The Penn State Relays saw some historic achievements in both men’s and women’s distance running events, with the Villanova men’s 4xmile team and the Providence women’s 4x1500m team both taking home impressive victories. The success of these teams was made even more notable by the participation of two Leevale AC athletes – Charlie O’Donovan on the Villanova team, and Jane Buckley on the Providence team.
The Villanova men’s 4xmile team, which also included Sean Dolan, Sean Donohue, and Liam Murphy, put in a dominant performance to win the event in a time of 16:14.03. They were pushed hard by a strong Wisconsin team, but ultimately held on for a comfortable victory.
Villanova’s time of 16:14.03 is the eighth-fastest in meet history, the best time for any team since 2014 and the number two time in school history behind only the school record performance of 16:10.6 by the 1974 Penn Relays championship team. Donoghue led off with a split of 4:01.24, O’Donovan had a split of 4:01.80 on the second leg and Dolan ran 4:00.80 on the third leg of the race before Murphy took over and split 4:10.20 on a tactical anchor leg. Murphy made a reference to yesterday when he took the lead in the distance medley relay with 250 meters left but was caught by Wisconsin on the final turn and ran out of time to respond on the final straightaway. He was more patient in the home stretch a day later.
Charlie carries on a strong tradition for Leevale athletes winning Penn State relays with Villanova, following in the winning footsteps of his two coaches, Ken Nason in 1993 and Marcus O’Sullivan in 1894. Making the occasion more notable, both Ken and Marcus were at the meet to celebrate with Charlie.
Meanwhile, the Providence women’s 4x1500m team, which included Alex O’Neill, Shannon Flockhart, and Kimberley May, as well as Jane Buckley, also put in a stunning performance to win their event. They finished in a time of 17:11.35, beating out the likes of Oklahoma State and Washington to take home the victory. This was Providence’s first win in the event since 1991.
Jane Buckley, who ran the leadoff leg for Providence, put in a strong performance to set the team up for success. She ran a solid leg and handed off to Alex O’Neill, who took the lead and never looked back. Buckley’s contribution was crucial in helping Providence to secure the win.
Overall, the success of both the Villanova men’s 4xmile team and the Providence women’s 4x1500m team at the Penn State Relays was a testament to the strength of these programs, as well as the skill and dedication of the athletes involved. The participation of Leevale AC athletes Charlie O’Donovan and Jane Buckley only added to the sense of achievement, highlighting the impressive track record of the club in producing top-class distance runners. These victories will undoubtedly serve as a source of inspiration for future generations of athletes, both at Villanova, Providence, and beyond.
Congratulations to Jane & Charlie from all at Leevale AC on a fabulous achievement stateside. Brilliant performances from you both and a great source of inspiration for younger athletes following.
Finbarr O Dwyer