*More than 5,000 athletes from over 150 schools in six states will compete in the first annual Marine Corps Holiday Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory on West 168th Street. This is actually the fifth year for the meet, but the first year the Marine Corps, long sponsor of the renowned Quantico Relays in Virginia, is sponsoring the Armory event.
*Former Mayor David Dinkins and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are expected to attend. They will present awards to victorious athletes from approximately 1-3 p.m., when the featured events will take place. The meet will begin at 9 a.m. Commissioner Kelly's schedule is subject to change.
*The Marine Corps Relay, featuring teams from New York, New Jersey and the Headquarters Office in Garden City, NY, will be held at 1:30 p.m. At 1:15 p.m., Major Shane Tomko will sing the National Anthem accompanied by the Marine Corps Color Guard. Former Marines will present awards to event winners throughout the meet.
*Athletes can compete in the Marine Corps Chin-Up Challenge near the track. Prizes will be awarded based on how many chin-ups the athletes can do.
*The meet events are all relays with the exception of the boys and girls Invitational 800 Meter Runs.
*In the boys Championship Distance Medley Relay, defending champion Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft, NJ, will battle Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, NJ). CBA came out on top in the 3200-meter relay at the Bishop Loughlin Games this past Saturday (Dec. 18) with a time of 8:03.04. Northport (Long Island), the meet record holder (10:20.19, 2002), should give both teams a run for their money with two-time Foot Locker X-C qualifier Kevin Tschirhart on the anchor leg. Other contenders include Cardinal O'Hara of Springfield, PA, Commack, Long Island, and Colts Neck, NJ.
*In the boys Invitational 800 Meter Run, Elliot Henry of Exeter (New Hampshire) is favored. He has a 1:54.9 seed time. The strong field also includes sophomore sensation Lionel Williams (Frosh National record holder) of St. Peter's (Staten Island), who has run 1:56.02; Julian Coswell (Elmont, NY). Jason Lakritz (Newburgh Free Academy, Newburgh, NY) and Michael Pachella (Walkill Valley, Walkill, NY). The meet record of 1:55.10 was set by Andre Silva of Middle Country (Long Island) in 2003.
*The boys field events, also all relays, could be outstanding. Three Bishop Loughlin Games Champions are scheduled to compete. They are: Gregory Ryan of Shenendehowa (Clifton Park, NY), who won the pole vault at 13-6; Jamar Byrd of Vineland (NJ) High School, who took the long jump at 23-3 ¾, and Prescott Hill of South Brunswick (NJ) High School, who was victorious in the shot put at 51-1 ¼.
*In the girls Championship Distance Medley Relay, defending champion and meet record holder Boys and Girls of Brooklyn is the strong favorite after easily winning at the Bishop Loughlin Games in the 3200-meter relay (9:30.90). Atholton (Columbia, MD) could push Boys and Girls after a victory at the Prince Georges County Sports Complex (MD). Other teams to watch include Bethlehem (NY), Warwick Valley (NY) and Bellport (Long Island). The meet record of 12:00.57, set by Boys and Girls in 2001, could fall.
*In the girls Invitational 800 Meter Run, the meet record of 2:15.0, set by Selena Sappleton of A. Philip Randolph (Manhattan) in 2003, is likely to fall. Three competitors are seeded at 2:16. Rolanda Bell of Sacred Heart Academy (Hempstead, Long Island); Mary Sullivan of Westhampton Beach (Long Island) and Mary Alice Howard of Somers (Lincolndale, NY) will all have their eyes on the clock.
*Admission is $10, with students and seniors admitted for $5.