PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, April 27—The Jamaican women and the U.S. men looked the most impressive in the annual “USA vs. The World” professional races at the Penn Relays, held on a sunny but windy Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia with temperatures in the mid-60s. While there were only a handful of established names on the international rosters, the crowd of 48,195 (capping off a 3-day total of 110,661) didn’t seem to mind. As usual, a boisterous contingent of Jamaican fans produced the most energy and volume.
The U.S. faced a tight battle in the opening race of the series, the men’s 4×1, but this time it was not from their perennial Caribbean rival, but instead a Canadian quartet that included half the Rio bronze medal crew. Through three legs the teams were virtually even, but a clean handoff gave USA Red anchor Mike Rodgers the momentum to pull away from Benjamin Williams to get the Americans the win, 38.80–38.94. The top Jamaican squad was only 4th in 39.26, behind USA Blue (39.16). “It was important to set the tone with the first race of the day,” said Rogers, just a few days past his 34th birthday and enjoying the glamour of the anchor leg after years of running leadoff for American quartets. “It was nice to get in some pictures this time,” he joked of the finish line spotlight.
In the women’s 4×1, 2-time Olympic 100 champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also ignored conventional wisdom about age. The 32-year-old Jamaican charged out of the blocks and established a lead that kept growing with each leg through a 43.19 finish. That was more than a second ahead of Canada (44.37), whose anchor Khamica Bingham ran away from a pair of American teams (44.40 & 44.60).
The 4x4s were both lopsided, with Michael Cherry’s 44.3 second-leg carry establishing an insurmountable lead for USA Red (3:02.70) over Canada (3:04.54) and the Bahamas (3:05.58). “I really like running the second leg,” the LSU alum said. “I just wanted to get out on the curve and open the race up and have some fun in front of the home crowd.” The women’s event was particularly anticlimactic, with Jamaican teams going 1–2 in 3:28.94 and 3:31.04. Given the blustery conditions, only one runner went sub-52, Jamaica B-team anchor Tiffany James (51.78).
The U.S. women saved some face by winning the sprint medley—held over the relatively obscure 800-meter distance (100-100-200-400)—thanks to a dominating 51-flat anchor from Raevyn Rogers. “When I was on the backstretch I could hear certain things, and there are some things I kinda tune out,” said Rogers, the former Oregon star who now trains in the Philadelphia area with fellow halfmilers Ajee’ Wilson and Charlene Lipsey. “But to clearly hear the ‘USA’ chant as I was making that approach [to pass Jamaica’s Verone Chambers], it just pushed me to go even harder.” The wind-marred winning time of 1:37.87 was well off the 1:35.20 world best set by another Rogers-anchored squad at last year’s Penn Relays.
The men’s medley was run with the more common 200/200/400/800 configuration and allowed Kenya to crash the North Americans’ party. After trailing the entire field through the opening legs, anchor runner Collins Kipruto blasted to the front just past the bell and used a 1:47.16 split to deliver the win in 3:16.21 over USA Red (3:17.49).
USA vs. THE WORLD RESULTS
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 27—
4 x 100: 1. USA Red 38.80 (Belcher, Robinson, Young, Rodgers); 2. Canada 38.94 (Smellie, Brown, Rodney, Williams); 3. USA Blue 39.16 (Gray, McLean, Cotton, Burrell); 4. Jamaica 39.26 (Carter, Forte, Dwyer, Ellis); 5. Jamaica B 39.84 (Minzie, Hinds, Anderson, Walker); 6. Antigua 40.10; 7. Guyana 40.85; 8. Kenya 41.27; 9. Haiti 47.60.
4 x 400: 1. USA Red 3:02.70 (M. Kerley 47.2, Cherry 44.3, Wright 45.09, Hutchinson 46.15); 2. Canada 3:04.54 (Harper, Cole, Thompson, Osei); 3. Bahamas 3:05.58 (Ferguson, Smith, Colebrook, Russell 44.89); 4. Jamaica 3:05.93 (Gaye, Dunkley, McDonald, Carpenter); 5. USA Blue 3:06.63 (Chambers 47.4, Spratling 46.0, Berry 45.13, Glass 48.12); 6. Kenya 3:09.22; 7. Guyana 3:13.07.
SpMed: 1. Kenya 3:16.21 (Mokamba, Kishoyian, Omae 46.0, Kipruto 1:47.16); 2. USA Red 3:17.49 (McClain, Washington, Mitchell 47.2, Giesting 1:48.50); 3. Jamaica 3:19.25 (Walker, Dwyer, McDonald, Glave); 4. USA Blue 3:20.15 (Trimble, Marshall, Page 46.5, Ford 1:51.35);
5. Canada 3:21.72 (Brown, Rodney, Ayesu-Attah, Khelaf).
4 x 100: 1. Jamaica 43.19 (Fraser-Pryce, Morrison, Forbes, Calvert-Powell); 2. Canada 44.37 (Jacques, Emmanuel, Harrison, Bingham); 3. USA Red 44.40 (Bryant, A. Brown, Carter, Bennett); 4. USA Blue 44.60 (D. Brown, Reynolds, Farquharson, Ruth); 5. Guyana 46.84 (McCammon, Abrams, King, Rogers); 6. Kenya 48.40 (Kadogo, Chebet, Cherono, Mwangi).
4 x 400: 1. Jamaica 3:28.94 (Jackson 51.6, Russell 52.5, Day 52.41, McPherson 52.47); 2. Jamaica 3:31.04 (McGregor, Leroy, Whyte, James 51.78); 3. Canada 3:31.63 (Price, Stiverne, Jones, Stephens); 4. USA Red 3:31.95 (Ruth 53.9, Reynolds 52.4, Majors 53.40, Thomas 52.21);
5. USA Blue 3:36.11 (Whitney 53.6, Bookman 53.0, Farquharson 54.49, Baisden 55.03); 6. Kenya 3:40.81 (Moraa, Thomas, Musyoki, Imali).
800Med: 1. USA 1:37.87 (WL, AL) (Bryant, A. Brown, Carter, Rogers 51.0);
2. Jamaica 1:39.57 (Evans, Simpson, Whyte, Chambers); 3. Canada 1:40.42 (Harrison, Rowe, Sherar, Brown); 4. Guyana 1:45.31 (Abrams, Rogers, King, McCammon); 5. Kenya 1:46.05 (Kadogo, Mwangi, Cherono, Makena). ◻︎