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115th Penn Relays

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

Franklin Field, Philadelphia PA

Metro girls relay highlights


PHILADELPHIA - Hunterdon Central, led by Brigitte Mania’s monster anchor leg, and  Paramus Catholic each made some history yesterday as the 115TH Penn Relays opened up in front of 24,315 wind swept fans at Franklin Field.

Mania looked up after taking the baton from Kat Vodopia and saw four teams ahead of her as she began to run the anchor leg for Hunterdon Central’s 4x800-meter relay team.

It looked like there was little chance she could catch them all, especially the leader, Peri Bowman from Ocean Lakes High School in Virgina Beach, who was naearly 100 meters ahead.

But Mania methodically picked off runners as she blasted her way around the Franklin Field oval and finally reeled in Bowman with just over 100 meters left as she completed a remarkable split of 2:14.9 to bring her team ls across first in its heat in 9:28.27 before 24,315 at the opening day of the 115th Penn Relays.

Mania’s split, the fourth fastest among the 256 runners that ran and the best among U.S. runners, helped catapult Hunterdon Central into today’s 12-team Championship of America race.

It will be the first appearance for Hunterdon Central in the 4x800 C of A, where it will is the sixth seed.

``I knew I had to just attack the second I got the baton,’’ said the UConn-bound Mania. ``I saw where the second place teams was and just focused on trying to gete them, but then I saw how close I was to the lead and just kept pushing myself. I saw her slow up on that third 200 and that’s when I kind of knew I could get her.’’

Mania said she felt there was an outside shot that Hunterdon Central could make the final, but she was surprised by how everything unfolded.

``We thought it might take around 9:17 to make the final and our times didn’t add up to that,’’ said Mania. ``But we told ourselves that if we things broke right and wee had a chacne we could pull it off.’’

The first three legs for Hunterdon Central were handled by sophomore Allison Payenski (2:23.5), junior Rashmi Singh (2:24.6), and freshman Kat Vodopia (2:25.3).

Hunterdon Central coach Ludwik Lubaszka said it was case of everything coming together at the right time.

``They have all learned how to finish,’’ said Lubaszka, who has had many teams qualify for the Penn  Championship of America race in the distance medley.

``Kat for instance is a kicker, and she was in perfect position with the right spacing to run fast and give it to Brigitte within striking distance of the leaders. who has had many teams qualify for the Penn Championship of America race in the distance medley.

Lubaszka said Mania is a different runner this year.

``She always had the speed and talent, but now she’s conquered the mental aspect of running.’’

Mania said that getting the whole team to understand that it can accomplish big goals and that it belongs with the elite teams has made a big difference.

``In the past we’ve had trouble in pressure situations, but I’ve been trying to get everyone to believe in themsleves and to just go out and run the way they are capable of,’’ said Mania. The Penn Relays can be an intimidating place to run, but I just told them that it’s a 400-meter track just like any other.’’

As for today’s final, Mania said the goal is simple.

``Hopefully we can just run as fast or even a bit faster,’’ said Mania.

As a reward for its C of A berth, Lubaszka said he’ll let his team wear its new black and white uniforms that they wanted to wear yesterday.

``That’s the least I can do for them,’’ he said. ``They earned it.’’

Meanwhile, Paramus Catholic burned up the track when it placed second to Oxon Hill (Md.) in its 4x100-meter relay in 48.31 to smash the Bergen County record and advance to the today’s Large School final and tomorrow’s Tri-State final.  

Paramus Catholic, which broke the county record of 48.6 that it shared  with  Teaneck’s 1980 team and the Queen of Peace of  2002.

Parmaus Catholic’s lineup consisted of juniors Asher Beasley, Rae Corbo, Bryanna Knight and junior Myasia Jacobs.

Paramus Catholic is the only N.J. team that qualified for the Large School final and it will be joined by Columbia (48.94), Jackson (49.02) and Camden the Tri-State Championhsip.

Amber Allen picked the perfect time to come with the best race of her career in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles.

Allen, a junior at Passaic Tech, put together a 1:00.33, tied for No. 15 in state history, out of the second heat to suprisingly grab fourth place. Allen’s time is a personal best by four seconds.

In the 4x800 trials, Columbia, Hunterdon Central and Pope John advanced to the Friday's Championshsip of America final.

Pope John, which also made the final in 2007, was fourth in its heat in 9:29.11 to earn the seventh seed in the final. Its lineup consisted of Sarah Cariati (2:19.9), Paige Boehmcke (2:27.8), Ashton Wieler (2:26.4), and Emily Carrollo (2:15.5).

The rest of the N.J. 4x800 finishers were Randolph (9:34.29), Hillsborough (9:37.14), Seneca (9:37.14), Bernards (9:37.94),  Voorhees (9:41.50), Red Bank Catholic (9:47.89), Notre Dame (9:51.45), Millville (9:51.52) Summit (9:51.87),  

Randolph junior Molly Higgins and sophomore Joelle Amaral ran two of the fastest splits of the day.

Higgins led off in 2:16.0, No. 9 fastest time among the 256 girls that ran in the four 4x800 trial heats, and Amaral, a sophomore,  went 2:16.9, he 12th fastest.

The top 10 fatest 4x400 teams from New Jersey in the trials were Columbia (3:56.3), Camden (3:57.23), Seneca (4:02.63), Neptune (4:02.96), Toms River North (4:02.71), Willingboro (4:03.67), West Windsor-Plainsboro South (4:04.97), Voorhees (4:05.27), Delsea (4:05.33), and Hopewell Valley (4:05.87)

The 10 fastest 4x100 teams from New Jersey were Paramus Catholic (48.31), Columbia (48.94),Jackson (49.02), Camden (49.49), South Brunswick (49.71), Rancocas Valley (50.00), Hopewell Valley (50.04), Willingboro (50.11), Teaneck (50.46) and Science Park (50.80).