PHILADELPHIA -- Through four years the women of Villanova displayed speed and durability to dominate the Penn Relays.
But Villanova's luck ran out and its nine-race winning streak ended yesterday against a relay team of Irish women.
Anita Phillpot, Geraldine Nolan, Natalie Davey and Geraldine Hendricken led Providence to a startling triumph over Villanova in the women's 4 x 1,500-meter final at the 97th Penn Relays. The Providence foursome was clocked in 17 minutes 22.30 seconds, well ahead of Villanova's second-place pace of 17:30.10.
Providence's triumph dominated Day 2 of the Penn Relays. The 17,419 fans who gathered at Franklin Field on a cloudless afternoon witnessed a glistening array of performances.
* Arkansas anchor Eric Henry nipped Georgetown's John Trautmann at the finish as Arkansas' won the men's 4,000-meter distance medley relay in 9:22.4.
* Louisiana State won the women's 400-meter relay in 43.96 and established a world-best time of 53.0 to win the women's 400-meter shuttle hurdles championship.
* Samuel Matete, a Zambian racing for Auburn, won the men's 400-meter hurdles in 49.63. Florida's Torrence Zellner, a Woodlawn High School graduate, competed in a slower section but finished second overall in 50.02.
* College long-jump titles went to George Mason's Diane Guthrie (21-6) and Northeastern Louisiana's Jerry Harrison (25-11 1/2 ).
The afternoon will be remembered for the end of Villanova's nine-race Penn Relays winning streak, which began at the 1988 event.
"We've beaten Providence week after week, year after year," Villanova coach Marty Stern said. "If anyone beat us, I'm glad it's them. The same things I say about Villanova, I'll say about Providence -- I'm proud of them."
Providence's strategy was simple: build a huge margin to hold off Villanova's Irish-born anchor, Sonia O'Sullivan. Hendricken had a 60-meter advantage beginning the anchor leg, and used a kick with 300meters remaining to solidify the winning margin.
"We don't get enjoyment out of ending the streak," Hendricken said. "We get enjoyment out of winning four nice watches. This is our first win, and, hopefully, it won't be our last."
The Arkansas and Georgetown men renewed their fierce rivalry in the distance medley relay. As expected, the race came down to the closing kick of 1,600-meter anchors -- Henry and Trautmann.
Trautmann, Georgetown's middle-distance performer, held the lead through three laps. The 6-foot-4 Henry took the lead on the final back stretch, briefly fell behind with 40 meters left, but then sprinted to the finish and crossed first as Trautmann dropped to the track.
The Arkansas foursome of John Boakes, Jimmy French, Graham Flood and Erick Henry won the race by 1/100th of a second.