|Walt Murphy's News|
Last Updated: June 2, 2003
Memories from Penn
In a classic "David vs Goliath" race, the University of Connecticut upset Arkansas to win the men's Distance Medley in 2000
"I remember two days before heading to Penn our DMR was milling around the track after practice and I said to Coach (Greg) Roy, "You know, we really could...'I trailed off at the end. We all knew what I was thinking but none of us wanted to actually say it. The thought of beating Arkansas, of actually winning the Penn Relays, was still very much a dream.
The same four guys had finished 4th indoors at NCs in the DMR so we knew we were good but we were all local kids and not nearly on the level that the Arkansas guys were on. The race couldn't have played out any better; Our first two legs (Kevin Jensen-2:56.0 and Haven Barnes-46.9) kept us in the race and our 800 guy, Elliott Blount, ran the fastest split(1:47.6) and gave me the baton side by side with Sharif Karie. Karie got the baton behind me and beat me indoors and was the HS mile national champ when we were seniors in HS (his PR was 14 seconds faster than mine in HS) and I was very much aware of who he was and what he had done. I was content to let Sharif lead and take my chances with a kicker's race and, after a first 800 of 2:06, it became evident that he too thought he would win in a kick. The slow first 800 allowed about six other teams back into the race and with 600 to go things were bunching up. I made sure to stay up front, either in the lead or on the leaders' shoulder, covering every move.
With just over 200 meters to go I went. The last 200, because of the slow start, was pretty much all out. Coming off the turn I glanced back and Sharif was right there, on my shoulder. As my legs began to lock up I concentrated on one thing only- getting to the finish line. Eventually, after what felt like a five minute one hundered meters, I hit the line with Sharif .03 behind me. Neither one of us were able to gain more than an inch on each other in the last 200.
The race was won with 215 meters to go when I made my move. If Sharif had gone first, he probably would have won. I remember looking up after we won and seeing my teammates running straight at me from the paddick area. They were in a full sprint and I could barely stand up. They grabbed me and basically pulled me on a victory lap.
It was such a euphoric feeling to have actually won. I remember feeling like everything was in a haze, but part of that was probably because we had just closed in 54 seconds and my legs were screaming at me to stop running. To this day, that was the most amazing win I've ever been a part of. Although I was running well before the race, the win gave me a lot of confidence. That season my PR improved from 3:50 to 3:39. I won Big East, New Englands and IC4as and qualified for the Olympic Trials."