Chatham Wins 4x800 CoA In Epic Finish at Penn Relays

PHILADELPHIA-- Ryan Beegle was running out of track. Ainsley Campbell was running out of gas.

So with the finish line fast approaching at Franklin Field and the scent of blood in the water, Beegle, a senior at Chatham, put his head down and dug down deep to make one final expulsive charge in Friday's 4x800 Championship of America race at the 127th Penn Relays presented by Toyota.

With the rain soaked crowed in an absolute frenzy as he closed the gap with each stride, Beegle pulled even with the staggering anchor from Kingston College in Jamaica inches from the finish, and then lunged across the line as he willed his way past Campbell before spreading his arms out in jubilation as he hit the tape, giving Chatham the heart-pounding and improbable stunning upset victory, 7:47.66 to 7:47.68, in a finish for the ages.

Chatham is the first U.S. team to win the 4x800 at Penn since Pleasantville (NJ) finished first in 2013, ending Jamaica's seven-year winning streak. Chatham is also the first boys team ever from Morris County to win a C of A race at Penn. The Roxbury girls, the DMR champ in 2008, is the only other Morris County team to win a C of A race.

Beegle's epic finish completed a red hot 1:52.47 anchor carry, and it touched off a wild celebration as Beegle was mobbed by teammates Charles Henne, Adam Petitjean, and Leo Valenzuela, who hugged and danced in the rain drops on the track.

"I don't believe this,'' Beegle screamed out during the euphoric celebration. "I wasn't sure I could get him, but I saw that he (Campbell-who split 1:55.39) was tying up, and I just gave it all I had to try to catch him. This is the Penn Relays, you have to leave everything you have out there, and somehow, someway we pulled it out.'''

Beegle admitted that when he got the baton in fourth place and 2.90 seconds behind the front-running Campbell he wasn't really sure he could make up the deficit.

"Honestly, there was a time that I was thinking that I might not be able to catch him, and that I might be running for the watches (top American),'' Beegle said. "But little by little I got a little closer, and when I came around the final turn I felt that maybe there was a chance, but I was hurting a bit, too, so I had to just push past the pain for teammates.''

Petitjean, who ran a 1:59.41 second leg, was in utter disbelief.

"Oh my God,'' said Petijean. "We did it! This is 10 years in the making. No one thought we could do this, but we never stopped believing.''

Henne, who split 1:58.31 on the opening carry, let out a primal roar.

"Beegle!!! Beegle!!!! You did it. I can't believe it.''

The race was literally a perfect storm for Chatham!

"We finally all ran our best on the same day and it all came together perfectly,'' said Henne. 

Valenzuela, who split 1:57.48 third leg to move Chatham from fifth to fourth, was overcome with emotion.

"We did it,'' he said. "We did something we will never forget, and something that we may have been the only ones who thought was possible."

As Petitjean, Henne, Beegle and Valenzuela made their way to the podium to get their awards, they all pointed to their wrists.

"It's time,'' they said. "It's time to get the watches and that wheel!''

Photo by Comstock for MileSplit