Men's 4x800m Relay Team Defends Championship of America Title on Final Day of Penn Relays
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Virginia’s 4x800m relay team defended its Penn Relays Championship of America title in front of 48,836 fans Saturday afternoon, edging runner-up Penn State by less than a second. The quartet of sophomore Brett Johnson, junior All-American Lance Roller, freshman ACC Champion Anthony Kostelac and sophomore NCAA Champion Robby Andrews combined to earn a time of 7:12.15, while Penn State crossed in 7:12.90. Andrews was named the Penn Relays College Men’s Athlete of the Meet for Relay Events.
The Cavaliers’ time ranks second in the 117-year history of the Penn Relays and trails only Penn State’s legendary meet record of 7:11.17 from 1985. It also shatters Virginia’s 30-year-old school record, set at 7:14.59 in 1981, and is the top time in the NCAA this season.
“There is no other meet in the country or even in the world that is so exciting,” director of track and field Jason Vigilante said. “We got the best out of ourselves today because of the teams that pushed us this far. I feel very proud to coach these guys.”
“To win Penn Relays once is not an easy task,” Roller said. “I have friends and family back at home that would die to get a wagon wheel. To win it twice in a row is unbelievable and to win it with this group of guys is crazy.”
Johnson started the race battling Arkansas, Penn State and UConn, before finishing the opening leg with a 1:50.97 split. Roller then turned in a time of 1:48.14, keeping the Cavaliers in the front pack. Texas A&M worked its way into the mix, but Kostelac maintained position throughout the third leg, earning a time of 1:47.60 to put Andrews in position to battle his former Team USA teammate – Penn State’s Casimir Loxsom – on the final leg.
“We have tremendous faith in each other,” Johnson said. “As soon as Robby gets the stick, its over. It’s amazing what this kid can do. If we were unsure about his kick, by this point we should be sure. As a teammate, I have the most confidence in him.”
Loxsom pushed the pace for Penn State throughout the final two laps, but Andrews held on before using his trademark kick in the final 150 meters to edge Loxsom for the victory.
“Lance and I are back from last year, but we replaced two seniors with a sophomore and a freshman, so that changed the dynamic of the relay a little bit,” Andrews said. “But everybody is a superstar out there. We came in here on a mission, we were not going to lose this race.”
The victory marked the second-straight for Virginia’s men in the 4x800m, while it was the Cavaliers’ sixth Championship of America title on the men’s side.
“Nothing really compares to running in the Penn Relays on a Saturday,” Andrews said. “As great as Friday is, running on Saturday is that much more special.”
In other events today, junior Andy Fahringer finished third in the men’s javelin championship, throwing 233′ 6″. William & Mary’s Brandon Heroux won the title with a mark of 239′ 9″, while Duke’s John Austin finished runner up with a throw of 233′ 11″.
Virginia will now take a break for exams before heading to the ECAC/IC4A Championships and the Carolina Qualifier on Friday and Saturday May 13-14.