For 16 straight years, from 1966 through 1981, the distance medley at the Penn Relays was the exclusive property of Villanova. Georgetown ended that run in 1982, but the Hoyas are still trying to find the formula for another victory celebration.
Instead, it is Arkansas that is assuming dynastic proportions. The Razorbacks, with freshman Roddie Haley running a 44.2 quarter and Irishman Paul Donovan holding off George Mason's Abdi Bile down the stretch, today won the event for the third straight year in 9:28.2.
The favored Hoyas finished third, and their celebrating for the afternoon was confined to Ray Humphrey's win in the long jump, first by a Georgetown athlete in that event in 61 years.
Another D.C.-area celebrant was Kirk Young of Central High in Seat Pleasant, Md. Young cut 6 1/2 seconds off his personal best to win the high school 1,500 meters in 3:56.4.
Odessa (Tex.) Junior College, with Calvin Long running a 44.4 third quarter, set a national junior college record of 3:03.2 in qualifying for Saturday's 4x400 championship.
Arkansas came here with hopes of capturing four of the eight major relays and nothing that happened today altered that idea. With Haley running the second leg, the Razorbacks set a meet record of 39.47 seconds in the trials of the 4x100-meter relay and also qualified for the 4x200 final, although Haley admitted he was saving things for the distance medley.
Twenty minutes after that race, Haley still was lying on his back, trying to recover his breath. He never had run faster than 45.1 and, to show the importance of his effort today, the next best quarter in the distance medley was the 46.1 by Chip Jenkins, the Georgetown Prep product running for fifth-place Villanova.
"I gave it all I had in that one," Haley said, gasping. "It didn't feel that fast and when they said it was 44.2, I thought they had the wrong time. Now I believe it."
Arkansas, fourth after Canadian Doug Consiglio ran 2:56.2 for the 1,200-meter leg, was five meters in front when Haley handed the baton to Gary Taylor for the 800 leg. Taylor, running 1:51.0, extended the margin to 20 meters before he sent Donovan off on the 1,600.
Despite that big edge, Donovan was given some anxious moments as Bile, an Olympian from Somalia, slashed into the deficit on the final turn. Donovan looked behind him, then drove for the finish line. He won by seven meters, timed in 3:56.8. Bile ran the fastest split of the day, 3:55.2.
"I was worried about him, because he's run a lot faster than I have," Donovan said. "I was just trying to concentrate on getting to the finish line as fast as I could."
John Cook, George Mason's coach, was disappointed, particularly with the 2:54.6 opening leg by Ibrahim Okash, who was bumped around and was third at the first pass.
"I expected a better leadoff, but when you bring a freshman over from Somalia and put him in the Penn Relays, it isn't easy," Cook said. "We loaded it and gave it a whirl. At least I feel better about beating Georgetown than finishing third."
Miles Irish had the Hoyas tied for the lead after the 1,200, clocking 2:54.2, and Pat Mann kept them close in 46.8. But they fell out of contention on the 800 leg, as Lloyd Gellineau, not fully recovered from strep throat, struggled home in 1:53.7.
Humphrey cleared 25-4 1/2 on his fourth attempt and beat Mike Davis of Arkansas by an inch for the long-jump watch.
"When I found out a week and a half ago that Mike Conley (an Arkansas standout only competing in sprint relays here) wasn't jumping, I started thinking about the Relays watch," Humphrey said. "I've jumped better, but 25-4 isn't bad here. The shifty winds are a real problem."
After Young fought off a stretch drive by Thomas Boggan of T.C. Williams, he raised his arms in triumph and then knelt in the middle of the track.
"I couldn't believe it," said Young, a senior whose Temple University sweatshirt made his college choice apparent. "I've always dreamed about the Penn Relays, first making it here and then winning. I was scared the whole time, but I did it."
Besides Boggan (3:57.0), Todd Coppedge of Robinson placed fourth in 3:58.2 and Mike Anthony of Lake Braddock finished fifth in 3:58.7.
Virginia runners had the fastest splits in the high school girls 4x800-meter championship, although the winner was State College, Pa., in 9:09.2. Robinson was third in 9:12.8 as senior Tracy Duke anchored in 2:13.0. Sophomore Erin Keogh of fourth-place Langley was even faster in 2:12.6.
The girls high school 4x400 was more of the same. Although William Penn of Philadelphia won in 3:45.1, junior Cathron Birge of sixth-place Lake Braddock ran the fastest 400 split, 53.9. Sophomore Kelli Roberts of third-place Central was next, 54.0.
Lake Braddock was fourth in 48.29 as Vere Tech of Jamaica took the girls 4x100 in 46.40.