Track: Distance teams carry ‘Nova at Penn Relays

Jonathan Hofmann

The Penn Relays, considered the biggest track meet of the year for the Wildcats, were held April 24-27 and proved to be a successful event for the men’s and women’s teams.

The historically ‘Nova-dominated event, held at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, began with a seventh-place finish for the women’s squad in the distance medley relay on April 24. Senior Frances Koons ran anchor for the team and finished with a personal best of 4:34.6.

The race is split into four parts, beginning with a 1,200-meter run, followed by a 400-meter leg, then an 800-meter leg and the anchor position who runs the longest leg of 1600-meters to the finish line. Freshman Ali Smith started the race with a 3:28.4 finish, handing the baton to sophomore Makalia Griffith who finished in 55.0. The third leg was run by senior Akilah Vargas, who then passed the baton to Koons after 2:11.5. Michigan was able to win the race.

The next event the Wildcats competed in was the men’s DMR race on Friday. The men’s team fared better with an extremely close third-place finish. Senior Michael Kerrigan began the race with a 2:56.7 finish, followed by sophomore Garrett Kroner who finished in 47.2. Junior Sean Tully ran in the third spot for a time of 1:51.2, before handing off to senior Bobby Curtis in the anchor spot.

Curtis finished in an impressive 3:59.3, but it was not enough for the Wildcats to pull out a victory.

The women battled in the 4×1500-meter race on Friday for a third-place finish also. Michigan bested the competition again with a time of 17:28.98 to win the race. ‘Nova was not far behind with a 17:47.01 finish. The first split was run by freshman Callie Hogan, who passed the baton to Vargas, followed by senior Liz Haglund and finished by the impressive Koons.

Villanova competed in its final event on the last day of the relays in the men’s 4×800-meter Championship of America race. The team finished in seventh on the strength of Curtis, Kerrigan, senior Mark Korich and freshman Carl Mackenzie with a time of 7:28.91, just over five seconds after the winning pace.

Mackenzie, in his first Penn Relay showing, ran anchor for the team and got off to a disappointing start. A poor baton handoff between him and Korich brought the team down to sixth place only 10 meters into the final leg. Mackenzie was never able to recover, however, and although he finished in a quick 1:52.0, the team finished in seventh with a final time of 7:28.91.

The Wildcat men’s and women’s teams will both compete next at the Big East Conference Outdoor Championships. The event will be held on campus at Villanova Stadium May 2-4. Having this home field advantage should provide a boost for both the men and women’s teams.