NJ's Murphy And Langon Lead Nova to Epic Win At Penn Relays

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -  Liam Murphy and Marco Langon know all about the rich history of distance running greatness at Villanova. On Saturday, the two NJ studs raced their way into it.

Langon and Murphy, two of the best runners to ever come through the Garden State, ran the final two legs to finish off Villanova's epic performance in the 4xMile Championship of America race as the Wildcats destroyed the NCAA and meet records and threw down the second fastest time in world history at the 128th Penn Relays at Franklin Field.

Langon, a 2022 graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High, split 3:58.18 on the third leg, and Murphy dropped a 3:54.52 and once again used his wicked kick down the final straightaway to rally for the win. Murphy, a 2020 graduate of Allentown High, charged across the line and froze the numbers on the clock at a jaw-dropping and eye-popping 15:51.91!!

That obliterated the NCAA record of 16:03.24 set by Oregon in 2009, and smashed the meet record of 16:04.54 set by Michigan in 2005. And it's just off the world record of 15:49.08 set by Ireland in Belfield, Dublin on August, 17 1985. That world record team featured three Villanova graduates, including current Villanova head coach Marcus O'Sullivan. The Irish team consisted of Eamonn Coghlan who ran 4:00.20 on the lead off, O'Sullivan (3:55.30), Frank O'Mara (3:56.60) and Ray Flynn split 3:56.98 on the anchor. O'Mara, who graduated from Arkansas, is the only non Nova grad in that lineup.  

This race was so fast that the top three teams all broke 16 minutes and 13 runners went sub 4! Virginia was second in a 15:52.30, and Georgetown set a new American Record [pending approval of runners' nationality] with their third-place time of 15:52.56, breaking Oregon's record of 16:03.24 set in 2009.All four runners for the Hoya's broke 4 minutes! 

Murphy, a senior, was trailing Gary Martin of Virginia as they made the turn for home, but just like he did on his anchor carry on Friday, Murphy found another gear and blasted by Martin to secure Nova's second Championship of America title of the meet. The Wildcats, who won the DMR on Friday, extending Nova's record to a staggering total of 97 Championship of America wheels at Penn. 

Murphy's two huge anchor legs earned him the Most Outstanding Men's College Athlete of the Meet for relay events, and iit secured his status as a Villanova legend.   

The record-setting lineup for the Wildcats also included a pair of Irishmen, junior Sean Donoghue (Dublin, Ireland), and sixth year collegian Charlie O'Donovan (Cork, Ireland). Donoghue ran 3:59.32 and O'Donovan split 4:00.09.

Donoghue, O'Donovan and Murphy ran the same legs they did on last year's 4xMile championship team while Langon is a Championship of America winner for the first time in his career. Murphy, who now has three Penn wheels, is the 14th athlete in Villanova history to anchor three or more Championship of America men's relay champions and is the first since John Marshall of Plainfield anchored three winning relays from 1982-84.

The last Wildcat athlete to anchor two winning relays in the same year was Casey Comber, who anchored the DMR and 4xMile wins in 2018.

"At Nova, it's all about winning wheels and running fast, and the guys all came together and we did what set out to do,'' said Murphy. "I feel like running sub 16 is that what every 4xmile relay team wants to accomplish. It's cool for that to finally happen here at the Penn Relays. As I was watching my teammates run, I realized that the pace was there, and if I got the baton and kept that pace going, we'd be able to get the record.''

Langon, a sophomore, was ecstatic to join the Nova wheel party and be part of history and the Wildcats legacy.

"I've been waiting to get one of these wheels,'' said Langon. "There is no better feeling to add my name to Nova's history. We're a brotherhood here at Nova,. We run for each other, and for everyone who has worn this singlet and come before us. It's all about keeping the tradition going and adding to the legacy.'' 

Langon and Murphy built two of the impressive resumes in NJ history during their high school days.

Murphy won four Meet of Champions titles, two indoors in the 3,200, one in XC, and one in the 1,600 indoors, which was stopped a lap short),. He was a Foot Locker National XC finalist, and ran 15:21 at Holmdel Park and 8:54.22 for 3,200 meters.   

Two years later, Langon shredded Holmdel Park at the 2021 XC Meet of Champions with a winning time of 15:06, the third fastest time in course history, and he was also a Foot Locker XC National finalist. On the track, Langon was fifth at the 2002 New Balance National Championships in the mile in 4:04.60 mile, No. 4 in NJ history, and he went 8:48.28 in the 3,200 to finish first at the 2022 Indoor Meet of Champions at the Bennett Center, whiich is No. 2 in NJ indoor history. 

In their Nova careers, Murphy has reached legendary status by winning seven Big East titles, been named All-American 4 times, and he owns the Nova indoor records in the mile (3:53.85), 3K (7:42.51), and 5K (13:21.30). Langon seems to be on his way to becoming a Nova legend himself. He has already run two sub 4 miles (three if you count his split on Saturday), and has run 7:43.83 for 3K!!

Langon said sharing the baton with his buddy Murphy on the biggest of all stages made winning taste so much sweeter.

"We have a tight bond being that we are Jersey guys, roommates, and the best of friends,'' said Langon. "Murph is like a brother to me! I've been looking up to him since he was killing it in high school, so to do this together is just awesome. This is why I came to Nova. To run with these guys, take down records, and grab wheels. And the best is yet to come.

Has Langon's stardom on the collegiate level come earlier than he expected?

"No way,'' said Langon. "I always knew I had the talent to run these times. A big reason is that I get to race and train with guys like Liam and Sean Dolan (another NJ and Nova legend). Those guys make me run faster and keep me hungry.''

O'Donovan said Langon's rapid rise is no surprise.

"We all saw this coming,'' said O'Donovan. "He's a beast and he's just getting going. We had no doubt that Marco would come up big for us today. He has a ton of talent and the drive to be the best.''     

Let's not forget Dolan.

Dolan, a grad student, is one the top middle distance runners in Villanova history, and a big reason why Murphy wound up at Nova.

Dolan will finish his career with two wheels for a Nova. He led off Nova's DMR win on Friday with a 3:00.27 1,200 carry and ran a leg on the winning 4xMile last year. Dolan also won a wheel with his Hopewell Valley DMR squad when he anchored his team to the Championship of America title as a junior in 2018, and he won a national title in the mile in high school.

During his college career, Dolan is a 6-time All-American, an eight-time Big East champion, was the runner-up in the 800 meters at the 2024 indoor NCAA Championships, ran in the 800 at the Olympic Trials in 2021, holds the school indoor record in the 800 of 1:46.90, has run sub 4 in the mile several times with a PR of 3:56.39.

Dolan said that of all of his remarkable accomplishments, nothing beats winning relays at Franklin Field.  

"There is nothing better than winning wheels at Penn with your best friends,'' Dolan said after Friday's DMR victory. "This is the best meet in the world. Winning wheels is what it's all about at Nova. There's no better feeling than bringing wheels back to school and adding them to our collection. And to do it one more time with Liam makes is even more special.''