NJ's Murphy And Dolan Win Another Wheel for Villanova

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - When you are running the anchor leg in a Championship of America race at the Penn Relays and you are also plastered on the front of the program, there's a lot pressure that comes with that.

But NJ legend Liam Murphy, who is always at his best when the stakes are highest, responded to that pressure the way he always does at the 128th Penn Relays on Friday in front of a sun-drenched crowd at Franklin Field.

Murphy, who grabbed the batn in 6th place in the DMR Championship of America race, leveled up and hammered his way to a 3:59.63 anchor carry to bring Villanova across the line first in 9:35.90. Georgetown was second in 9:36.37.

Murphy, who won multiple Meet of Champions titles at Allentown High where he graduated from in 2020, swung wide and used his wicked kick to rally past several teams in the homestretch to give Nova its record 26th DMR title here at Penn and its first since 2018. That gives the Nova's men's program a staggering total of 103 Penn Relay wheels in the relay events! You read that right!!! 

"Yeah, there was added pressure being on the cover,'' Murphy laughed. "You can't be on the cover and not deliver when you race, so that was a little extra motivation. But the biggest thing was last year in this race I got swallowed up and didn't get the win, so I wasn't going to let that happen again.''   

Murphy,  grabbed the lead with abut 850 to go, and then after giving it up, he worked his way out of a box with 150 to and then exploded over the final 100 to secure the win.

"I almost got swallowed again, but got out of it,'' said Murphy. "Then it was go time. I just poured everything I had in me to get the win. I wasn't going to let my teammates down.''

Murphy said the race went just like it always does.

"The race plays out the same way just about every year,'' he said. " It comes down to who has that extra gear in the final lap. We were thinking about this race all year and just trying to get back for last year because I was on the losing side of it. I know we had a strong team going into this year's race and we trusted the plan that our coaches had. I was really excited that we were on the other end of things this time."

Nova's DMR win also featured NJ stud Sean Dolan, Luke Rakowitz, and Dan Watcke.  

Dolan, who starred at Hopewell Valley High where he graduated in 2019, split 3:00.27 on the 1,200 leadoff leg to give Nova the lead. Rakowitz followed with a 47.67 400 carry and Watcke ran 1:48.34 on the 800 leg.

Dolan and Murphy, who have been great friends since their high school days, also earned a wheel for Nova in the 4xMile here last year.

"There is nothing better than winning wheels at Penn with your best friends,'' said Dolan, who anchored Hopewell Valley High to the DMR title in in a meet record 9:57.77 as a junior in 2018. "This is the best meet in the world. Winning wheels is what it's all about at Nova. There's no better feeling than bring these wheels back to school and adding them to our collection.''

Dolan and Murphy will be seeking to grab a couple more wheels on Saturday when Murphy is expected to run in the 4xmile and Dolan is excepted to be in the 4x800 lineup.