#PenRelays2018 coverage is brought to you from Franklin Field Stadium (April 26-28) by WIHCON
PHILADELPHIA – The remarkable Jamaican high school relay teams arrive in Philadelphia again this week for the 124th running of the Penn Relays.
The Relays will run April 26 through 28 at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
Calabar 4×100 set the astonishing new meet record of 39.00 a year ago. This season, they have already run 39.17 to win Champs, using a stable of sprinters that includes Tyreke Wilson (10.21), Michael Stephens (10.46), Christopher Taylor (20.35) and Anthony Carpenter (20.57). They have won the 4×1 seven times at the Relays, two short of the record.
Kingston College, which won the race in 2013 and 2016, has won the 4×1 eight times. KC is led by Jhevaughn Mattherson (10.41) and Tenique Stennett (10.37). They ran 39.92 at Champs in finishing second to Calabar last month. Nine other Jamaican schools have run 41 flat or faster this spring: Jamaica College (40.01), led by Ryiem Robertson (10.28) and Michali Everett (10.44), Papine (40.71); St. Jago (40.73), winner in 2007; Rusea’s (40.89); Excelsior (40.92); Petersfield (40.94), and Greater Portmore (40.99); St. Elizabeth Tech (41.00), led by Sachin Dennis, winner of the Group II 100 in 10.20, and Conroy Jones (10.52), and Wolmer’s Boys (41.00).
On the domestic side, the leading teams are Western Branch (Va.), third a year ago at 40.82; Bullis (Md.), 1:26.71 indoors in the 4×2, led by Eric Allen, Jr. (10.43/20.94) and Bryce Watson (10.85); DeMatha (Md.), 1:27.55, led by Brendon Stewart (6.66 indoor 60); Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 1:28.72
Also from the islands are Christ Church of Barbados and Queen’s Royal College of Trinidad.
Qualifying to the 4×1 final will have a new procedure at this year’s Relays. First, nine lanes will be used, meaning the fastest nine schools will go to the Championship Final, one more than in the past. Second, the Large School and Small School affiliations will be ignored. Instead, the next fastest nine International teams will comprise one consolation final. Another will be the fastest nine from the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. After those have been established, the remaining teams will be divided by North and South into two additional consolation finals, using the Mason-Dixon Line as the dividing line.
Calabar broke the Relays meet record last year, running 3:08.59 in the 4×400. This spring, they ran a midseason 3:05.04, the fastest ever by a Jamaican high school team. They ran another 3:05 at Champs but later were disqualified for using an ineligible runner.
Even by Jamaican standards, these are times that are difficult to fathom, as it puts Calabar five seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Their stable of quarter-milers includes Shemar Chambers (46.18), Evaldo Whitehorse (4715), Anthony Carpenter (45.47) and Christopher Taylor (45.27).
Eight other Jamaican schools have been under 3:15 this spring, led by Kingston College (3:09.98), Third a year ago, KC is led by Deshaun Morris, this year’s Champs 400 winner in 45.09.
The surprise winner of the Champs was Petersfield (3:10.64), followed by Jamaica College (3:10.93) and Rhodes Hall (3:11.06). JC features Colby Jennings (46.73). Last year’s runner-up, Edwin Allen, has run 3:12.82 this year. EA has Chevannie Hanson (46.03). St. Jago (3:12.16) has Andy Williams (46.99) and Anthony Cox (46.34). There’s also Wolmer’s (3:13.03) and Holmwood Tech (3:14.76).
Last year’s top-finishing domestic school, East Orange Campus (N.J.) in fifth place, returns a solid lineup. EO ran 3:11.69 a year ago and 3:16.60 indoors this winter. The nation’s leading team indoors was St. Joseph’s Prep of Philadelphia (3:16.08), starring Miles Green (47.82).
Bullis, seventh a year ago, ran 3:13.42 in 2017 and 3:19.42 indoors. Others that ran well indoors include Western Branch (Va.), 3:18.94; Newburgh (N.Y.), 3:18.88; Union Catholic (N.J.), 3:20.16; and Freeport (l .1., N.Y.), 3:20.20.
4×800 Jamaican schools took the top four places a year ago, and those schools and others return well-stocked. Three have broken 7:40 this spring: St. Jago, runner-up a year ago, 7:35.18; Jamaica College, fourth in ’17, 7:37.43; and Kingston College, seventh last year, 7:34.45. KC is led by Tarees Rhoden (1:51.77), JC by Ken Reyes (1:50.28) and Dugion Blackman (1:50.86) and Jago by Denvare Robinson (1:54.24) and Jauavney James (1:50.07).
Last year’s champion, St. Elizabeth Tech, has run a modest 7:48.60 this spring, 15 seconds slower than last year’s winning time. The other Jamaican entries are Calabar (7:44.30), Holmwood Tech (7:53.61) and Edwin Allen (8:11).
There are plenty of excellent American challengers, including four teams under 7:50 this winter indoors: Green Hope (NC), 7:41.43, led by Ian Delgado (1:51.06); Wadsworth (Ohio), 7:48.65, sixth a year ago; Western Branch (Va.), 7:49.62; and Bishop Shanahan (Pa.), 7:49.37, anchored by Josh Hoey. Hoey broke the national high school record indoors this winter in the 800, running 1:47.67. Other leading domestic schools are St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, NJ), led by Alfred Shawonza (1:52.43); North Hunterdon (NJ), 7:53.51; Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.), 7:50.10; and Ocean Lakes (Va.), 7:52.66.
DMR This is shaping up as a rematch between St. Anthony’s (Long Island, N.Y.) and Loudoun Valley (Va.). The two battled it out at the indoor high school nationals—a race won by Brentwood (Tenn.), which is not competing at the Relays—with St. Anthony’s finishing second in 9:56.36, Loudoun Valley third in 10:00.58. St. Anthony’s last won the DMR at the Relays 40 years ago, in 1978, with the future Olympian John Gregorek running the anchor leg. The last CHSAA champion was Mt. St. Michael, when it tied for first in 1985. Loudoun Valley, with Drew Hunter anchoring, won a dramatic victory at the 2016 Relays, then was seventh a year ago with a lineup that included Hunter’s younger brother, Jacob, along with Colton Bogucki on the anchor. Since then, another excellent runner has joined the team, as Sam Affolder—who ran on the Carlisle (Pa.) runner-up team here a year ago—now runs for Loudoun Valley. Mason Gatewood, a 4:12 miler, anchors St. Anthony’s.
Other contending teams include Northport (N.Y.), 10:08.89; St. Peter’s (S.I., N.Y.), 10:11.93; William H. Hall (West Hartford, Conn.), 10:13.85; and Hopewell Valley (Pennington, N.J.), 10:16.72. There are no international teams in the field.