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14th Lenox/Warwick Fast Times Relays

Tim St. Lawrence Track, Warwick Valley HS, Warwick NY

Monday June 2, 2008

Warwick sweeps girls 4x4/4x8, Ramapo takes boys 4x1/4x4
Fordham Prep tops stellar boys 4x800 field at Lenox Fast Times Relays

Fordham Prep NY anchor Mike Jennings leads a parade of teams under 8-minutes in the 4x800 - Photo by John Nepolitan
By Jamie Kempton

The place was rockin’, and the runners were rolling.

The annual baton-fest known as the Lenox Fast Times Relays once again made the upstate New York town of Warwick a hotbed of stick-passing excitement. The 14th yearly edition of the meet Monday night had thumping motivational music, an enthusiastic crowd, perfect racing conditions under the lights and – most important – a profusion of quality performances.

Warwick Valley played the role of gracious hosts and enjoyed some of their own hospitality, sweeping the girls’ 4x400 (meet-record 3:51.48) and 4x800-meter relays with the same four girls. In the 4x800, the Wildcats clocked 8:55.61, second-fastest in the U.S. this season and 13th fastest all-time.

Not to be outdone, the Ramapo boys won both the 4x100 in a quick 42.45 and the 4x400 in 3:18.08, second-fastest in New York state this season. The pole vaulters also took advantage of the electrified atmosphere to scale impressive heights. Sydnie LeRoy, a junior from Port Jervis, won the girls’ vault with a state-leading clearance of 12 feet, 4 inches. Brian McGovern of Mount St. Michael, vaulting long after the rest of the field had finished, tried three times at a state-record height of 16-5 but could not convert. Instead, he had to “settle” for a winning vault of 16 feet – an outstanding height by anyone’s standards.

For sheer sustained intensity and depth, it was tough to match the boys’ 4x800, won by Fordham Prep in a state-pacing 7:47.35 – one of 11 teams under 8:00. Somers’ John Turro extended the Tuskers’ early lead with a 1:54.1 carry on the second leg, but Warwick then stormed into first on the strength of third-leg Mike Fox’s 1:53.4 effort, while Monsignor Farrell moved closer to contention with James Farley’s 1:54.6. With one lap to go, Warwick still held the lead but looming right behind was the posse from the New York City Catholic schools – Fordham Prep, Kellenberg Memorial, Monsignor Farrell, Chaminade and Iona Prep.

Down the final backstretch Fordham Prep’s Mike Jennings, Kellenberg’s Michael Elnick and Chaminade’s Michael Schieck waged a three-way battle that was not won until the final strides by Jennings. His 1:53.9 split held off Schieck (1:53.2) and Elnick (1:53.3) as Fordham Prep edged Chaminade (7:47.79) and Kellenberg (7:47.83). How would you like to be Farrell and Iona Prep, relegated to fourth and fifth yet running 7:51.43 and 7:51.58, respectively? Or Scarsdale (7:52.43), Warwick (7:53.16) and Somers (7:53.37)? There was no shame in finishing sixth, seventh or eighth in this race.

“There were so many good teams, we were just aiming for the top five,” said Jennings, who was set up by fellow juniors Zachary Keefer (1:59.0), Carlos Petrovich (1:56.2) and Harley Griffiths (1:57.7). “When Kellenberg [Elnick] passed me, that’s when it got rough. I knew he has a real good kick. I started to die out a little at the end but I held on. This feels awesome.”

Fordham Prep coach George Febles said the team had talked about shutting down for the season after losing to Farrell at the New York City championships last week, but the team regrouped and primed themselves with a state-leading 3:17.31 4x400 at the Reebok Grand Prix on Saturday at Icahn Stadium. They just missed school records – which date back to 1970 – in both the 4x4 and 4x8.

Warwick had better success in the school record department. The Wildcat girls’ 4x800 not only eclipsed their school record by two seconds, they also made their mark on the national rankings with an emphatic triumph. After Kristen Jados led off with a 2:18.2 split to put Warwick in fourth, sophomore Lillian Greibesland blew the race open, gaining a 30-meter lead with a scintillating 2:09.9 carry. Claire Pettit (2:13.2) widened it to 50 meters and Tori Pennings (2:14.0) brought it home by a comfortable margin over runner-up Lenape, N.J. (9:05.83).

“I was just focused on chasing; I’m more of a hunter,” said Greibesland, who also was slotted at second leg at the national indoor meet and last year’s outdoor nationals. “This is my favorite home meet. There’s so much energy, magic happens.”

The same foursome – Pennings (59.9), Greibesland (57.3), Pettit (56.4) and Janos (57.5) – came back at the end of the meet to score a conclusive victory in the 4x400. Greibesland gave Warwick a slight lead and Pettit extended it to 20 meters to break it open. “Lillian almost always hands it off in first,” Pettit said. “So I thought just to run as fast as I can.” North Rockland wound up second in 3:54.76, followed by Suffern (3:55.28).

Ramapo’s boys have established themselves this year as a sprinting powerhouse, and they burnished that reputation with their 4x100 and 4x400 sweep. Mike Abelard’s strong third leg moved the Gryphons past Newburgh into the lead, and anchor Kevin Malivert left no doubt, crossing the line in 42.45 ahead of Newburgh’s 42.97. Shaquan Belizaire and Nick Padilla ran Ramapo’s first two legs.

“I know that any time I get the baton I want to give Kevin the lead,” said Abelard, who has been on the mend from a hamstring injury sustained at the Penn Relays in late April. “It’s more of a mental pain. I just block it out, forget about it and run 100 percent.”

Abelard returned for the 4x400 and split a 49.3 second leg, handing off virtually even with Warwick for the lead. Teammate Chidi Ezemma then gave Ramapo an insurmountable 25-meter lead with his 48.6 leg, and his brother, Dozie, anchored in 49.7 to complete the Gryphon victory. Ryan Whitley led off for Ramapo in 50.2. Farrell finished second (3;21.23) and Warwick third (3:22.96).

In the evening’s other relay, the Woodlands foursome of Dominique Forbes, Diana Sainvil, Sharlene Chisolm and Alexa Easterling edged Newburgh, 49.54 to 49.56, in the girls’ 4x100.

In the other field events, Sean Reilly of Arlington won the boys’ high jump at 6-7, and Sarah Palmer of Schuylerville took won the girls’ high jump at 5-6. Teammate Dan Ladd prevailed in the boys’ shot put (49-11.25), while Deanna Knapp of Middletown captured the girls’ shot put (35-11.25).

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