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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sabrina Southerland led Georgetown to the Penn Relays women's distance medley relay title Thursday, running a speedy third leg to help the Hoyas dethrone four-time defending champion Villanova.
Georgetown finished in 11 minutes, 12.73 seconds for its third title in the event and first since 2011. The Hoyas led by a wide margin for most of the race, beating second-place Oklahoma State by five seconds and third-place Villanova by nine seconds in the marquee event of the first full day of the country's oldest and largest track meet.
"It's awesome," said Georgetown anchor Katrina Coogan, a fifth-year senior. "We've been coming to this meet since my freshman year. And it feels like every year we come and know we can compete but we've never been able to hold up the wheel at the end of the day. So this is really special."
Villanova, which ran three sophomores and a freshman, held a small lead after the opening 1,200-meter leg. But Georgetown surged ahead on the strength of Heather Martin's 400 leg (55.12 seconds) and extended its advantage on Southerland's 800 (2:05.22).
Coogan ran the 1,600 anchor leg in 4:44.07 for the Hoyas, who were coming off an NCAA indoor title in the DMR. Andrea Keklak ran the opening 1,200 leg in 3:28.33 at a chilly, rainy Franklin Field.
"I normally like having someone to chase down in the 400," Martin said. "So I was actually glad when I didn't get the baton in the lead because it gave me someone to chase. I think that helped push me."
Georgetown had been foiled in recent years by Villanova, which had won the last six relays it entered heading into Thursday's DMR.
That made the convincing win even more special for the Hoyas, who relied on their experience to overcome the tough elements to cruise past their Big East rival and an Oklahoma State team led by NCAA indoor mile champ Kaela Edwards.
Dartmouth finished in fourth place and UConn came in fifth.
In large part due to the weather, Georgetown's winning time was the slowest since 1980 and the second-slowest in the 37-year history of the event.
"We were talking when we were warming up that this was pretty standard weather for Penn," said Keklak, another fifth-year senior. "Somehow it's always cold and rainy for some reason. But I kind of enjoy it in a weird way. Part of showing up to a track meet like the Penn Relays is being able to run your best no matter the circumstances."
In other events, Harvard's Nikki Okwelogu won the women's shot put at 56 feet, 3 3/4 inches in her first Penn Relays. Duke's Megan Clark edged teammate Madison Heath to win the women's pole vault at 13-9 1/4 and Findlay's Erica King took the women's hammer throw at 192-2.
Albany's Grace Claxton won the women's hurdles in 56.69 seconds, St. Augustine's Shakinah Brooks claimed the women's long jump at 20-0 1/2 and Kelly Yanucil of Mount St. Mary's won the women's javelin at 164-4.
The meet continues with a full slate of high school and college events Friday and Saturday. The 17th annual USA vs. the World competition will also be held Saturday with several well-known professionals, including Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Sanya Richards-Ross and DeeDee Trotter, slated to compete as they prepare for the US Olympics trials in July.
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