Friday, April 18, 2014

Villanova Penn Relays countdown: Six days left (part two)

Sonia O'Sullivan

Editor's note: For the ten days leading up to the Penn Relays, I will do a countdown of great Villanova athletes with the number of Penn Relays titles corresponding with the day. Given that there were two Olympic medalists who had won six times at Penn, I picked the man and the woman. 

With no disrespect to other great Villanova runners like Sheila Reid, Vicki Huber, Carrie Tollefson, Jen Rhines, Carmen Douma-Hussar, and Caroline Zajac, the greatest female runner in Villanova history is easily Sonia O'Sullivan. Not only is O'Sullivan the fastest Villanova runner at every current and former Olympic distance from the 1500 to the marathon (with the exception of the steeplechase, which wasn't competed as a women's event during her career), but she is also the only female Villanova runner to set an individual world record, the only one to be a World Champion on the track, the only one to be a World Cross Country champion, and the only one to win an Olympic medal, when she took home silver for Ireland in the 5000 meters in the 2000 Sydney Games behind probable doper Gabriela Szabo of Romania.

The County Cork native is one of her country's most beloved athletes, and she is unquestionably the greatest female professional athlete in Villanova's history.

Villanova Penn Relays countdown: Six days left!

  Larry James at the 1968 Penn Relays
Editor's note: For the ten days leading up to the Penn Relays, I will do a countdown of great Villanova athletes with the number of Penn Relays titles corresponding with the day. 

The 1968 Penn Relays are most famous for being the event that Larry James, the late, great "Mighty Burner" made history, when he became the first man in history to cover a quarter-mile in under 44 seconds, anchoring the victorious Villanova mile relay in an astounding 43.9 split for the full quarter-mile. James' time, when rounded down to 400 meters is still considered the fastest split in relays history, faster than two-time Olympic 400 meter gold medalist and current world record holder Michael Johnson!

Here's how Sports Illustrated described it at the time:

Although no one at Villanova had announced officially that the Wildcats were going for the big five, when they did try it was about as surprising as H.H.H.'s announcement that he was going to run for president. Even so, winning five relays in one meet is like having five aces in your hand in a game of five-card stud: it isn't possible. Or, at least, that is what everyone said. But Jumbo Elliott, the always-smiling Villanova coach, had a supercard up his sleeve. In fact, he had three—Larry James, Frank Murphy and Dave Patrick.

James, the slim sprinter from White Plains, N.Y., who was only No. 2 on his high school's mile-relay team, recorded the fastest 440 ever run when he anchored the mile-relay team to a 3:06.1 with a startling 43.9 leg. The mile relay was the final event of the marathon two-day meet and, although James had run three 440s in the previous 24 hours, he had saved sufficient energy for the grand finale. When he received the baton he was five yards behind Rice's Dale Bernauer, a fine quarter-miler, but that didn't seem to have much effect on James. "He's the mighty burner!" a teammate shouted. "Watch him cook."
A graceful, floating runner whose feet never seem to touch the ground, James caught Bernauer, flowed past him on the backstretch and went on to win by 12 yards. His time is not a world record, since it was made on a relay leg, but it was almost a full second faster than Tommie Smith's 44.8 world mark. After the race James was mobbed by teammates, friends and well-wishers, and by the time he made it into the locker room he confessed, "I'm not used to this. This fame is all new to me."
Later on in 1968, James won a silver medal in the 400m dash, and a gold medal in the 4x400 meters at the Mexico City Olympics. In addition to his two titles won at the 1968 Penn Relays, James would go on to win four more Penn Relays watches over his final two years in college.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Villanova Penn Relays countdown: One week left!

 Sydney Maree (far right)

Editor's note: For the ten days leading up to the Penn Relays, I will do a countdown of great Villanova athletes with the number of Penn Relays titles corresponding with the day. 

Sydney Maree set a world record in the 1500 meter run, ran a mile in 3:47 seconds, held multiple American Records for more than 20 years, and made two Olympic teams for the United States, after his native South Africa was banned from the Olympics because of Apartheid, which is ironic in the case of Sydney Maree because as a black man, this represented the second time that he was victimized by the insidious Apartheid system. By the measure of the stopwatch, Maree is the greatest Villanova runner in history, holding virtually every school record above 1500 meters to go along with multiple NCAA records that still stand. From 1981, the year he graduated, until 2008, when Bobby Curtis won the NCAA 5000 meter championship, he was Villanova's most recent NCAA outdoor champion, a 27 year drought that gives me a reason to mention Curtis, who despite being one of the greatest Villanova runners in history across many distances was never able to win at Penn, showing just how difficult it can be.

Today, we celebrate Sydney Maree's seven Penn Relays championships.

Only one week left!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Villanova Penn Relays countdown: Eight days left

  Charlie Jenkins at Melbourne

Editor's note: For the ten days leading up to the Penn Relays, I will do a countdown of great Villanova athletes with the number of Penn Relays titles corresponding with the day. 

Charlie Jenkins represents a lot of things in Villanova track and field history. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Jenkins became the school's first Olympic medalist, first Olympic gold medalist,  first multiple Olympic medalist, and its only athlete with more than one gold medal. In addition to his two Olympic golds, Jenkins won eight Penn Relays watches and was a member of Villanova's 1957 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship team along with his fellow Olympic gold medalists Ron Delany and Don Bragg.

Jenkins is also significant because he was Villanova's first coach after the death of Jumbo Elliott in 1981, and because his son, Charles, Jr. or "Chip" won an Olympic gold medal in the 4x400m relay at the 1992 Barcelona Games, marking the first time that a father and son had won Olympic gold in the same event.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nine days until the Penn Relays

 Ron Delany 

Editor's note: For the ten days leading up to the Penn Relays, I will do a countdown of great Villanova athletes with the number of Penn Relays titles corresponding with the day. 

Four different Villanova athletes won nine Penn Relays champions. All of them were Olympians, all of them finished a season number one in the world rankings, two of them were Irish, one of them a world champion, and one an Olympic champion. For the purposes of this, I will pick Ron Delany, Villanova's second Olympic champion, winning his 1500m gold medal only two days after Charlie Jenkins won Villanova's first gold medal in the 400m dash. Delany's career at the Penn Relays was significant, because he won watches in both sprint and distance relays, running the third leg on three champion mile relays, and anchoring three victorious distance medley and sprint medley relays a piece, demonstrating his considerable range.

Now 79 years old, Delany remains one of Ireland's most recognizable sportsmen.

Villanova football names its 2014 team captains

Poppy Livers

For the second season in a row, the Villanova football team will be going with only two captains, as head coach Andy Talley announced today that the team's 2014 captains will be senior wide receiver Poppy Livers and senior safety Joe Sarnese. Livers and Sarnese succeed the graduating Dan Shirey and Antoine Lewis, who were the captains for the 2013 season. 

At 375 pounds combined, Sarnese and Livers are only 70 pounds heavier than Dan Shirey, and a whopping 220 pounds lighter than Shirey and Lewis combined, making them the smallest pair of captains in the recent history of the Villanova football team.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ten days until the Penn Relays: The countdown begins

Mark Belger

Editor's note: For the ten days leading up to the Penn Relays, I will do a countdown of great Villanova athletes with the number of Penn Relays titles corresponding with the day. 

With ten days left, it is Mark Belger, class of 1978. With ten relays watches, the Bellmore, New York native is Villanova's grand champion at the Penn Relays, with the Wildcats undefeated in the ten relays that Belger took part in at Villanova.

In addition to his Penn Relays exploits, Belger finished fourth at the 1976 Olympic Trials in the 800, barely missing the team, and won the NCAA 800m Championship in 1978.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rakim Cox pro day highlights

Here's the report of the pro day from
Rakim Cox, DE (6-3 3/4, 266) — Cox ran the 40 in 4.93 and 4.94 seconds. He had a 32 1/2-inch vertical and 9-8 broad jump. He did the short shuttle in 4.41 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.14 seconds. He performed 20 strength lifts on the bench. Cox has 32 5/8-inch arms. He worked out as both a hand-in-the-ground defensive end and in space as a linebacker. Cox will work out at a the regional combine held in Miami later this month.
Not bad measurables. He'll almost certainly get some sort of NFL contract, and possibly will even get drafted.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Blast from the past: 1968 IBM advertisement featuring Paul Arizin

Despite the fact that he was a star player, Paul Arizin left the NBA when he was offered more money to work for IBM than he was from Philadelphia Warriors. Pretty interesting how much different it was than today, where contracts are guaranteed, and just about any established veteran is making more than five million dollars a season.

I thought this was pretty cool in light of Mad Men returning this week.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Donte Divincenzo junior highlights

This is admittedly just two week old filler I found surfing YouTube tonight, because I am exhausted.

He's also an unsigned prospect, so don't bother him on twitter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


If this never happened, I think I will have to reassess my life. I have spent the better part of the last decade making "Who wants to sex Dikembe/Mouphtaou" jokes, including writing it on the bulletin board of Mouph's dorm his freshman year, so if Dikembe is telling the truth, I might as well sink into a pit of melancholy where I will stay forever.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Shabazz Napier: Malnourished

Makes sense that a UConn player wouldn't be smart enough to walk to the dining hall. No wonder their APR is so bad.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Assessing blame for the Villanovan column

On Friday, I posted a response to a column written in this past week's Villanovan that made some uninformed, overly broad, and frankly absurd assertions about perceived benefits received by student athletes at Villanova and elsewhere. Given that I already said enough about the author, and the fact that she took some abuse for it, deserved and otherwise, I feel the need to clarify my position, because the writer of the column, Blaire Fenniman deserves to know that she is not solely to blame for this debacle. 

The lion's share of the blame in this shitstorm should go with the editors of The Villanovan. Not only because it's author's thesis was so fundamentally wrong, but because the column was simply not well written enough to publish even if the points it made were 100 percent correct. It simply did not meet the standard of what an opinion column in a weekly publication should be, especially one at a school that is as selective as Villanova. By allowing that column to go to publication, without a disclaimer, the editors of the paper showed that they were in tacit agreement with the author, and essentially threw her to the fire by allowing it to be published. If the editorial board disagreed with her, the fact that they did not publish a rebuttal piece next to the article is reprehensible, because even a moron would know that something like that would generate controversy.

Ultimately, this situation should have never happened was created by a media environment that values sensationalism over hard news, and content over quality. Hopefully Blaire Fenniman, and more importantly, everyone involved at the Villanovan's editorial staff learns their lesson, and hopefully the athletes and students of Villanova give Blaire Fenniman a fair chance to explain herself, and ultimately forgive her, because grabbing pitchforks and torches and chasing her off campus is counter to Villanova University's core values of truth, unity, and love.