Gabriel Mvumvure, LSU's outstanding sprinter, needs no prompting when asked what he loves about the Penn Relays - the crowds, the people he meets, the cheesesteaks, "just every moment," he says.
It also means a lot because the Penn Relays is the place where he was discovered as a high school runner from Zimbabwe in 2007. On the same Franklin Field track Saturday, Mvumvure said goodbye to the Penn portion of his college career with the meet's most dominant performance in the sprints.
Competing before a crowd of 48,531 that kept the volume pumped up all day, the 5-foot-7 senior anchored LSU to victories in the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays and also captured the college 100-meter dash, helping the Tigers join Texas A&M as the only multiple winners of the 117th carnival.
The Aggies women added the 4x200 to their 4x100 and shuttle hurdles relay victories of Friday. The Texas A&M men closed out the weekend by breezing to a win in the 4x400.
Given that his three successful races all came in a span of 21/2 hours, Mvumvure, who pronounces his name "voo-vure-ay . . . the M is silent," accurately called it a victory of "mind over matter."
"That's how we practice," he said. "We always tell ourselves we're not tired. Whenever we come here, we're really trained to do everything. You get fatigued running a lot of events, but at the same time you've got to stay positive because it takes four guys to run a relay. So we pump ourselves up and get hyped and we run."
The Tigers used excellent handoffs to trounce the field in the 4x100 in a time of 38.77 seconds, then showed the same dexterity with the baton to nip Texas A&M in the 4x200 in 1 minute, 20.62 seconds. Mvumvure motored 100 meters in 10.33 for his third watch of the day, and fifth at the Penn Relays.
And to think when he first considered the offer from LSU, which recruited him when he was competing here with a team from the foundation World Wide Scholarships, he feared the school was too big for him.
"I was kind of scared to come over," he said. "But the only way out of Zimbabwe is to come to the U.S. Everything is great over here. So when I went back home, I was just so determined because I saw a lot of stars here like Shawn Crawford and Tyson Gay. I was really focused, and when I left Penn Relays I started working hard."
Horatio Williams and Tristan Walker ran with Mvumvure on both relays with different leadoff men - Keyth Talley on the 4x100 and Riker Hylton on the 4x200.
Texas A&M's women's team, which set the carnival record of 1:29.42 last year in the 4x200, settled for a win in 1:29.96 on Saturday, third-fastest in Penn Relays history. The Aggies were anchored by Dominique Duncan, who was part of Friday's 4x100 champions.
"It's a new and humbling experience every time we win," Duncan said. "Every time we come to the Penn Relays we don't think about ourselves as the record holders or the coming back people. We think about how we have to win this time, next time, and other times."
The Aggies men came up with their only win in the 4x400, eking out a win over LSU in 3:01.73.
Four different teams reached the finish line ahead of the field in Saturday's other championship races. Virginia's men successfully defended their 4x800 title when Robby Andrews outkicked Penn State's Casimir Loxsom for the win in 7:12.15, less than a second off the Nittany Lions' 26-year-old carnival record. Andrews was timed in 1:46.00.
Princeton won a Championship of America race at the carnival for the first time since 1940, with anchor Mark Amirault catching and passing Arkansas in the final 50 meters of the 4-x-mile to win in 16:19.98.
In women's finals, Texas captured the 4x400 in 3:30.08 and Duke picked up a 4x800 title in 8:25.95.
Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or firstname.lastname@example.org