WMU 4x800 Squad Crowned Penn Relay Champions

WMU 4x800 Squad Crowned Penn Relay Champions

Provided by WMU

PHILADELPHIA -- Aisha Hodge, Rachel Whitley, Cara Cremeans and Jeriesha Tucker capped of the Western Michigan track and field team's weekend at the Penn Relays going out champions in the 4x800-meter relay on Saturday.

The same group shattered the WMU 4x800-meter relay record at last year's Drake Relays and combined to best that effort by .35 seconds with a new program-best time of 8:48.40. The squad featured two 800-meter MAC Champions in Hodge and Whitley and was able to best second-place Kent State by nearly two seconds. The Broncos finished at the top of a field of 29 squads.

Hodge led the race off with a 2:09 split, battling with Kent State's Melinda Sawnor. Whitley pushed the the Broncos into the lead and then Cremeans extended it by about 30-meters heading into the anchor leg.

"I have to give it to Aisha, Cara and Rachel," said head coach Kelly Lycan. "They bounced back after a tough day in the distance medley yesterday and Jeriesha did a good job holding on for the win. Those three seniors (Cremeans, Tucker and Whitley) came in as a big group and it was neat to have them get this experience and go out champions in front of 50,000 fans."

Lindsey Hufnagel, Iris Campbell, Kathryn Pickett and Andrea Arnold combined to run the team's best 4x400-meter relay time of the season at 3:39.59. The Broncos took fifth overall and shaved five seconds off their time from Thursday's heats.

"There is so much tradition here and it was great to be a part of it," added Lycan. "THis is the biggest meet in track and field and being a Penn Relays champion is pretty cool."

Western Michigan hosts the Jack Shaw Classic on Friday, May 3 for its lone home meet of the season before it heads to the Outdoor MAC Championships the following week in Akron, Ohio.