New Jersey Week by Ed Grant

April 27, 2004

It took 20 years and a change in school name, but Winslow Twp finally got the Penn Relay 1600-meter relay championship that eluded it in such literally painful circumstances in 1984.

Edgewood, as it was known in those days, had led the morning trials by more than two seconds and seemed a cinch for the title with Dennis Mitchell on the anchor leg. And it was in perfect position to win at the end of the second leg when, in a wild scuffle at the exchange zone, its incoming runner, Lee Jerkins---who was even smaller than Mitchell---suddenly found himself dumped into the inside track without a baton. By the time he retrieved it, the leaders were heading around the first turn and even a 46.4 anchor by Mitchell was not enough as the Eagles finished third.

Last year, with its national champion "double twin" team, Winslow lost a very close race to Long Beach Poly in the final strides and with the Freemans and Miles graduated, was a definite outsider going into this year's race, having failed to break 3:20 in its early outdoor outings. But this all changed when the Eagles won the South Jersey large school race in 3:14.78, fastest time of the 45 or so qualifying races.

The final, almost six hours later, was almost a carbon copy of the trial as Winslow dropped back on the first leg, moved up to fourth in the next two carries and left anchor Reuben McCoy with about 15 yards to make up on the leaders, Long Beach Poly and Wolmer's Boys of Jamaica. McCoy quickly halved that distance, then made his big move around the final turn to pass third-place Camden and then the two leaders as they entered the home stretch. He won with a couple of yards to spare in 3:13.71 and his 46.0 was the fastest leg ever run by a New Jersey high school athlete at Penn, shading Mitchell's 46.2 in the 1984 trials.

This victory was the highlight of a New Jersey effort which also included a second-place 41.32 by Camden in the 400-meter relay and a third for the Purple Knights in the 1600 in 3:15.33. Winslow won two other races on Saturday, the girls taking the Philadelphia area 1600 relay in 3:49.30 and the boys taking the small-school consolation 400 in 41.64 after a bad pass in Friday's trials kept them out of the title event. This time would have placed them fourth in that race, where Glenville scored Ohio's first Penn victory in 74 years.

Winslow's win in the Philadelphia area race was the highlight for New Jersey girls, who failed to place in any of the championship events and didn't have a qualifier in either the 400 or 1600. East Orange Campus was the fastest 400 team, running 47.74 in the large-school consolation final, while Franklin turned in a 3:42.80 in its 1600 class race, leaving its young team three seconds short of a qualifying mark, but with great hopes for the future.

The individual action was filled with second-place efforts, but only two gold, Kyle Calvo of Somerville in the high jump at 6-11 (which he made on his third try to best Juan Cave, a New Jersey resident who attends St. Joseph's Prep, Philadelphia), and Jocelyn White of Delsea with a personal best of 157-2 in the discus. Among the silver medlasts were the state's two pole vault stars, Danielle O'Reilly of Shawnee, who cleared 12-3 1/2, and Adam Sarafian of Ocean Twp, who topped 15-5, both about a foot below their best. Maura Burk of Freehold Twp came closest to a win, losing the high jump on a jumpoff at 5-7. The most frustrating event was the girls' javelin where five Jerseyans placed behind the winner, led by Amanda Harmata at 148-5.

On the track, Mohamed Khadraoui of Paterson Kennedy led the 3K most of the way, but faltered on the final lap and Ian Fitzgerald of North Hills, Pa., shot past for an 8:22.42. Mohamed''s 8:25.20 was roughly equivalent to his 9:02.72 indoor mark at 3200 meters. McCoy seemed headed for victory in the Saturday morning 400-meter hurdles when his heel hit the ninth hurdle and he almost fell, recovering to place third in 53.80.

Christian Brothers led the state in both distance events, placing fifth in the DMR in 10:17.35 and just missing the 3200 final at 7;56.28. Ocean City did make the girls 3200 final at 9:23.06, in the process unveiling a new star in sophomore Renee Tomlin, who anchored in 2:13.2, seventh-fastest split of the trials in the fourth 800 race of her career (she is a swimmer by trade). The Raiders' state cross-country champion, Brittanly Sedberry, who lost most of the indoor season to a stress fracture, returned in convincing fashion, placing fifth in the 3K in 10:07.49. These two sophomore classmates could make a lot of noise in coming years at the Relays.

Ed Grant


DyeStat New Jersey


is published by
John Dye

Baltimore MD