Yardies and Yanks Battle for Track Supremacy at the Penn Relays

April 26, 2009

This year's Penn Relays were billed as the "USA Versus The World," but the competition really came down to the top two nations in the sprints -- Jamaica and the United States. The Jamaican team entered the relays still riding the wave of success that they enjoyed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Because of that dominant Olympic showing, the Jamaican team had supplanted the U.S. as the globe's top producer of sprint talent.

Although the Jamaican team was missing star Usain Bolt, and the Americans were without stars Jeremy Wariner and Tyson Gay, several big names still participated, including Asafa Powell, Walter Dix, LaShawn Merritt, Shawn Crawford, Sanya Richards, Shelly-Ann Fraser, and Allyson Felix.

In the men's 4x100m relay, Olympic medalist Walter Dix ran a blazing first leg to provide the U.S. with a lead it would not relinquish. As the teams entered the final leg, Jamaica was still within relative striking distance with former world record-holder Asafa Powell running anchor. Powell, however, injured his leg only a few steps into his sprint, and immediately began limping. As a result, American anchor Darvis Patton was able to cruise to victory, finishing in an outstanding meet record time of 37.90 seconds.

In the women's 4x100m relay , the U.S. again got off to a good start, thanks to a solid opening leg from Lauryn Williams. Then, Southern California star Allyson Felix took over in the second leg, exploding down the straightaway and providing the U.S. with a solid lead. In the anchor leg, American Carmelita Jeter maintained the U.S. advantage, as she ran away from Jamaican Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser for a winning time of 42.40 seconds. The Jamaicans finished in second place with a time of 42.77 seconds.

With those two victories by the U.S. team, many of the enthusiastic Jamaican fans in attendance began to quiet down. However, their spirits would soon be revived, as the team from yard began to string together some excellent performances.

In the women's sprint medley relay, the Jamaicans trailed the entire race until anchor Kenia Sinclair passed American Hazel Clark on the final 800 meter leg. Sinclair powered to the finish, winning in a world best time of 3:34.56. Clark faded down the stretch, causing the U.S. to finish in third place behind Russia.

But the most impressive victory of the day may have come in the collegiate women's 4x400m relay.

For the first time in the history of that race a Jamaican college team, UTech, was included in the field. The remaining participants consisted of several top Division I NCAA women's track schools. Nevertheless, the UTech team stormed out to an early lead, and crushed the NCAA teams as if they were mere high school programs. UTech won the race by at least twenty meters, finishing with a time of 3:36.61. When one considers the national and international recruiting advantage enjoyed by the NCAA schools, the UTech victory becomes even more impressive.

Despite those two victories for the Jamaicans, the Americans again rebounded with two additional wins of their own.

In the women's 4x400m relay, U.S. women Monica Hargrove, Natasha Hastings, Felix, and Richards, dominated the rest of the field, comfortably winning in a time of 3:23.08. The U.S. defeated the second-place Jamaicans despite Hastings losing her shoe and having to run her entire leg barefoot.

In the men's 4x400m relay, the U.S. was even more dominant, as Olympic gold Medalist LaShawn Merritt ran a solid 44.26 anchor leg to give the U.S. the victory. The American winning time was 2:59.78.

However, the most exciting race of the day - the men's distance medley - came down to two other countries, as the Kenyan team overtook the Canadian team down the stretch in a photo finish. The U.S. team, led by "lost boy" Lopez Lomong, finished third.

Overall, it was a excellent day at the track for the U.S. and Jamaica, as both teams now realize that this burgeoning rivalry will only grow more intense at the upcoming World Championships.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

1 comment:

  1. bomba claat! we gon get it back at de worlds . . .


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