THIS WILL BE A TOUGHER RACE
When Stanford's men won the distance medley relay at the indoor NCAA championships, the biggest surprise for Mike Atchoo on the anchor leg was where he was.
"I thought we had a good shot at winning, but I didn't think I'd be so far ahead," said the Cardinal senior. "I was prepared for a dogfight over the last 800 meters, but I was 30 meters in front when I got the baton.I was just hoping I didn't step on the rail or trip."
Atchoo, a senior from Troy, Mich. who is studying biomechanical engineering, knows he can expect that dogfight when Stanford, which last won a men's relay at Franklin Field in 2001, takes on the field in the Penn Relays' Championship of America DMR.
The Cardinal team at the NCAAs was Marco Bertolotti, Steven Solomon, Luke Lefebure and Atchoo, but Tyler Stevenson, a senior who had no indoor eligibility remaining, could step into the opening 1200-meter leg.
And they'll all be rookies at Penn except the sophomore Solomon, who has run at the Relays with Australia in a USA vs. the World event.
"It's a fantastic competition, it's electrifying," Solomon said of the Franklin Field atmosphere. "It's one of the loudest environments in track and field. And it's awesome to have such a knowledgeable crowd."
Solomon, who intends to follow his father as an orthopedic surgeon, knows something about big track and field crowds. He ran for his native country at both the 2012 London Olympics (400-meter finalist) and last year at the World Championships in Moscow (4x400-meter finalists).
His take on the NCAA DMR title: "We didn't anticipate that big lead, but we went from strength to strength."
One challenge at Penn which Stanford did not face at the NCAA meet will come from Oregon, where freshman distance star Edward Cheserek will anchor the Ducks. He stuck to individual events at the NCAAs, and was a double winner in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters.
"We're not worried about who's there," Atchoo said. "It doesn't change our plans."
Which would be to win another distance medley relay.
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