Duke finally overtakes UNC at Penn Relays

Distance medley victory a first for Devils women

Track And Field

April 29, 2005|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHILADELPHIA - Their celebration was years in the making.

After all, Duke's women runners had been chasing archrival North Carolina forever. Or so it seemed.

But everything turned around yesterday at the 111th running of the Penn Relays. With 25,183 Franklin Field fans focusing on every stride of the women's distance medley Championship of America final, the Blue Devils finally crashed through to a historic triumph.

It took Meghan Leon, Lindsay Owen, Lauren Matic and anchor runner Shannon Rowbury 11 minutes, 10.18 seconds to turn the sands of time.

Rowbury's 4:43.4 for the 1,600-meter portion held off the rush of UNC anchor Erin Donohue, who ran a 4:39.8, to give the Duke women their first victory in their school's long history of racing at Penn.

And when it was all over, the Duke women did a little dance of delight.

"With 200 left, I knew I could do it. I just knew it," exulted Rowbury.

"We'd come too far, worked too hard, to let anything happen."

"I've been around a long time, but this is pretty amazing," said Matic, who'd battled back from two broken bones in her leg last year. "It sure was worth waiting for."

North Carolina, which had won this race in 2001, 2002 and 2003, settled for second in 11:11.48, with 2004 champion Villanova third in 11:12.75.

Maryland high school runners showed plenty of speed, too.

Eleanor Roosevelt of Landover had a big day, grabbing a third in the girls distance medley final and advancing to a title round of the 400 relay.

The Championship of America high school distance medley crown went to Warwick Valley (N.Y.) in 11:47.55, but Eleanor Roosevelt ran a solid 12:06.45 in third place, running the 10 laps with Marika Walker, Patricia Anyanwu, Tameka Jamieson and Dominique Lockhart (5:07.4 anchor.).

"Everybody knows us as a sprint school, but we can run the distances, too, and this race proved it," said Eleanor Roosevelt coach Larry Colbert. "This was the first time we ever entered this race, and I think we did pretty darned good."

Devin Williams, the sensational Towson Catholic sophomore, was scheduled to run the girls high school mile, but scratched. Instead, she ran a blistering 55.6-second lap for the Towson Catholic 1,600 relay team, which then failed to finish.

Just one U.S. team - Hermitage of Richmond, Va. - gained the eight-school Championship of America girls 400 relay final today, along with seven teams from Jamaica.

But four Maryland teams also ran their way into today's finals, giving them another chance to prove they rate with the nation's best.

Eleanor Roosevelt, running with Antionette Arrington, Carliesha Meakes, Bever-Leigh Holloway and Anyanwu (47.91), advanced to the large-school 400 relay final, along with the Largo team of Kamilah Bossett, Tanisha Owens, Jacia Montgomery and Michaylin Golladay (48.04).

Moving into the small schools 400 relay final were the Edmondson foursome of Shawnte Dixon, Diane Hunter, Sherie Brown and Cierra Layne (49.60), and Long Reach's Devon Miles, Jamese Cobb, Tiffani Long and Janay Woolridge (50.11).

Other top performances in the morning series of girls small-school 400 relay sections included McDonogh's 50.46, Frederick Douglass' 50.74, Mergenthaler Vo-Tech's 51.37, Mount DeSales' 51.59, Bishop McNamara's 51.60, Laurel's 52.52, Bryn Mawr's 52.69, Digital Harbor's 52.72, Poolesville's 53,23, Pikesville's 53.40, Seton Keough's 53.41, Bladensburg's 53.64, Oakland Mills' 53.66 and Reservoir's 53.86.

Among the other fastest large-school 400 relay teams were Meade, 48.88; Western, 48.95; C.H. Flowers, 49.52; Friendly, 49.84; Fallston, 50.08; Woodlawn, 50.54; Walter Johnson, 50.83; Urbana, 50.85; Middletown, 51.40; Winston Churchill, 51.43; Sherwood, 52.13, and Chesapeake, 52.28.

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