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115th Penn Relays

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

Franklin Field, Philadelphia PA



PHILADELPHIA – The Columbia NJ girls were thisclose to claiming a giant wooden Penn wheel and four gold watches that come with finishing as the top Americans in a championship relay race.

And they can blame Emily Menges of Garden City NY for coming up short in what was otherwise an unbelievable weekend for the girls from Maplewood.

With Columbia running in fourth place and first among American teams – Jamaican squads held the top three slots -- Menges wiped out Columbia’s 15-second lead on the rest of the pack and forced coach Lisa Morgan’s foursome to settle for the title of second-fastest American team in the 4x800-meter relay Championship of America at the 115TH Penn Relays yesterday at Franklin Field.

Menges’ blazing 2:10.0 split helped Garden City take American honors and fourth place overall in 9:11.9, and Columbia finished fifth in 9:16.00. Columbia’s effort was more than eight seconds faster than they time it ran to win its large school heat on Thursday.

Jamaicans swept the top three places. Edwin Allen won in 8:44.06, Holmwood Tech placed second in 8:47.00 and Manchester was third in 8:52.21.

Also from the Metro area, Bay Shore NY placed sixth overall in 9:16.74.

All four Columbia girls – juniors TyVonna Johnson (2:15.6) and Brittney Jackson (2:13.1), senior Melissa David (2:21.1) and sophomore Jade Johnson (2;26.1) -- ran personal bests.

``All I was thinking was I don’t care about my time, as long as I get my team in good position,’’ TyVonna Johnson said. ``I’m very proud of my team, and I’m so happy that my father (Science Park head track coach Tyrone Johnson) could be here to see us run so fast.’’

Hunterdon Central NJ, led by UConn-bound senior Brigitte Mania’s leadoff split of 2:18, finished eighth overall in 9:22.56. Pope John NJ which received a leadoff split of 2:16.5 from Virginia-bound senior Emily Carrollo, placed 10th in 9:26.00.

Columbia will be back in action today as the third seed in the girls’ Tri-State 4x100 final at 1:30 p.m. Freshman Whitney Jackson, juniors Jasmine Cook and Kelsey Jackson and sophomore Kayann Richards won their 4x100 heat in 48.94 on Thursday.

Columbia will be joined by top-seeded Paramus Catholic (48.31), as well as fourth-seeded Jackson and eighth-seeded Camden.

Paramus Catholic NJ, led by Ashler Beasley, Rae Corbo, Bryanna Knight and Myasia Jacobs, placed sixth in the high school girls’ large school 4x100 final in 47.74, lowering their own Bergen County record which they originally broke in the 4x100 preliminaries with a 48.31. Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley, Calif., won in 46.72.

Neptune NJ, led by sophomore Karon McDaniel, senior Michael Peavy, sophomore Charles Davis and senior Tyquan Brown, posted the fastest American 4x100 (42.30) among small school relays – Jamaican teams claimed the six fastest times in that division.

Neptune was the fastest time among all New Jersey teams, the fourth fastest among American teams and the 14th fastest overall out of 520 teams.  

Neptune, which missed the eight-team Championship of America race by .13 seconds, qualified for the small school 4x100 final, slated for today at 1:37 p.m. It is Neptune’s first final of any kind since the late 1970s, according to coach John Chambers.

``Our goal was to get into the Championship of America race, but at least we made a final,’’ Brown said. ``We know we can go faster and possibly win it if we get our handoffs down.’’

Also in the small school final, Weaver of Hartford CT and North Babylon NY qualified for the final two slots in the eight-team race by running identical times of 43.07.

In the large school division, Plainfield NJ (42.70) was the fastest team from New Jersey, the ninth fastest American team and the 13th fastest in that division. Plainfield is the first alternate for the large school 4x100 final, slated for 1:40 p.m.

The top 20 fastest New Jersey boys 4x100 relays were Neptune (42.30), Plainfield (42.70), St. Peter’s Prep (43.16), Glassboro (43.35), Delsea (43.42), St. Benedict’s Prep (43.43), West Deptford (43.43), Irvington (43.43), Rahway (43.46), Columbia (43.50), Trenton (43.60), Hunterdon Central (43.64), Haddon Heights (43.69), Camden (43.71), Pennsauken (43.78), Cherokee (43.94), Don Bosco Prep (43.95), Old Bridge (44.04), Westfield (44.04), Washington Township (44.05) and Paulsboro (44.10).

Earning an automatic spot in that large school 4x100 final was Sheepshead Bay NY, which ran 42.24 to qualify as the second seed. Western Branch of Chesapeake VA is the top seed with a 42.17.

Brett Johnson, a senior at Ocean City NJ, finished fourth in the boy’s mile in 4:15.88 and Delbarton NJ junior Pat Schellberg placed fifth (4:16.52).

Doug Smith, a senior at Gill St. Bernard’s NJ, led a quartet of Jersey runners in the boys’ 3,000 meters, placing sixth in 8:33.68. Millburn NJ junior Tyler Udland placed 11th (8:42.33), Union Catholic NJ junior D.J. Thornton was 15th (8:45.93), and Shawnee NJ junior David Forward was 16th (8:45.95).   

Charlotte Pope of New Rochelle NY placed fourth in the girls’ discus with a heave of 133-0. Claire Dishong of Brockport NY was fifth (130-9).

Andrew Pierce of Cumberland Regional NJ placed fifth in the boys’ javelin in 188-10 and Andrew Bocskocsky of Lakeland NY was sixth with a 185-2.