Virginia sophomore Jill Haworth charged past Penn State's Mary Rawe in the last 200 meters today and the Cavaliers successfully defended their distance medley title in the feature event of ladies' day at the 87th Penn Relays.

Haworth, the AIAW indoor 1,500-meter champion from Bowie, Md., made up a 10-yard deficit as she covered the anchor 1,600 meters -- 10 yards short of a mile -- in 4:39.5. The team broke its own American record by 7.3 seconds with a time of 11:08.7.

It was a remarkable acheivement for the Cavaliers, who lost last year's anchor star, Margaret Groos, following a training violation in New York in February. Hawarth, who ran the opening 1,200 leg in 1980, was preceded today by Yorktown High School product Linda Nicholson, 3:26.1 for the 1,200; Lisa Garrett, 53.6 for 400, and Eleanor Roosevelt graduate Vivian Scruggs, 2:10.5 for 800.

"I thought I could take her, because she wasn't making any move, but I was surprised by the fast time," said Haworth, whose career-best mile is 4:41. "Not having Margaret has made us pull together more, but it hurts us, too, because we can't run with her. I guess it balances out."

Marita Walton of Maryland won a field-event double for the second straight year. The Irish record holder retained her discus title with a throw of 163 feet 8 inches, two centimeters short of her winning effort in 1980.Then she added 19 1/2 inches to her meet record in the shot, reaching 54 feet.

Another Washington area field-event winner was Stephanie Thomas of Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge, Va., who took the high school shot at 44-8 1/4.

The first eight finishers in the college 3,000 meters bettered last year's winning time. Pace setter Betty Springs of North Carolina State broke the tape in 9:09.6, followed by Pia Palladino of Georgetown, 9:14.4, and Aileen O'Connor of Virginia, 9:18.2.

Maryland State, 46.15, and Maryland, 46.7, advanced to Friday's final in the 4x100-meter relay, but both were outclassed by Tennessee State, the heat winner in 45.56.

Central High School of Seat Pleasant, Md., had the fastest time of the day in qualifying for Friday's 4x400 high school championship. The Central quartet of Paulette Turner, Pam Guddy, Pam Carter and Karen Woods decisively defeated Vere Tech of Jamaica in 3:49.9. The team from Bladensburg (Md.) High School, anchored by Marcelle Gooding, also qualified, winning its heat in 3:52.2.

Despite two sloppy baton passes, Bladensburg gained a spot in Friday's 4x100 final in 48.7. That was the cut-off point and Central, which clocked 48.8, was left out. Defending champion Coolidge of Washington never was a factor, finishing seventh in its heat.

Central was the best of the Washington-area entries in the 4x800 relay with a nonqualifying 9:26.8. Fort Hunt of Fairfax, Va., clocked 9:31.4.

Most of the women's events were conducted during light rain that did not affect performances.But the men's distance races tonight were slowed by a downpour that also prompted a number of entries to withdraw.

David Crowe, a Wake Forest freshman from Great Britian, took the college 5,000 meters in 13:51.9. Keith Brantley, a Florida freshman, won the highly competitive college 10,000 in 29:13.5, pulling away from Boston University's Mark Kimball and Providence's Ray Tracey in the last 50 meters.