NC Wins Penn Relays Distance Medley
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ In a virtual repeat of last year’s distance medley relay, the North Carolina women put away Stanford with a solid anchor leg to win Thursday at the Penn Relays.
Shalane Flanagan, the Atlantic Coast Conference indoor champion in the mile and 3,000 meters, took a lead of a few meters in the 1,600 and stretched it to at least 50 meters as the Tar Heels won with a time of 11 minute 0.33 seconds.
``We hope to be doing this for a couple more years,″ coach Michael Whittlesey said.
Flanagan and Alice Schmidt were freshman last year when the North Carolina women won their first Penn Relays title by taking the same event. This year, they were joined by freshman Erin Donohue and sophomore Anissa Gainey.
``I’ve been running here since freshman year in high school and been coming here to watch even longer,″ said Donohue, from nearby Haddonfield, N.J. ``I didn’t feel a lot of pressure because I knew we had a good team. I just had to run the way I know how.″
Cold weather forced the Tar Heels to scale back their aspirations.
``We had originally hoped to go for the world record,″ Schmidt said. ``Obviously, our plans changed once we got here. We’re used to much warmer weather than this in North Carolina.″
Like last year, the race came down to Flanagan and Stanford’s Lauren Fleshman in the final leg. Stanford finished second Thursday at 11:10. Georgetown was third at 11:18.12.
Georgetown held the lead after the first leg, but Gainey put in a 52.9-second 400 to give the Tar Heels a slight lead, which Schmidt maintained and Flanagan extended until the finish.
``We really had to push through that (the weather) today,″ Schmidt said. ``It kind of took something out of us, but it couldn’t take away our drive to compete.″
The weather cleared just before Carolina’s winning race. Until then, the athletes had to battle a steady, cold drizzle that forced the pole-vaulting competition indoors and sent a few runners to the ground on the slick track.
South Carolina dominated the women’s 400-meter hurdles, taking four of the top five spots. Leshinda Demus won with a time of 56.64 seconds. Frances Santin of Cal State Northridge was nearly a second back, followed by four South Carolina runners.
Syracuse’s Nicole Kendrick won big in discus, breaking an event record with a throw of 170 feet, 11 inches and beating her closest competitor by nearly 20 feet. The old record of 170-11 was set by Melinda Wirtz of Kent State in 1993.
Laura Gerraughty, a North Carolina freshman, won the shot put with a throw of 56 feet, 4 1/2 inches.
In the long jump, Elva Gouldbourne of Auburn, who holds the college indoor record, won with at 19-7 1/2.
The South Carolina women also advanced to the finals of the 400 relay with the fastest time in the qualifying heats, 44.86. LSU was .26 seconds slower.