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Slaney wins women’s mile in impressive fashion

April 26, 1997

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Mary Slaney, applauded by her competitors before the race, rewarded them and the 46,216 fans at Franklin Field with a dazzling display of running.

Belying her 38 years, the indefatigable Slaney made her first appearance at the Penn Relays a memorable one Saturday, winning the invitational mile in 4 minutes, 26.10 seconds, eclipsing the meet record of 4:33.06 set by Alissa Harvey in 1986.

Slaney went out fast and strong, but after the first quarter-mile, she slowed because of the swirling winds.

``I was running (out front) by myself ... but I had to slow down because of the wind,″ Slaney said.

But overall, the nation’s greatest distance runner _ she has held U.S. records from 800 to 10,000 meters _ was pleased by her performance, especially so early in the outdoor season.

``I haven’t done much track work since the World Indoor Championships (in early March, when she won the silver medal in the 1,500 meters),″ Slaney said. ``I have been doing mostly distance and strength work.″

Slaney also was satisfied that she had no repercussions from the right calf soreness that caused her to miss the recent Carlsbad 5,000.

That injury, however, turned out to be a blessing for the Penn Relays.

``If I had run at Carlsbad, I probably wouldn’t have come here,″ she said.

``I’m glad I came. This was a spectacular atmosphere, just what track and field needs.″

Arkansas, the most dominant men’s team in the distance races at the Relays in recent years, won the 6,000-meter relay in 15:02.08 as sophomore Seneca Lassiter outdueled senior Kevin Sullivan of Michigan over the final 200 meters.

Lassiter, who also anchored the distance medley relay team to victory Friday, led by about 15 meters starting the final leg of the 6,000 relay. Sullivan, a Canadian Olympian, kept whittling the deficit until catching Lassiter with 300 meters left. The two ran side by side for about 100 meters, before the gritty Lassiter broke away and raced to a 15-meter victory, the Razorbacks’ fifth straight in the event and their 11th in 13 years.

``I knew the crowd would like something like that (a close race),″ Lassiter said.. ``Also, my high school coach was here and I wanted to show him something.″

Mike Power led off for Arkansas and put the Razorbacks in third place at the first handoff, behind Michigan and Colorado. Then, Ryan Wilson, winner of the 10,000 meters Thursday night, ran a strong 3:42.1 second leg and gave Arkansas a 25-meter lead.

Phillip Price, also a member of the winning distance medley relay team, lost about 10 meters of that advantage before handing off to Lassiter, the outstanding male high school performer at the Relays two years ago.

``We got all the competition we needed today″ Arkansas coach John McDonnell said.

McDonnell also said he was concerned when Sullivan ran down Lassiter on the backstretch.

``I wasn’t concerned,″ Lassiter said. ``I had a lot left over. I knew he (Sullivan) had all the energy in the world. I knew he was going to catch me, but I had a lot of energy and he didn’t. They (his teammates) did the hard work, I just brought it on home.″

Michigan finished second at 15:04.14 and Stanford was third at 15:08.95.

Sprinters and hurdlers benefitted greatly from the warm spring day and fast track, turning in some remarkable times.

The best effort came in the women’s 800-meter Olympic Development relay as the Nike International team of Celena Mondie-Milner, Nicole Green, Chryste Gaines and Inger Miller shattered the previous American record of 1:32.44 by more than 2 1-2 seconds with a clocking of 1:30.10.

Texas A&M’s men’s 400-meter relay team of Mike Price, Toya Jones, Billy Fobbs and Danny McCray won in 38.92, the second-fastest time ever by a college team at the Penn Relays, behind only Texas Christian’s 38.80 in 1991.

Nike Elite’s 400-meter relay team of Travis Grant, Henry Neal, Tod Long and Kareem-Streete Thompson, competing for the first time together, ran even faster, clocking a meet record 38.66 for the Olympic Development race. The time was the second-fastest ever at Franklin Field. The 1980 U.S. national team set the record of 38.61.

Nike International’s women’s 400-meter relay team of Tonya Lawson, Gaines, Miller and three-time Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers set Franklin Field and meet records in winning in 43.09.

``We didn’t run a perfect race,″ Devers said. ``But if we had, what would there be to improve on?″

And Anjanette Kirkland of Texas A&M won the women’s 100-meter hurdles title in 12.92, the fastest by a collegian this year.

Leroy Burrell, the former world record-holder in the 100 who has been hampered by injuries in recent years, returned to the track where he set the Penn Relays collegiate record of 10.10 in 1990, and won the Olympic Development sprint in 10.26.