By Dave Zeitlin
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PHILADELPHIA _ Porscha Lucas led Team USA to victory in the women’s 800-meter relay at the Penn Relays on Saturday and the Americans won four of six events in the U.S.A. vs. The World races.
The Americans finished in 1 minute, 31.972 seconds at Franklin Field.
“Once I got the baton, I told myself I have to go and keep running past the finish line,” Lucas said. “That’s what I tried to do. Honestly, I didn’t even know who won it _ it was such a close race. I almost dove for the line, hoping I would cross first.”
Team USA won the men’s 800 relay more comfortably with Joe Morris, Maurice Mitchell, Ameer Webb and Wallace Spearmon clocking in at 1:20.64 to beat Jamaica by eight-tenths of a second.
The Americans added relay victories in the men’s 1,600 and 400.
Patrick Feeney ran his anchor leg in 44.84 in the 1,600 to hold off the Bahamas by two-tenths of a second. Bryshon Nellum, Brycen Spratling and Clayton Parros ran the first three legs for the Americans, whose winning time was 3:00.86.
Olympic gold medallist Justin Gatlin powered Team USA to the 400 win with a blistering second leg. Mike Rodgers and Isiah Young also ran fast legs to give anchor Ryan Bailey enough of a cushion that he said he “didn’t see” Jamaican star Asafa Powell in their sprint to the finish.
The Americans won the 400 in 38.68. Jamaica was second in 38.88.
“Our depth and our talent is so vast,” Gatlin said. “When we’re focused, we’re very deadly going forward against the world. We want to be able to say there’s never a down time for us. But right now, I think we’re on the (upswing). And I think the rest of the world should watch out, especially the Bahamas.”
Jamaica edged the U.S. in the women’s 1,600 and the women’s 400, capturing the 1,600 title in 3:26.58 to end the Americans’ 13-year winning streak in the event. The American team, anchored by three-time Olympic medallist DeeDee Trotter, finished second in 3:28.42.
U.S. anchor Kaylin Whitney, a 17-year-old who was missing her high school prom Saturday, nearly caught Natasha Morrison in the 400, but Jamaica held on for the win in 43.70, delighting the large contingent of Jamaican fans who make the annual trip to Philadelphia. The U.S. clocked in at 43.79.
“A few meters more, I could have gotten her,” Whitney said. “But not today.”
In the college events, Villanova won the men’s four-mile relay in 16:18.07 as Jordan Williamsz edged Oregon’s Edward Cheserek in a wild sprint. The Villanova women won their second relay of the meet _ and fifth in the last two years _ with a 3,200 title in 8:26.36.
Georgia Tech claimed its first championship in the men’s 3,200, chasing down Villanova and beating Georgetown by two-hundredths of a second in 7:18.84.
In the 1,600 relay, LSU cruised to the men’s title in 3:02.61. Texas won the women’s race in 3:29.46.
UTech (Jamaica) won its third straight men’s 400 relay (39.27) and its second consecutive men’s 800 (1:20.97). UTech also snapped Texas A&M’s two-year winning streak in the women’s 800, winning in 1:30.80 to beat the Aggies by four-tenths of a second.
In the individual championships, LSU’s Jordan Moore won the men’s 110 hurdles in 13.84, Texas’ Morgan Snow took the women’s 100 hurdles in 13.13, Clemson’s Tevin Hester won the men’s 100 in 10.14 and Tennessee’s Felicia Brown won the women’s 100 in 11.60.
In the men’s field events, LSU’s Rodney Brown won his second straight Penn Relays discus title with a throw of 213 feet, 4 inches, Findlay’s Justin Welch repeated in the hammer throw at 224-2, and Tennessee’s Jake Blankenship defended his pole vault crown at 18-0 1/2. Lake Superior’s Robert Valdez won the high jump at 7-1, Florida’s Marquis Dendy won the triple jump at 54-4 1/2 and Middle Tennessee State’s John Ampomah won the javelin at 267-6 _ 2 inches off the Penn Relays record.