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115th Penn Relays

Thu.-Sat., April 23-25, 2009

Franklin Field, Philadelphia PA

SteveU's Quick Entry Analysis
  • Boys Individual Running - Although the mile will not include previously entered Robby Andrews NJ (see Distance Relays preview below), it is still an outstanding international field.  The nation's top two outdoor returnees from last year, Brett Johnson NJ (4:08.51) and Drew Shields IN (4:09.64) are entered and should get a big challenge from Canadian junior 1500 champ Jeremy Rae (3:49.12) and new Trinidad and Tobago find Gavyn Nero (3:47.56 to win Carifta Games April 11).  The 3k field will be led by Foot Locker champ Solomon Haile MD, along with FL 3rd-place finisher Thomas Porter VA, plus Nick Ross RI, Ben Furcht PA, Tyler Udland NJ, Doug Smith NJ, and Bobby Andrews NY.  The 400H should be led by Nicholas Maitland JAM and Niall Flannery UK.
  • Girls Individual Running - In the mile, US 1600 #1 Chelsey Sveinsson TX - 3rd last year in 4:43.51 - will be the overwhelming favorite.  The girls 3k, however, will be far deeper, with 10 Foot Locker Finalists entered.  That group includes 2008 Penn mile champ Stephanie Morgan OH, as well as the 2-3-5 finishers from last year's Penn 3k in Emily Jones MA, Melanie Thompson NJ, and Shelby Greany NY.  2009 NIN mile champ Emily Lipari NY and 2009 NSIC 5k and 2M champ Chelsea Ley NJ are also part of the deep, deep field.  The girls 400H will also have one of its deepest fields ever with Arcadia 1-2 Kori Carter CA and Turquoise Thompson CA coming east to do battle again, plus Eleanor Roosevelt MD star Doris Anyanwu, who won the 400H at Arcadia.
  • Boys Individual Field - All eyes will again be on defending shot put champ and super soph Nick Vena NJ, now a 70-footer.  Skylar LaCour CA leads the HJ list at 7-00.25, but 2008 runner-up Jonathon Reid JAM also returns.  In the LJ, 24-footers defending champ James Taylor VA, Jordan Hill VA, and Carlton Lavong PA will battle, while the TJ field includes NIN runner-up Ricardo Jacquite MA, Jeffery Artis VA, and Ramone Bailey JAM.  221-footer Justin Shirk PA leads the jav field.
  • Girls Individual Field - A handful of defending champs are back, including Emily Vannoy MD in the shot, Peter-Gaye Reid JAM in the HJ, Tynita Butts VA in the LJ, and Adaobi Unachukwu NJ in the TJ.  Butts, also the NSIC champ in the long jump, could get a stiff challenge from 2008 runner-up Jen Clayton NY.  VA state champ Jasia Richardson will also be a top TJ contender.  In the PV, last year's 2-3 - Victoria Worthen PA and Chrissy Finkel NJ - return to try for the title.
  • Boys Distance Relays - For those who watched the great performances of Albemarle VA and West Windsor Plainsboro North NJ at NIN, Penn will mark a welcome return.  The Virginia squad, setters of the 7:36.99 4x800 USR indoors, is the favorite in that event, but there should also be strong showings from Morris Hills NJ, which ran 7:43.91 at NIN, 2008 Penn runner-up North Penn, Arcadia champ Monsignor Farrell and other PA, NJ, and NY powers.  WWPN, the NIN 4x1 Mile champs and 3rd in the DMR, will be fresh for the DMR here.  They twice ran 10:07 indoors.  Danbury CT, Shen NY, and Upper Dublin PA will be among the top challengers.  Manalapan NJ will be anchored by 800 and 1000 indoor record setter and Millrose mile champ Robby Andrews, but with a team best of 10:30, it will be a long chase.
  • Girls Distance Relays - Last year, Jillian Smith didn't have quite a deep enough team around her for Southern Regional NJ to pull off a DMR victory.  This year, the question is whether Smith herself is ready for a top race.  NIN proved that Southern Regional's other legs were strong enough to help pull off history's second-fastest time.  But how well they do now will depend on Smith's recovery from a recent injury.  Meanwhile, NIN runner-up Shen is fast enough to win with a break.  In the 4x800, Eleanor Roosevelt lost most of the firepower from their USR-setting runner-up crew and is more likely to contend for the win in the 4x1 and 4x4.  Still, they'll probably be low 9:00s, along with NSIC champ St. John Villa and Lincoln-Sudbury MA.  On the Jamaican side, don't expect another 8:41 by Holmwood Tech after graduation losses, but that school, Edwin Allen, and Manchester all have combos that could hit the 8:50s.  The best anchor should come from Natoya Goule, who ran 2:04.29 in the Jamaican champs.
  • Boys Sprint Relays - St. Jago JAM and St. Elizabeth Tech JAM are the teams to beat, with the former hoping to defend its 2008 title.  Both ran in the 3:12s at the national champs.  California powers Rancho Verde and Serra have run 3:17 and 3:18, while NSIC champ Newburgh Academy NY (3:17) and NIN champ Western Branch VA (3:19) will lead East Coast hopes.  In the boys 4x100, Calabar JAM is on another planet this year, thanks to its 39.90 at the national champs - this despite only one returnee from their 2008 championship team.  St. Jago is also very good at 40.38.  The top US team last year was Westlake MD in 4th and they return their top man in NIN 60 champ Devon SmithSheepshead Bay NY, runner up at Arcadia last week, is also a strong finals contender.
  • Girls Sprint Relays - Though they lost half of the team that repeated the 4x400 title last spring, Eleanor Roosevelt MD has the firepower again to run as fast as their 3:37.12 last year, or close to it, thanks largely to transfer Auriyelle Scott.  Their problem is that Holmwood Tech scored an astonishing meet record 3:34.35 at the national champs last month, more than a second faster than the USR.  Holmwood's best is 14-year-old wunderkind Chris-Ann Gordon, who ran 52.68 in the open 400.  Manchester and Edwin Allen are also 3:36-37 teams.  Roosevelt's chances may be better in the 4x100, where they have run 45.38 to Holmwood's 45.02.  Holmwood actually had a second team (younger age) that went 45.04 in the championships, so it's possible they can combine the best for a sub-45 team.  Rancho Verde and Serra, both California teams, are other finals threats.