PHILADELPHIA -- A year after anchoring her Tennessee team to three second-place finishes at the Penn Relays, senior Sarah Bowman returned and made sure the favored Volunteers didn't come up short.
Bowman held off a late charge by Georgetown's Maggie Infield as Tennessee won the college women's distance medley championship Thursday on the opening day of the 115th Penn Relays.
Kimarra McDonald, Chanelle Price, Phoebe Wright and Bowman combined for a winning time of 11 minutes, 2.11 seconds to edge Georgetown, which finished in 11:02.85. Villanova was third in 11:13.69.
Tennessee trailed Duke after the first leg and found itself in a dead heat with Georgetown, an order which stayed intact through the second leg. In the third leg, Price grabbed the lead for the Volunteers with a 2:04.5 split to set the table for Bowman, who despite the Hoyas' late charge, never really looked threatened.
"Sarah said she got complacent, I actually went out too fast," Price said. "In the end I got it to [Bowman]."
Tennessee women's coach J.J. Clark said the victory wasn't redemption for the Volunteers, who were proud of their 2008 runner-up finishes in the distance medley, 800 and 1,500 relays.
"Last year was a success in our mind," said Clark. "Not many teams come here and run a triple, like Villanova did years ago. We come here to run and we did. We were successful because we ran fast and we put it all on the line."
Tennessee entered the event as the clear favorite after it set a world record during the indoor season. The added pressure only strengthened their resolve.
"You have to focus on the race you are in that moment," said Bowman. "If you start thinking ahead you'll never get through all three of them. I bounce back quickly and usually feel good on day two and day three because we do that kind of thing at nationals and I think we're all prepared and excited to see how we go."
While the windy conditions hurt any shot at an event record for the Volunteers, it helped Louisiana State freshman Rachel Laurent in the women's pole vault, which took place just across the field from the starting line. Laurent finished off her title with an event record vault of 13-feet-10½ which surpassed the previous mark of 13-10 set by Amy Linnen of Kansas in 2005.
"[The conditions] were actually pretty good," said Laurent, who beat out William & Mary's Nicole Kazuba and South Carolina's Sallie Gurganus, both of whom cleared 12-11½. "The wind was actually working pretty well for us. I just went out there and did my best. It came out as a meet record."
In the college women's 400 hurdles, Fawn Dorr of Penn State took the top spot in 57.78. Kishelle Paul of TCU was second in 58.86 and Wake Forest's Caroline Vaughn took third in 58.92.
Cristina Falcone took the women's Olympic Development steeplechase in 10:38.70, while Stephanie Pancoast of Cornell won the college 3,000 steeplechase in 10:30.46.
In the men's Olympic Development steeplechase, Luke Watson won with a time of 8:55.64. Scott MacPherson of Arkansas won the college 3,000 steeplechase championship in 8:44.64.
Michigan's Danielle Tauro took the women's college 3,000 in 9:33.18. Jasmine Jennings of Rhode Island was tops in the women's college hammer throw at 190 feet, while Nadia Alexander of Louisiana Tech took the shot put with a throw of 54-feet, 8 3/4 inches. Virginia's Meghan Briggs claimed the javelin title at 172 feet, 9 inches.
Shara Proctor of Florida won the women's long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 4½ inches.
Tennessee's Jackie Aerson won the women's college 5,000 championship in 16:11.71, and Toni Salucci won the women's Olympic Development 5,000 with a time of 16:17.70.
John Anderson, of Army, took the men's college 5,000 championship in 13:58.23, and Lucas Meyer won the men's Olympic Development 5,000 in 14:07.97.
George Washington's Megan Hogan won the women's college 10,000 in 33:55.23, and Mariko Holbrook won the women's Olympic Development 10,000 in 34:40.05.
Amos Sang won the men's college 10,000 in 29:34.21, and Andrew Cloke took the men's Olympic Development 10,000 in 29:41.29.
The Relays continue on Friday, led by high school and elementary school competitions but also including a number of men's and women's college events. The competition concludes on Saturday, highlighted by six USA vs. the World relay races.