PHILADELPHIA - Team USA on Saturday dominated the biggest international field ever assembled for USA vs. the World to sweep all six races at the 13th edition of the event at the Penn Relays.
With Americans setting meet records in the women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay and a historic first win for the U.S. men in the distance medley relay, Team USA made its strongest statement in the history of USA vs. the World. More than 49,000 fans attended Saturday’s competition at Franklin Field.
The first meet of USA Track & Field’s 2012 Outdoor Visa Championship Series was televised live on NBC.
Nike Women’s 4x400m
Team USA Red set a Penn Relays record by nearly a second to secure a U.S. sweep of all six relays. Francena McCorory got off to a quick start to place Team USA in the lead. After Allyson Felix followed up with a second strong leg (50.1), Natasha Hastings (50.3) and Sanya Richards-Ross were able to enjoy the lead free of the crowd behind them. Richards-Ross clocked the fastest split of the day in 49.5 to finish in 3:21.18, more than five seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Jamaica was second in 3:26.65, while USA Blue (DeeDee Trotter, Jessica Beard, Moushaumi Robinson, Monica Hargrove) took third in 3:27.08.
Visa Women’s 4x100m
For the second year in a row, Team USA ran to a Penn Relays record in the women’s 4x100m. Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter of Team USA Red won in a time of 42.19. The 2012 World Indoor 60m bronze medalist, Madison got out well, and three-time world 200m champion Felix opened it up on the backstretch. Bianca Knight ran a scintillating third leg to hand off to Jeter well in the lead. The reigning world 100m champion, Jeter lengthened the lead on the final stretch to win by more than a second over Jamaica in 43.31, while Nigeria took third in 43.92.
Nike Men’s Distance Medley Relay
Team USA went 1-2 in the men’s distance medley relay to win the event for the first time since it was added to the USA vs. the World lineup in 2006. Team USA Red ran from the front through the first three legs of Russell Brown (1200m - 2:52.9), Michael Tinsley (400m - 45.8), and Nick Symmonds (800m - 1:44.0). Veteran Bernard Lagat started the anchor leg with about a five-meter lead over the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Team USA blue ran in the second and third positions through Tyler Mulder (2:52.8), David Neville (46.7) and Khadevis Robinson’s (1:44.9) legs. On the final 1,600m leg, Penn Relays collegiate legend Leo Manzano began to close the gap on Lagat and was running off of his shoulder at the bell-lap. With 200m remaining, Ethiopia’s Aman Wote moved up into the mix to take the lead. But with a final leg of 3:54.9, Manzano surged to the lead on the final curve to take the win for USA Blue in 9:19.31, with Lagat (3:57.2) close behind in 9:19.88 for USA Red. Ethiopia finished third in 9:21.42.
BMW Men’s 4x100m
Team USA Red and Blue swept both heats of the men’s 4x100m to take back the event after Jamaica won three of the past four years. Mike Rodgers ran the lead leg for the U.S. and handed off the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and 2012 World Indoor champion Justin Gatlin, who blew open the race. After a smooth exchange with Doc Patton, Olympic 100m and 200m bronze medalist Walter Dix stormed down the homestretch unchallenged, with a 10-meter lead, to take the win in 38.40. Jamaica finished more than half a second behind in 38.98. In the first heat, the Team USA Red lineup of Ivory Williams, Shawn Crawford, Trell Kimmons and Ryan Bailey ran 38.47 to comfortably win their heat by over the Netherlands in 39.26 and post the second-fastest time.
BWM Women’s Sprint Medley
Team USA Blue snapped Jamaica’s four-year winning streak in the women’s sprint medley relay with a victory of 3:42.85. Porscha Lucas and Barbara Pierre ran the first two 200m legs for the U.S. team and exchanged the lead with the Jamaicans. While Jamaica pulled ahead on the 400m leg with Olympic 400m hurdles champion Melaine Walker (52.5) doing the honors, Phoebe Wright kept Team USA in contact as she dropped down from her normal 800m distance to split 53.9 for the quarter. Jamaica’s anchor Korene Hinds received the baton with at least a 10-meter lead over USA Blue. Marilyn Okoro of Great Britain overtook USA’s Maggie Vessey on the backstretch on the first lap of the final, 800m leg. But Hinds soon faded and Okoro and Vessey both overtook Hinds at the same point on the backstretch and began the battle for the lead. Once Vessey hit the homestretch, she surged ahead to win by a stride. Vessey split 2:02.6 to anchor the win. Great Britain was second in 3:43.72 and Jamaica was third in 3:45.79.
Visa Men’s 4x400m
It was a USA vs. Bahamas showdown in the men’s 4x400m with Calvin Smith (46.4), Angelo Taylor (44.7) and Bershawn Jackson (44.2) of Team USA Red running on the heels heels of the Bahamas’ Demetrius Pinder, Ramon Miller and Michael Mathieu through the first three legs. Once reigning Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt got the baton on the anchor, he steadily closed the gap on Bahamian Chris Brown and moved into the lead with 100m remaining to split 44.8 to Brown’s 45.6. Team USA won in 3:00.15 to the Bahamas’ second-place 3:00.56. In the first 4x400 heat, Team USA Blue of Josh Scott (46.1), Jamaal Torrance (45.7), Quentin Summers (46.1) and Manteo Mitchell (45.2) won in 3:03.13 to post the third-fastest time overall.
Women’s 4x100m Relay
Tianna Madison – “It’s my first 4x100 and my first time running with these girls. Before the race, Allyson(Felix) and I had a little huddle. I said, absolutely I will get you the stick. I promise you. I just concentrated on running the fastest 100 I possibly could.”
Allyson Felix – (See 4x400 quotes)
Bianca Knight – “I knew I was running with veterans so I trusted Allyson to get the stick into my hand. I’m liking the experience. I had fun today. I am much more comfortable on the third leg. I really just acted like I was running the 200 meters. I was just comfortable. We (she and Jeter) just did two handoffs yesterday and said ‘that’s it.’ Our depth is so crazy that we can definitely run faster than 42.1. We are hard to beat once we get the stick around.”
Carmelita Jeter – “Being the anchor leg, you get to see the whole race, and that’s probably the most nervous part. Bianca Knight ran an incredible leg to get the stick to me. We ran a meet record, which was great. For our first time running together, we had great chemistry. I believe everyone trusted each other to run their leg. When I looked up at the clock and saw another meet record, it makes me look forward to London 2012. Hopefully everyone stays healthy. I definitely believe we can improve this relay and run faster than we did today. It’s only April.”
Men’s 4x100m Relay
Mike Rodgers – “I was very excited to be back on the track today. I had a good start, good middle, and me and Gat had a great handoff too.”
Justin Gatlin – “I felt the energy from the crowd. It was very cold today, but the warmth of the crowd put us out there. Our mission out there was to go out and get the stick around the track. There’s no prima donnas, nobody’s fighting for anchor leg. We’re all just trying to get the stick around as fast as possible.”
Darvis Patton – “I was just happy we got the stick around. We all have great camaraderie, we all get along. There aren’t any egos on this team anymore.”
Walter Dix – “On fourth leg I just wanted to carry the momentum that the three guys ahead of me set. All those guys in that first heat have run under 10 seconds. It’s not that far-fetched that they would run around what we ran. (Team USA Blue ran 38.47 to Team USA Red’s 38.40)”
Women’s Sprint Medley Relay
Porscha Lucas: “I was first leg and I was really just concentrating on getting the baton pass first. I’m happy with how I ran today.”
Barbara Pierre: “My first thought was oh my gosh it’s really cold out here. I wanted to make sure I got the baton from Porscha.”
Phoebe Wright: “The 400 is a little bit tricky for me. I was just trying to run all-out for one lap for these days. I haven’t run a quarter since college. My legs fell off when there was like 80 meters to go. It’s my favorite meet by far. The crowd and all the hype. For some reason just having that baton in my hand makes it so much more fun.”
Maggie Vessey: “This was my first Penn Relays, so to be running the anchor leg on the sprint medley relay was an exciting experience. I just wanted to do a good job for my team. I didn’t want to go out too fast, so I tried to be patient and sit and wait and wait and wait and fortunately it was a fun finish and hearing “USA, USA” was a great feeling. It was a phenomenal experience.
Men’s Distance Medley Relay
Leonel Manzano: “Bernard is a beast and I knew I was really going to have to bring my A game. Being against Bernard since 2007, and us going back and forth, he’s won more battles than I have. But there is a little bit of satisfaction there.”
Khadevis Robinson: “This was my first race. When we came through the 400 in 49, if I would have gone with him (Nick Symmonds) I would have paid for that.”
Tyler Mulder: “I knew I could stay with the whole group. I’m coming off some really good base training so I knew I could keep with him (USA Red’s Russell Brown).”
David Neville: “It feels really good, especially when you think of other countries being more known for distances. I think for us to come out and win in a dominant fashion shows the work we are doing.”
Men’s 4x400m Relay
Calvin Smith: “I got out good, kind of backed off on the backstretch, and brought it home.”
Angelo Taylor: “I felt pretty good today. We were a little down when I got the baton. I just wanted to go out and run relaxed. I think I backed off a little bit and had to run behind Jermaine Gonzales. I kind of sat behind him. The last 100 meters coming off the curve, I was feeling pretty good and had a strong kick.”
Bershawn Jackson: “I thrive at the Penn Relays. I started running here when I was 19 years old. I wanted to get in a good position. I went out a little too hard. Coming around the last bend, I worked too hard to pass. We’re not nearly in peak shape, so for us to run 3 minutes in the cold weather … look out.”
LaShawn Merritt: “Great day today. When I got the baton, Chris (Brown of the Bahamas) had already taken off and I was thinking about just going ahead and blowing by him. But I wanted to work on my kick. Me being a sprinter, the worst part of my race is coming home. So I went out and sat behind him. I finished up strong and got the ‘W’ for the USA.”
Women’s 4x400m Relay
Francena McCorory: “I had a really good time today. I just wanted to get out to a good position.”
Allyson Felix: “I always enjoy running here. The crowd was amazing. For me right now, I feel like my speed is really strong. I definitely felt very strong on the 4x100m. I feel like my 400 will come around. I felt good on both relays. It was great that we were able to set records in both.”
Natasha Hastings: “It’s always exciting to come back to the Penn Relays. There really wasn’t much work left for me and Sanya with Allyson and Francena’s legs.”
Sanya Richards: “I still wanted to run strong and I was really happy that we were able to break the record as a team. I felt the spirit with my teammates all day here that everybody wanted to come out and do a great job and set the tone for London.”
Full results can be found at www.PennRelaysOnline.com