New Champions Surprise Penn Relays

Philadelphia - In the fall, Lauren Matic, the 800 meter leg of Duke University's Distance Medley Relay, had two broken feet. From her crutches she told her teammates, "We are going to win a Penn Relay championship."

The promise of the Penn Relays is what kept the graduate student going through six months of rehab.

"It speaks to the power of the Relays. For track it's the NCAA and the Penn Relays. I think that in terms of the DMR this is the bigger. This puts us on the map," said Head Coach Norm Ogilvie.

The team of Meghan Leon, Lindsay Owen, Lauren Matic and Shannon Rowbury overcame intense competition to win their first ever Penn Relay's Championship.

With just over 400 meters to go, Rowbury pushed out of the tight pack past Arkansas, North Carolina and Villanova. As the 200 meter mark went byher coach'sadvice to hang behind Arkansas miler Dacia Barr paid off.

"I knew I could switch gears. Coming up the last straightaway the wind just took over and I was just trying to get to the finish line," said Rowbury.

The women's track program has come far, under the guidance of coaches Norm Ogilvie and Kevin Jermyn.

"We believed we could do it, but nothing is ever in the bag," said Rowbury.

Upset was the theme of the day beginning with the first event on the track,the Women's 400 meter Hurdle Championship. South Carolina's Tiffany Ross-Williams ran the second fastest time in Penn Relay's history to beat her teammate. Posting a time of 55.70, Ross-Williams came in just ahead of number one seed Shevon Stoddart.

"I missed last year for a red shirt. And after finishing second and third my other times here, finally a first!" said Ross-Williams.

Fast times continued in the High School Girls 400 meter Hurdle Championship. Nicole Leach of Philadelphia'sWest Catholic broke her own record, running 57.44.

Surprises were not contained on the track. Colorado State's Loree Smith won the hammer throw championship. Kimberli Barrett, last week's ACC Championship winner in the shot put, continued her success in the event.

"The small numbers were reassuring, but this was a case of quality over quantity. This is Penn and you have to take your championships when you can. They don't come around that often," said Barrett.

Newcomer to Penn Relayscompetition, freshman Kara Patterson upset the field in the College Women's Javelin Throw Championship to finish first. Her Purdue teammate, sophomore Lindsey Blaine also came from behind to finish third.

Kansas pole vaulter Amy Linnen set a new meet record of 13' 10", beating out last year's champion Stacie Manuel of Arkansas.

Chelsea Hammond of South Carolina was the one entry who followed form as she repeated her 2004 championship in the Long Jump.

Written by Shana Thayer Don