Olympians Shawn Crawford and Lauryn Williams did their best to keep Team USA perfect at the Penn Relays. But the B-team failed to keep the Americans undefeated. This year, it was an all-star team in the men's distance medley relay that denied the Americans their first sweep in three years in the "USA vs. the World" races yesterday at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
Still, Team USA won the five other events in the 113th running of the renowned relay carnival, leaving it with a 15-3 mark over the last three years.
The only blemish came in the distance medley relay when Kenyans Solomon Birir and Bernard Kiptum, Gary Kikaya (Congo), and American Courtney Jaworski won in 9 minutes 29.44 seconds.
While other athletes fawn over the Relays, Crawford said he'd rather be training elsewhere and wouldn't run if not for contractual obligations with his shoe company. Crawford, who won Olympic gold in the 200 in 2004, said he had better things to do than race in one of track and field's most prestigious events.
"I can be a team player and say, 'Yes, it's very important to me,' but I don't look at it as important," he said. "I run because I work for
New England competitors fared well throughout the day, including the Rhode Island team that came in second in the IC4A 400-meter relay, and Ashhad Agyapong, who finished seventh in the collegiate 100.
The BC team of Patrick Mellea, Jeremy Zagorski, Dan Lafave, and Frank Divittorio was third in the collegiate 4 x 800, with Yale fourth, and So. Conn. fifth; UConn won the ECAC collegiate women 4 x 200 and the men's team was second in the collegiate 1,600-meter relay; Robert Keizer (So. Conn.) was second and Muse Akanno (UConn) was fourth in the Eastern triple jump; David Slovenski of Brunswick, Maine, cleared 15 feet 1 inch to place third in the high school pole vault; and Dartmouth's Ben True finished third (4:05.56) in the Olympic Development mile.
The normally rocking crowd of 46,363 was hushed when the Jamaican team botched the first handoff in the sprint medley relay and was quickly taken out of the race, leading to perhaps the quietest race in the meet's history.
Not that it bothered the American squad of Rachelle Smith, Miki Barber, Monica Hargrove, and Hazel Clark. "It's just great coming here," Barber said.
Just don't tell that to Crawford. "We need to develop other meets in the country," he said. "We can all look forward to the Penn Relays every year, but when we build and organize other meets in the US . . . I think that's what's going to promote the sport."
Drake Relays -- Alan Webb broke Steve Scott's meet record in the mile by more than 3 seconds, finishing in a 2007 world-best 3:51.71 at the event's 98th annual running in Des Moines, Iowa. Jeff Hartwig, 39, also set a meet record, winning the pole vault by clearing 19-0 3/4, and New Hampshire's Catherine Parker finished fourth in the steeplechase.