Jamaica successfully defends title at Penn Relays

There was no repeat appearance by Olympic champion Usain Bolt in the 4x100m Relay, but the Jamaicans still had enough to beat the US, 38.33 to 38.46, in the 117th Annual Penn Relays in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Asafa Powell, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter and anchor Steve Mullings won the title ahead of US’ Walter Dix, Wallace Spearmon, Trell Krimmons and Mike Rodgers.

The Jamaicans joined world record-holder Bolt in setting the world 4×100 record of 37.10 in 2008. Only Bolt was part of the Jamaican squad that won the 2010 Penn Relays in 37.90, Bolt with an 8.79 anchor leg.

Carter took command on the third leg with Mullings holding off Rodgers for the victory.

Powell, a former Olympic 100 meter champion, ran on an uncustomary lead-off position after taking heed of a long-time suggestion made by Frater.

Jamaica’s relay lineup created an intriguing opening leg matchup with 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin returning to action at Franklin Field. His squad finished third in 38.66.

“Over the years (Frater) has been telling me that if I lead off, it will be a totally different race,” Powell said. “I’ve always run the anchor leg, I just wanted to try something new.”

More than 180 athletes from 16 nations took part in the relays, but Jamaica’s men and America’s women shined brightest at Franklin Field. Saturday’s total attendance of 48,836 brought the three-day total to 110,087.

Kenia Sinclair anchored the Jamaica women’s Sprint Medley Relay with a 1:57.06 split on the 800m leg to seal the win in 3:34.64 – eighth hundredths off the World best set by Jamaica at the 2009 Penn Relays, with Sinclair also on the anchor.

The Jamaicans took the lead on a 51.3 third 400m leg by 2008 Olympic 400m Hurdles champion Melaine Walker after opening 200m legs by Simone Facey and Kerron Stewart to win for the fourth consecutive year.

The Jamaicans were .08 of a second off the world record set in their 2009 victory, when Sinclair’s anchor leg was .37 slower than this year.

Other Highlights

Ristananna Tracey of Jamaica’s Edwin Allen earned High School Girls Athlete of Meet for Relay Events. Tracey ran a 2:03.17 anchor in the 4x800m Relay for the fastest split in meet history and a 8:39.22 clocking for the No. 2 time. She also turned in the fastest split of 52.2 in the 4 x 400m Relay.

At least six Caribbean countries participated in the relays. The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines also took part in the three-day event, considered the longest uninterrupted collegiate track event in the United States.

With over 500, Jamaica had the largest contingent of athletes and officials at the event.

After years of explorations and negotiations, the leading athletic secondary school in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS), was finally able to compete in the prestigious games, representing the island-nations’ participation for the very first time.

Though the school was not able to make it to the final, it won its heats in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.

RESULTS

Men

4x100m Relay: 1. Jamaica (Asafa Powell, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, Steve Mullings) 38.33 seconds; 2. USA Red 38.43; 3. USA Blue 38.66; 4. Trinidad and Tobago 39.18, 5; Canada Red 39.32, 6; Canada Black 39.85; 7. Britain 40.82; DNF: Germany

4x400m Relay: 1. USA Red (Quentin Summers, Jamal Torrence, Bershawn Jackson, Angelo Taylor) 3:02.40; 2. Bahamas 3:02.79, 3; Grenada 3:04.69; 4. USA Blue 3:05.99; 5. Jamaica 3:06.40; 6. Venezuela 3:09.06; 7. Canada 3:09.31; 8. Dominican Republic 3:09.45; 9. Kenya 3:11.17

Distance Medley Relay: 1. Morocco (Mohammed Moustaoui, Marouan Maadadi, Mohammed Laalou, Amine Laalou) 9:17.48; 2. Australia 9:17.56; 3. USA Red 9:18.09; 4. Kenya 9:31.00; 5. Canada 9:35.46; 6. Ethiopia 9:44.96

Women

4x100m Relay: 1. USA Red (Lauryn Williams, Allyson Felix, Marshevet Myers, Carmelita Jeter) 42.28; 2. USA Blue 42.64; 3. Jamaica 42.74; 4. Caribbean All-Stars 43.38; 5. Brazil 43.77; 6. Germany 43.89

4x400m Relay: 1. USA Red (Debbie Dunn, Allyson Felix, Natasha Hastings, Sanya Richards-Ross) 3:22.92; 2. USA Blue 3:23.17; 3. Jamaica 3:23.82; 4. World All-Stars 3:30.40; 5. Canada 3:33.36; 6. Grenada 3:36.03

Sprint Medley Relay: 1. Jamaica (Simone Facey, Kerron Stewart, Melaine Walker, Kenia Sinclair) 3:34.64; 2. USA Red 3:37.81; 3. USA Blue 3:43.17; 4. Russia 3:44.04; 5. Nigeria 3:47.09

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