PHILADELPHIA - Team USA’s women put on a thrilling show in the women’s 4x800m as they shattered the American Record by 13 seconds in the first event of the day and set the tone for Team USA to go on to win four of the six events at the 14th edition of USA vs. the World at the Penn Relays.
A crowd of 48,871 packed Franklin Field for the first stop of the 2013 Outdoor USATF Championship Series and featured four hours of coverage on NBC and Universal Sports.
Team USA Red smashed the American Record by 13 seconds to win the women’s 4x800. Team USA battled with team Kenya through all four legs. Lea Wallace who got USA Red off to a good start with a 2:02.0 leg and handed off the baton to Brenda Martinez with the lead pack close together. Martinez was passed by Eunice Sum of Kenya, but Martinez returned the charge to regain the lead and split 2:00.6, with Sum at 2:01.2. 18-year-old Ajee Wilson also exchanged places with Hellen Obiri of Kenya during the third leg, but pulled ahead to pass the baton to Alysia Montano in first as she split 2:03.1. Montano extended the lead and crossed the line in a record-setting time of 8:04.31. Montano clocked the fastest split of the field in 1:58.6. Team Kenya was second in 8:07.58, with Team USA Blue (Phoebe Wright, Geena Gall, Alice Schmidt. LaTavia Thomas) third in 8:10.99.
Nike Women’s 4x100
Team USA and Jamaica staged another fierce battle between in the Nike women’s 4x100m. USA Red and Jamaica were even through two legs, as world record setters Tianna (Madison) Bartoletta and Allyson Felix ran for USA Red and Sheron Simpson and Kerron Stewart handled duties for Jamaica. Bianca Knight and Anneisha McLaughlin continued to battle through the curve and handed the sticks to the anchor legs nearly simultaneously. The anchor leg pitted Jeneba Tarmoh against two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Fraser-Pryce pulled away to cross the line first in 42.42. Porscha Lucas anchored USA Blue (Mandy White, Alexandria Anderson, Barbara Pierre, Lucas) from well back into second in 42.65, with USA Red third in 42.66.
BMW Women’s 4x400
It was a USA-Great Britain battle from start to finish in the BMW Women’s 4x400. Jessica Beard (51.5), Natasha Hastings (49.9) and Dee Dee Trotter (51.0) ran the first three legs for USA Red, with Emily Child (51.6), Shana Cox (50.4) and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu (50.4) handling duties for Great Britain. In the most thrilling finish of the day, Team USA Red’s Francena McCorory battled down the homestretch with Perri Shakes-Drayton of GBR to take the win for Team USA by only two-hundredths of a second. McCorory and Shakes-Drayton both split 50.3.Team USA won in 3:22.66, followed by Great Britain in 3:22.68 and Jamaica in 3:24.11. Team USA Blue (Ebonie Floyd, Mary Wineberg, Joanna Atkins, Keshia Baker) was fourth in 3:26.26.
Nike Men’s 4x400
Team USA Red held off a late charge by the Jamaicans to win the men’s 4x400m. Torrin Lawrence established the lead for Team USA with a 45.6 split and passed the baton to Olympic inspirational hero Manteo Mitchell, who held off Olympic gold medalist Kirani James’ split of 44.0 for the Caribbean All-Stars. Bershawn “Batman” Jackson (45.7) extended Team USA’s lead, and Tony McQuay (44.8) faced a late charge by Errol Nolan of Jamaica (44.3) on the anchor but held on to win in 3:00.91. Jamaica finished second in 3:01.15, while the Bahamas were third in 3:02.23. Team USA Blue (Jaamal Torrance, Calvin Smith, Joshua Anderson, Joey Hughtes) finished fourth in 3:02.64.
BMW Men’s 4x100
Team USA Red won the men’s 4x100m in 38.26 with a comfortable lead over Jamaica in 38.65, while Team USA Blue (Jeff Demps, Wallace Spearmon, Maurice Mitchell, Ivory Williams) was third in 38.94. Team USA Red got off to a solid start with Mike Rodgers running the curve. Justin Gatlin stormed ahead of the field on the backstretch to pass the stick to Doc Patton in the lead, as the Jamaicans seemed to falter on the exchange to the third leg. Ryan Bailey anchored Team USA to the finish nearly half a second ahead of Jamaica.
Men’s Distance Medley Relay
Ethiopia pulled ahead of Team Kenya over the last leg of the men’s DMR to take the victory in 9:16.34, with Kenya crossing the line in 9:17.03. Team USA Red (Andrew Wheating, Quentin Summers, Duane Solomon, David Torrence) finished third in 9:18.21, while Team USA Blue (Matthew Centrowitz, Kind Butler, Charles Jock, Bernard Lagat) took fourth in 9:19.33.
For full results from USA vs. The World and all Penn Relays events, visit http://pennrelaysonline.com/Results/schedule.aspx.
For more information on the 2013 USATF Outdoor Championship Series, visit www.usatf.org
Lea Wallace (1st leg)
“I can’t tell you how exciting it was for me to put on the red jersey. I’ve never worn a Team USA uniform, and it was a really special thing. Being the first leg was very exciting. I’ve never been in a crowd like that either. Penn Relays is the most incredible experience of my life. [It was] awesome to be a part of this team.”
Brenda Martinez (2nd leg)
“I wanted to come out and have fun and just do my part. It was really fun coming in really strong on the home stretch and handing off really strong. Everyone did really well. I was really excited to be a part of it.”
Ajee Wilson (3rd leg)
“I got the baton in first…[On the] last lap, one of the runners came and challenged me…I was just happy to be a part of this team. I was happy to be at Penn again. I was definitely way more nervous than in high school. In high school, I was confident, knowing I had a strong leg, when some of the other girls weren’t strong. Here everyone is doing the same thing…Coming from behind wouldn’t have been as easy to catch up.”
Alysia Montano (4th leg)
“I’m so incredibly proud of all these girls. I have the greatest faith in them, and I am so proud to be able to anchor this team to a win…I couldn’t ask for anything more...When you take down records and put yourself out there to push the limit, you’re setting yourself up for success. It’s an absolute confidence builder, knowing that I am training through this [race]. I never even knew what the [American Record] was. I like to just go and race. To me, you can’t really think about times. You have to just go and compete and that’s exactly what we did...(On Ajee Wilson) I’m incredibly proud of her. I told her to control her nerves and really go out there and perform…I just wanted to run hard for these ladies. they set the precedent for what we were going to do today. I was just totally fired up watching [my teammate’s] grit. I just run off of feel. Time doesn’t really mean anything. You don’t know where you’re at [in the race]. I came through the first lap with no idea of what I was running. I just knew that I felt really on fire, and I could literally just feel the energy of the other three legs. I knew I had to take it home.”
Jessica Beard (1st leg)
"I thought my leg was pretty good. I just thought about the rest of the ladies and wanted to make sure when I handed off the baton we were in a good position. I think just from seeing the rest of the race, you see how well we ran and how hard we fought to just get the victory. I am happy about it."
Natasha Hastings (2nd leg)
"I felt pretty good. Jessica [Beard] did a nice job of opening it up. I saw her coming in about even with the Jamaican girl [Novlene Williams Mills] so I knew she put us out pretty good. I just wanted to maintain the lead, open up the lead and have a clean stick pass with DeeDee [Trotter] to set up a nice race for DeeDee and Fran (McCorory)."
Dee Dee Trotter (3rd leg)
"Jessica [Beard] did a great job with opening up the race, Natasha (Hastings) opened it up a little more and gave me a great lead. I couldn't feel the Great Britain [Christine Ohuruogo] Olympic champion on me on the inside. But she would eventually come and give me a little nip on the homestretch. Once I felt her, I immediately would try to keep her out from the inside and try to open up a little bit of space between her and I before I handed it off to Francena [McCorory]. It was a competitive leg and overall I think it was a good run for me.I think Francena brought it home in a fashion where competitiveness is definitely the key and she is good at that."
Francena McCorory (4th leg)
"I think everyone ran pretty well. We are all just opening up, no one has ran many 400s so I think we ran great. I haven't ran the anchor leg since high school, so it was kind of new, but I had a lot of fun. I think we all did great. I was looking for the finish line, my eyes were as big as a cartoon... it was a hard race, but it was fun."
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price (Jamaica, 4th leg)
"For me, I think what keeps me going is that when 2012 is finished, it is finished. It is 2013--it is a new year and a new focus. I start the year like I never won anything...I consider myself to be a very hungry athlete whenever I compete and whenever it is a new season."
Allyson Felix (Team USA Red, 2nd leg)
"I think any year after a major championship is difficult, you know, just to get back moving coming off of such a high. So for me, I've just been trying to take things slowly. I think this is going to be a season where I have a gradual buildup and hopefully everything comes together at nationals."
Manteo Mitchell (2nd leg)
“I’m just glad to be back, and glad to be healthy. I’m not in 100 percent shape obviously after being out 16 weeks but I’m gradually getting back to where I was last year around this time and I’m happy with being able to come with these guys and run a good time early in the season.”
Bershawn Jackson (3rd leg)
“I’m just happy to come back this season with a positive mindset. I had a bad experience last year at trials, a humbling experience. I hurt my hamstring indoor and this is my third week back so I was a bit nervous but we put together a great team. People didn’t think we had enough firepower to actually win with LaShawn Merritt being out but today I felt great, the atmosphere is always great here at The Penn Relays. I told Tony that we were going to work hard to bring him the lead, and there’s no better man to bring it home then Tony McQuay.”
Tony McQuay (4th leg)
“Batman” [Bershawn Jackson] came up to me and said I was going to have an easy job. Any time I know I’m going to have it easy I’m a happy camper. I just had to trust these guys, let them go out there and run their race and just bring it home for USA and let the world know we’re back on top.”
Mike Rodgers (1st leg)
"I just got a good start and just put us in position to win the race. I was excited and the crowd was going crazy, so I gave it all I had and you saw the result."
Justin Gatlin (2nd leg)
"It felt good, you know, to have that vibe and that flow. When you're working with seasoned vets like my team, you want to make sure you just keep it clean, get them all the way around, and just come out with the W."
Doc Patton (3rd leg)
"It was special for me because I know this might be my last one. So, I had the crowd pumped. They got really excited and it felt good. We had really clean passes. You know, we wanted the record but we got the victory in the fact that we won."
Ryan Bailey (4th leg)
"My anchor was good. I felt like I left a little early. I saw Doc rolling around the corner so I knew I had to get out. So I tried to get out the best I could. It felt good. It wasn't a blistering time but it was good time, so I was happy."