April 25, 2015
PHILADELPHIA - The day came down to two-hundredths of a second among the 48,920 clamoring fans at historic Franklin Field for the 121st Penn Relays Carnival. The crowd got on their feet for the final moments of the Men's 4x800-Meter Relay Championship of America (COA) Invitational, where the Hoyas were narrowly edged out by two-hundredths of a second, falling just shy to Georgia Tech (7:18.84) as they clocked 7:18.86 to cross the finish line.
All-American Cole Williams (San Francisco, Calif./Occidental College) led off with a strong 1:50.88 to hand off in second place, the Hoyas eager to be at the front of the race early. All-American Billy Ledder (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) took over the second leg, taking the lead over his final 200 meters, splitting 1:49.52. All-American Amos Bartelsmeyer (St. Louis, Mo./Saint Louis Country Day) was in charge of the third frame, going against Villanova's Jordan Williamsz - already anchoring a championship relay squad earlier in the day. Williamsz turned in a brilliant performance in to what sounded like a hometown crowd with all of the Wildcat track & field team present in the stands off the first turn. Bartelsmeyer split 1:51.10 with All-American Joe White (Clifton, N.J./DePaul Catholic) on the anchor leg.
White, just a freshman for the Hoyas, ran with the experience of a veteran, waiting for just the right moment to start his kick and close on Villanova's Elliot Slade who had a clear lead on the field. As White made his move, Georgia Tech's Brandon Lasater went with him and the duo overtook Villanova coming off the final turn by the Penn Relays Wall of Fame and it became a race down the final straightaway. A mere 10 meters from the finish line, Lasater narrowly edged out White and Georgia Tech claimed its first COA title in the event in school history. White officially split 1:47.37, the 10th-fastest split in school history, behind Hoya standouts Mike Stahr, Steve Holman, Paul Whittaker and Matt Kalwinsky - all in the record books with a 1:47.3.
The anchor is the most crucial leg of any relay, but today's Men's 4xMile Championship of America Invitational was the embodiment of that sentiment. A race that essentially hit restart as the anchor legs started with All-American Ahmed Bile (Annandale, Va./Annandale) representing the Blue & Gray against the likes of Oregon's track phenom Edward Cheserek and VU's Williamsz, the Hoyas took fourth place with a time of 16:22.50 behind Villanova (16:18.07), Oregon (16:18.93) and Stanford (16:20.44). The time was a new school record, besting the previous mark of 16:22.57 set at the 2010 Penn Relays by Alex Mason, Alex Bean, Dylan Sorensen and Andrew Bumbalough.
The first three legs for GU did exactly as planned - making sure to put the next runner in excellent position at the exchange to eventually set up Bile at the anchor spot. Darren Fahy (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) led off for the Blue & Gray, splitting 4:03.6. Collin Leibold (Falls Church, Va./Gonzaga) took over the second leg, holding on through the final turn (4:02.5). The second handoff position was toward the front to let Ryan Gil (Pittsburgh, Pa./Allegheny) come out of the exchange on the inside next to the rail.
Out of the final handoff, Bile made up some quick ground, but the tactical race slowed down so much that the chase pack caught up and the field was together again, seemingly slowing down to a walk as no one wanted to take the lead. At the bell, it became an all-out sprint. As Cheserek looked to be getting boxed in coming off the first turn, the track was littered with the long strides of 13 anchors as Bile opted for an approach from the outside.
Cheserek would get out of the traffic and it became a race between Oregon and Villanova for first, with the `Cats eventually upsetting the Ducks. Bile made moves through the turn, officially splitting 4:12.4 for the mile with an unofficial 57 seconds over the final lap.
The women's 4x800-Meter Relay Championship of America Invitational saw a strong team performance from the Hoyas as they finished third with a time of 8:30.36 behind Villanova (8:26.36) and Clemson (8:30.28).
Heather Martin (Manlius, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) ran lead off for the Hoyas, splitting 2:09.45 and making a strong move down the final straightaway to hand the baton to All-American Sabrina Southerland (New York, N.Y./Benjamin N. Cardozo) in first place.
Southerland held off Villanova and Stanford wire to wire, splitting 2:04.80, before handing off to All-American Piper Donaghu (Portland, Ore./Grant). A split of 2:08.37 put the Hoyas just the slightest bit behind the `Cats and anchor Angel Piccirillo. Piccirillo's 2:04.28 was too much for GU All-American anchor Katrina Coogan (Exeter, N.H./Phillips Exeter Academy), who split 2:07.75. Coogan ran all three anchor legs in the COA distance relays for the Hoyas.
The Hoyas will return to action on Friday, May 1 for the Kehoe Twilight Meet, hosted by the University of Maryland in College Park. The Hoyas will also send runners to the Peyton Jordan Invitational on Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, in Palo Alto, Calif., a meet hosted by Stanford University.