PHILADELPHIA -- The easy part was winning the race. The hard part for Villanova senior Sonia O'Sullivan was completing the victory lap at yesterday's 97th Penn Relays.
"I was wondering why I was having trouble getting my legs moving," O'Sullivan said. "But then I remembered, that if you run an anchor leg, you don't get much rest."
O'Sullivan, Ireland's gift to Philadelphia's Main Line, ran a sizzling pace on a grueling 1,600-meter anchor leg to lead Villanova to a come-from-behind victory over Tennessee in the 4,000-meter women's distance medley. The team of Nnenna Lynch, Michelle Bennett, Cheri Goddard and O'Sullivan led Villanova to its fifth straight victory in the event, in 10 minutes, 55.98 seconds, before 12,531 at Franklin Field.
Villanova's dominance on the opening day of the Penn Relays was expected. What was unexpected was a strong showing by two Baltimore-area high school runners. Stephanie Morningstar, a 17-year-old junior from Westminster High School, finished second in the girls 1,500-meter championship. Jennifer Howard, a 17-year-old senior from Fallston High School, finished fifth against a strong field in the girls 3,000-meter championship.
Also yesterday, Louisiana State University senior Donalda Duprey, a 1986 Commonwealth Games silver medalist from Canada, won the women's 400-meter hurdles in 56.99 seconds.
Maryland high school runners made their marks early. Charmene Fields, of Central High School in Seat Pleasant, opened the meet by winning the girls 400-meter hurdles in 60.33 seconds. Woodlawn's Erin Graham finished seventh in 65.86.
Westminster's Morningstar gamely hung on to second place in the girls 1,500-meter run, finishing in 4:40.5. Clare Quaderer, of Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, N.Y., won the race in 4:35.5. Amanda White, the Maryland State Class AAA cross-country champion from Dulaney High School, led the race for one lap but faded to ninth.
The fifth-place finish by Howard of Fallston also was impressive, considering she recorded a personal-best time of 10:00.4.