Westminster's O'Connell anchors Hoyas' Penn win

Woodlawn's Brown wins, as does Carver's Williams

Track And Field

April 25, 2004|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHILADELPHIA - Once Jesse O'Connell got the baton with a five-stride advantage, he knew the Penn Relays' Championship of America college 3,200-meter relay race was his.

Sure enough, the 6-foot-6 Georgetown senior from Westminster, Md., kept widening his lead and came through with a 1:47.7 anchor leg that carried the Hoyas to a rousing Penn triumph in a quick 7:13.75.

Not only did they record the sixth-fastest time in the 110-year history of the Penn Relays but they regained the title they won in 2002 but relinquished last year to Arkansas.

Ezra Richards (1:50.5), Ali Naijar (1:47.6) and Chris Lukezic (1:47.6) set the stage for O'Connell.

"I don't know what happened last year; maybe I just thought about it too much," said O'Connell. "This time, I just relaxed and ran. It felt so easy."

Kentucky anchor Kris Landers simply couldn't hang with O'Connell; Arkansas anchor James Hatch faded far back as the race turned into a breeze.

"Jesse's been great for us since his freshman year, but his future's even better," said Georgetown coach Ron Helmer. "We've opened his range [of competitive distances] this year. He's run some miles, he ran some 1000s indoors, he's much stronger. He'll be running 1:45 [for the 800] in a month."

That would put him in the thick of the mix for the NCAA championships, a prelude to July's Olympic Trials.

With 49,441 - America's largest track and field crowd - in the Franklin Field stands, Baltimore's Olympic sprinter, Bernard Williams, had a breeze, too.

The 2003 national 100-meter champion out of Carver High gave the national team a sizzling second leg en route to a 38.42 victory in the USA vs. The World 400 relay. Olympic teammate Jon Drummond led it off; Darvis Patton took it from Williams, and J.J. Drummond brought it home. Jamaica was a not-close second (39.02).

Another hot American team featuring top Olympic candidates went out with a blown baton exchange, which was about the only glitch in the USA relay runners' big day.

A 1:19.62 romp over runner-up Canada by the Justin Gatlin-anchored 800 relay team was just 0.94 of a second off the world record. Tyree Washington anchored USA to a 2:58.93 to 3:00.76 verdict over the world.

Quintuple 2000 Olympic medalist Marion Jones anchored clear-cut USA triumphs in the women's 400 relay (42.63) and 800 relay (1:29.40). America's women then did even better, 1-2-3 in the 1,600 relay.

For Jones, there may be as much interest in the BALCO drug case - an involvement she continually and vehemently denies - as there is in her bid to win her second straight Olympic titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

"I'm at the point where I'll let the judicial process do what it's supposed to do," she said.

Ohio State senior Joel Brown (Woodlawn) won the college men's 110 hurdles in 13.60 seconds.

Matt Mayer anchored Navy (7:39.82) to third place in the non-championship 3,200 relay.

Ex-schoolboy mile flash Alan Webb, who'd won the 5,000 meters Thursday, made it a Penn double by winning the invitation mile in 4:04.42.

Matt Broyles, a Rio Grande (Ohio) College product, took the 10-kilometer racewalk, named in honor of Al Heppner, the late Columbia, Md., athlete, in 43:48.88.

Woodlawn High's Ronald Bias was fourth in the triple jump (46-0); Arundel senior Bryan Jones was seventh in the 400-meter hurdles (54.86).

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