preparation. It's not something you switch around in one week, it's all year. You leave them thinking next year we'll be ready. If not, you go back to the drawing board and get ready again. We are under a lot of pressure here and they feel it. They know the history behind them and feel obligated to repeat it."
Sophomore Alex Tully (Little Rock, Ark.) ran the leadoff leg for the Wildcats and stayed with the pack for the majority of his run. Tally ran 4:11.4 and gave the baton to freshman Jordy Williamsz (Melbourne, Australia) in ninth position. Even though the Wildcats were in the ninth spot they were just two seconds off the lead.
Williamsz ran a phenomenal second leg for Villanova with a mile split of 3:58.7. Williamsz went from ninth position to the lead at the 800 meter mark. He would hand off to freshman Rob Denault (Aurora, Ontario) a split second behind Indiana.
When Denault took his turn on the track, the 11-team field was down to a seven-team race as the first seven schools were separated by just five meters. Denault took the lead after the first 400 meters and ran a strong leg for the Wildcats. He would finish his mile in 4:04.6 and give the baton to junior anchor Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) a stride behind race leading Columbia.
With 800 meters to go in the race, Villanova, Indiana and Oregon broke away from the seven-team pack. The trio stayed together until the 300 meter mark when they all began their finishing kick. Oregon's Mac Fleet went to the front and was able to outlast both Indiana's Andrew Bayer and McEntee. Bayer narrowly edged McEntee at the line for second place. McEntee was timed in 4:03.8.
"I got pushed inside which put me in a pocket and I couldn't get out," said McEntee. "I was fighting to get out and knew I should have been more proactive than reactive. I finally got to the outside, but Mac (Fleet) went first which was the right thing to do."
In the 4x800 meter relay Villanova had a lineup that featured sophomore Dusty Solis (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Williamsz, junior Chris FitzSimons (Hamden, Conn.) and junior Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.).
The Wildcats recorded a time of 7:17.37 and finished as the runner-up to Penn State, which won the relay with a time of 7:14.14. The rest of the field of nine teams was more than three seconds behind Villanova at the finish line.
Solis led off the relay for the Wildcats with a split of 1:51.12 and Villanova was in third place at the first handoff, with Penn State leading the way and Princeton less than one-tenth of a second in front of Villanova for second place.
In the second leg of the relay Williamsz closed the gap with a split of 1:47.73. By the midpoint of the race the Wildcats were virtually even with Penn State at the front of the race. Princeton was still within two seconds of Villanova and the Nittany Lions at that point but no other team was a factor.
Penn State pulled away from the pack during the third leg of the relay, as Casimir Loxsom produced a split of 1:46.30 which gave the Nittany Lions a lead that could not be challenged. FitzSimons had a split of 1:51.11 for Villanova during the third leg of the relay.
Ellison came up with a huge effort in the anchor leg for the Wildcats. His split of 1:47.43 was the fastest anchor leg by any team and is also a new personal best split.
The weekend at the Penn Relays was a busy one for Williamsz, who ran in all three relays that Villanova competed in during the past two days. Ellison and FitzSimons each joined Williamsz on the Wildcats distance medley relay squad on Friday afternoon.