Seton Hall Prep Places 2nd In CoA 4x400 at Penn

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Seton Hall Prep was already a big underdog, and then they lost one of their top guns.

So the odds certainly seemed stacked against them when they ran the 4x400 Championship of America race on Friday at Franklin Field at the 127th Penn Relays presented by Toyota.

But Seton Hall Prep, who lost Russell Webb to a hamstring strain, defied those odds and nearly pulled off a monumental upset by producing one of the gutsiest races you will ever see against the heavily favored Jamaican powerhouse squads.

Loading up the front of their lineup with Ryan Matulonis, Xavier Donaldson, and Nick Devita turned out to be the perfect play as Seton Hall stunned the field by holding the lead at the final exchange.

Brandon Williams, who only found out he was running in place of Webb at around 12:30 p.m. on Friday, fought valiantly to hold off the hard-charging Jamaican teams for as long as he could and wound up coming across the line in second place in 3:16.06 in the driving rain. Kingston of Jamaica won for the second straight year in 3:15.62. 

Seton Hall Prep, who broke the NJ state indoor record when it won the 4x400 at the New Balance Indoor Championships last month, was the only American team that finished in the top five. They earned prestigious Penn Relays gold watches for finishing as the top American team.

Matulonis and Donaldson gave Seton Hall Prep the lead with a pair of 48 point legs. Nick DeVita then split 48.98 to give Williams the stick in front. Williams, who split 50.39, spilled everything he had in an effort to  stay in front.

"The guys all put me in great position and I did everything I could to try to keep the lead,'' said Williams.        

The injury to Webb, who hurt his hammy running in the 4x400 and 4x800 trials on Thursday, forced Seton Hall Prep to scratch from the 4x800 C of A race where they were the top seed, and just focus on going after the 4x400. Seton Hall Prep also made the 4x400 and 4x800 C of A in 2005.

"I am really proud of what we did today,'' said Donaldson. "We lost Russ and Brandon stepped up big for us. We left it all out there today and feel really good about what we did on one of the biggest stages in the world.''

Matulonis, who will be running along with DeVita on this track for UPenn next year, said the heavy rain didn't dampen the incredible atmosphere and electricity that the Penn Relays are known for. 

"To be on the track in front of these people with all the Jamaicans ringing their bells and blowing whistles was just so energizing,'' said Matulonis, who ran in the 4x100, 4x400, and 4x800 trials on Thursday. It's something we will never forget. What we did the last two days was tough to pull off, but it was so worth it.''