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Walt Murphy's News
Last Updated: June 2, 2003

Memories from Penn
"Uncle" Marty Stern

"Uncle" Marty, who grew up in West Philly, led Villanova to 20 Relays titles(3-men, 17-women) during his time as head coach

"My father, who went to Penn, took me to my first Penn Relays in 1939 when I was 3 years old, and I haven't missed too many since then."

"I didn't start running at Penn until I went to West Chester--we won the State Teachers College race at Penn 3 years in a row(1956-1958). I coached at a number of high schools in the Philadelphia area, but all I ever wanted to be was the head coach at Villanova."

"I would always sit by the Villanova group in the South stands, where the sun never shines, and watch Jumbo (Elliott) and his pals. All those Irish businessmen would come on Friday in their hats and coats and leave after watching the distance medley at around 3pm. I watched everything Jumbo did and noticed how well his athletes acted and how well they dressed."

"When I finally got to Villanova, I wanted to sit in the sun with the Jamaicans, but I sat where Jumbo sat, where it's freezing and you can't take proper splits."

"Of all the races we won, every single one was the biggest thrill at the time. And we always had the same routine, a prayer before and after each race."

"One of the more stressful Relays was in 1991. I had made an early (and apparently unpopular) decision to have Cheri Goddard(Kenah) run on the 4x800 in place of Michelle Torelli, who I didn't think was running well. (Torelli had led off the winning team in 1990). None of the women would talk to me in the days leading up to Penn. We had our pre-race prayer 90-minutes before the 4x800 and went back up into the stands. Bennett, who was good friends with Torelli, was still mad at me, and I was moping.

"Finally, I called Bennett over and said, `Who's better, you or Nikita Beasley (Florida's dangerous anchor)'? She reluctantly agreed that Beasley was better. `If you have a 6-meter lead when you get the stick, can she beat you? She quickly said `No!'. I told her, you pick any three runners for the team. She picked Torelli, who had warmed up, Goddard was OK with the decision, and we won the race! It taught me that it pays to listen to your athletes."

(From E.T. at the time: "On the opening leg, Irene Ruopoli (2:10.0) gave Villanova a slight lead...Sonia O'Sullivan (2:04.4) took back the lead (from Florida)...and handed off with a 7-meter lead. Michelle Torelli (2:09.5) extended the lead slightly over Florida and Georgetown....Beasley, along with Steffanie Smith, went out in about 55 seconds to catch up to Bennett. Beasley made a move for the lead on the final backstretch, but Bennett (2:05.6) held her off and pulled away for an "easy" win, the 4th in a row for the Lady Wildcats, and the 7th Relays watch in 7 tries for Bennett. Kathy Franey also won 7 watches while at Villanova)