Princeton, Penn State eyeing victory in DMR at Penn Relays

ASSOCIATED PRESS Princeton's DMR team of Donn Cabral (foreground left), Tom Hopkins (top left), Michael Williams (second from right) and Joe Stilin celebrate win in DMR last year at Penn Relays.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Princeton's DMR team of Donn Cabral (foreground left), Tom Hopkins (top left), Michael Williams (second from right) and Joe Stilin celebrate win in DMR last year at Penn Relays.
Posted: April 24, 2013

LAST APRIL, Princeton won the men's distance medley relay at the Penn Relays for the first time. The Tigers also won the 4 x mile, for the second straight year.

At the recent NCAA Indoor championships, they finished first again in the DMR, just ahead of Penn State. The Nittany Lions have never won the DMR at the Carnival. But they are the defending champs in the 4 x 800 meters and sprint medley. They'll be the two favorites in the DMR Friday afternoon at Franklin Field, after the women get things going on Thursday.

At nationals, Princeton concentrated solely on the relays, while the Nits also competed individually. It can make a difference.

"We've got lots of people to pick from," said Beth Alford-Sullivan, PSU's director of track and field and cross country, who also will bring another formidable women's contingent with her. "We've got some choosing to do."

In August, she'll coach the United States women's team at the World Championships.

"There's definitely a little bit of hunger," said Penn State senior Casimir Loxsom, who ran on the 4 x 800 and SMR and now will also do a leg on the DMR and 4 x 400. "[The DMR] is a big focus for us. We have the potential to win five relays [including the 4 x 400 and 4 x mile]. We have the personnel to excel in all of them."

The Tigers are expected to go for two repeats, and maybe go for the 4 x 800, as well.

"Winning the indoor nationals was like defending our title," said Princeton junior Michael Williams, who took a pair of victory laps with three teammates at the Penn Relays 12 months ago. "We'd like to add . . . to that."

Minnesota, which was third at nationals, won't be here. But some potential contenders include Indiana, which was fourth but hasn't won the DMR at Penn since 1942; fifth-place Villanova, which was first at the Carnival in 2011 and 2009; Oregon, the 2010 champ, which has the fastest competitors at 400 and 800 (NCAA indoor champ Elijah Greer), and perhaps Stanford, which was eighth indoors but won at Penn only in 2001 (4 x 800 and 4 x mile).

Relay splits

In light of last week's bombings at the Boston Marathon, security understandably will be even more of a priority. Yet, as was emphasized at Monday's news conference by the person in charge of that, it always has been.

"We've had a lot more since 9/11," said Maureen Rush, the vice president of public safety/superintendent of Penn's police force. "Spectators want to know we're all over it. It's not only a safety reality, it's the perception. It's the same things that have been in effect for many years. We just want to reiterate the point. We're not saying it wasn't enough in the past, but absolutely it'll be [enforced] more rigorously."

While she couldn't get into specifics, Rush did acknowledge that Philadelphia police also will be involved. She said that for athletes it will be similar to going through security at airports. Spectators will not be allowed to bring in any large coolers, bags or backpacks. But there will be no changes "around the perimeter." The list of rules can be found on the Penn Relays website . . .

Among those being honored in the Wall of Fame Class is the 1969 Villanova 2-mile relay team (Andy O'Reilly, Chris Mason, Marty Liquori and Frank Murphy), which set a Carnival record of 7 minutes, 20.1 seconds, a time that was not bettered on conversion until 1977, the second year after the switch to metric distances. It's the first men's relay to be inducted that includes three individual Wall of Famers . . . Another Wildcat, Michelle Bennett, one of the few women to win seven watches, also got in. She ran on four consecutive DMR champs, and three straight 4 x 800 meter teams, anchoring in 1989 and '91, the latter her senior season. 'Nova's 1988 DMR team is the first on the women's side to have three Wall of Famers (including Vicki Huber and Kathy Franey).

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