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PHILADELPHIA - The Penn State men's sprint medley relay left the 2017 Penn Relays with a bitter taste in their mouth, as they thought they were going to leave Franklin Field champions - only to see another team run a faster time in a later section. Fast forward to almost one year later to the day - the Nittany Lions are finally champions.
"Another exciting day for Penn State at the Penn Relays," head coach John Gondak said. "The results we had today show we are really starting to build momentum as we head toward championship season on both sides of the program. The great thing about our program is we have balance across all events as you can see in today's results. We had athletes place in the top-five in just about every event we competed in today - I am very proud of all of them. Then to finish it off with a victory in the sprint medley relay is outstanding."
"We are looking forward to finishing things off with a great day three tomorrow at Franklin Field," Gondak added.
"I am so happy for this relay, because last year in the same event we won our heat, but a team from the second heat ended up beating our time," Isaiah Harris said. "We started celebrating and we came back after the second heat finished and they said, `Sorry, no the team in the second heat ran a second-faster.'"
"That hurt and we know we wanted that wheel. We have been waiting for to this meet and get the wheel that we thought we deserved all along," Harris added.
The Nittany Lions opened the men's Championship of America sprint medley relay with Xavier Smith (Douglassville, Pa.) running the first 200-meter dash leg, then Malik Moffett (Erie, Pa.) took over the second 200-meter dash leg before handing off the baton to Kier Miner (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) on the 400-meter dash leg.
Heading into the final leg (800-meters), Harris found himself in sixth-place, but behind the third-fastest 800-meter run leg in Penn Relays history (1:44.74), Harris crossed the finish line first to give the Nittany Lions the long sought-after wheel in a school-record time of 3:15.25 to cap off Friday's action for Penn State at the 124th running of the Penn Relays. Clemson finished second in the race with a time of 3:15.52. The previous PSU men's sprint medley relay school record was set by the quartet of Aaron Nadolsky, Brady Gehret, Casimir Loxsom, and Ryan Foster in 2007.
For the Penn State men, the wheel was their seventh in the sprint medley relay and first since 2015 (Smith also ran the opening leg in 2015) and in program history, the Nittany Lion men have captured 32 Penn Relays Wheels.
Asked what he was thinking about when he was running that final leg, Harris said, "As I am running around the track all I can hear is `Go, Penn State!' and that is really encouraging."
On the day, the Nittany Lion men were the second Penn State sprint medley relay to tally a school record outing.
Prior to the Penn State men taking to the track, the Nittany Lion women crossed the finish line just under the previous school record of 3:47.90 set back in 2007 by the quartet of Aleesha Barber, Dominique Blake, Shana Cox, and Briene Simmons.
The women's sprint medley relay of Keianna Albury (Eleuthera, Bahamas), Kiara Lester (Wenonah, N.J.), Deja Davis (Shelby Charter Township, Mich.), and Danae Rivers (Derby, Conn.) finished third in the Championship of America section with their time of 3:47.80. Rivers anchored the Nittany Lions with a time of 2:02.98.
Along with the sprint medley relays, a trio of Nittany Lion relays took to the track in their respective Championship of America sections.
The relay of Brooke-Lynn Williams (Norton, Mass.), Albury, Quenee Dale (Ypsilanti, Mich.), and Lester finished seventh in the women's 4x100-meter relay Championship of America section with their time of 45.35.
The quartet of Grace Trucilla (Erie, Pa.), Marissa Sheva (Sellersville, Pa.), Jordan Williams (Sharon, Pa.), and Victoria Crawford (State College, Pa.) placed sixth in the women's 4x1500-meter relay Championship of America race with their time of 18:15.31.
The men's distance medley relay of Owen Wing (State College, Pa.), Jordan Makins (Perth, Australia), Billy McDevitt (Newtown Square, Pa.), and Colin Abert (Easton, Pa.) took sixth in the Championship of America section with their time of 9:41.76.
In addition, a trio of Nittany Lion relays qualified for their respective Championship of America sections on Saturday.
The men's 4x100-meter relay of Will Henderson (Baltimore, Md.), Anton Porter (Bronx, N.Y.), Smith, and Moffett ran 40.85 to place sixth and advance to the Championship of America race on Saturday at 1:35 p.m.
The women's 4x200-meter relay of Davis, Albury, Lester, and Maddie Holmberg (Greensburg, Pa.) ran the third-fastest time in qualifying (1:35.41) to advance to the Championship of America race on Saturday at 2:25 p.m.
The men's 4x400-meter relay of Miner, Smith, Gary Ross III (Fort Washington, Md.), and Samuel Reiser (Melbourne, Australia) ran 3:10.55 to place seventh and advance to the Championship of America race on Saturday at 5:55 p.m.
In the field events, Penn State tallied personal-best performances across the board, including in the college section of the men's high jump, as junior Devin Bradham (Williamstown, N.J.) cleared an outdoor personal-best height of 6-11.50 to place second. His mark also ties his career-best height from the 2018 indoor season.
The championship section of the men's shot put saw a pair of Nittany Lions finishing in the top-five. For the Penn State men in the championship shot put section, Jon Yohman (New Wilmington, Pa.) finished fourth with a season-best toss of 58-10.5 and freshman Ben Peterson (Solon, Ohio) finished fifth with an outdoor personal-best toss of 58-0.25.
In the college section of the men's shot put, freshman Luke Grodeska (Neptune, N.J.) finished first with his personal-best toss of 55-8.75.
Also in the men's field events, Moffett finished fifth in the championship section of the long jump with his leap of 24-5.
Rosemary Campbell (Erie, Pa.) finished fourth in the college section of the women's javelin throw with her personal-best toss of 149-3.
The Nittany Lions return to action for the final day of the 124th Penn Relays at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 28.