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115th Penn Relays
Thu.-Sat., April 23-25, 2009
Franklin Field, Philadelphia PA


A mixed day for prep track queens

HIGHLIGHTS | VIDEOS - DMR - 3000 - Mile | PHOTOS - Nepo's Girls Distance - Nepo's Metro Girls - Davey's Girls I - Davey's Girls II
Prelims - Finals | DYESTAT METRO STORIES - 3k and DMR - 4x800 - Field Events - Relays

Chelsey Sveinsson TX and Stephanie Morgan OH win mile and 3000 in US#1 times. Tatnall DE girls win DMR over Southern Regional; ER girls 1 for 3 in relays

By SteveU

Some of the true queens of prep track and field came to Philadelphia Thursday, some expecting to have their crowns renewed, others to earn their first.  The relayers of Eleanor Roosevelt MD and Southern Regional NJ, and distance aces Stephanie Morgan OH and Chelsey Sveinnson all toed the line with lofty credentials, many of which had been earned on previous visits to Franklin Field. 

Coronation proved to be far from a given, though; when the dust had cleared, some of the queens held their watches or trophies high, but others walked away shaking their heads.

Sveinsson (photo at right by John Nepolitan) came in as the top returnee in the girls mile, and arguably the top prep distance runner so far this spring, and completely dominated the field, winning by more than 12 seconds in a US#1 4:46.85.  Meanwhile, 2008 Penn mile champ Morgan moved up to the 3k, where she wasn’t a clear favorite.  But she used a convincing kick to finish in a US#1 9:31.32, becoming the first girl to claim both events at Penn in her career (Matt Centrowitz has done it on the boys side).

On the other hand, Roosevelt rolled in with US-leading marks in both short relays and indeed roared to the top Championship of America qualifying spot in the 4x100 (46.11), but they missed qualifying in the 4x800 (not a huge surprise) and the 4x400 (a huge surprise).  Southern Regional fell into a 10-second deficit during the first leg of the DMR, which kept lengthening and became too big for Jillian Smith to come back from – resulting in a US#2 11:49.67 triumph for a deliriously happy Tatnall DE squad.

The field events found Tynita Butts VA and Emily Vannoy MD earning their second watches in the long jump and shot put, respectively.  The best mark of the day, however, came from Deloma “Fawn” Miller with a US#2 150-11 in the JT.  In the other individual running final, Nikita Tracey JAM dominated the 400H.

Individual distance aces come through big

The individual distance races followed dramatically different scripts in crowning their champions.  It looked like Sveinsson was by far the class of the mile field and that’s the way it played out.  Though she went out in a modest 72, the field didn’t even try to go with her, trailing by three seconds.  She picked it up to 2:22 at the 800, then just maintained 72s the final two laps as the field dropped further and further back. 

Sveinsson’s pacing has dramatically improved over last year, but by making sure she didn’t drop off in the middle – on a cool, breezy day where she didn’t feel great – she wasn’t able to kick and top her time from last year (where she had much more competition in finishing third).  Still, she won by more than a dozen seconds over Greater Latrobe PA’s Natalie Bower’s 4:49.25.  Hempstead NY’s Charlene Lipsey was 3rd in 5:00.50.

“I wasn’t really feeling it today,” said Sveinsson, who at once looked happy to win and disillusioned over her time.  “It was just kind of an ‘off’ race.”

Surprisingly, she said she was quite nervous before the race.  “This is one of the meets I really train for, one of the biggest meets of the season.  So my time was kind of disappointing.  But at least I know I can run 4:46 by myself.”

In contrast, a massive pack rolled off the line in the 3000, a field filled with many of the Northeast’s best distance runners, as well as Morgan and Kim Spano from North Carolina.  With 10 Foot Locker Finalists, it’s likely to hold up as the deepest field of the year before nationals.  As is her wont, Roslyn NY sr Emily Lipari moved into the lead, with North Shore NY’s Samantha Nadel, Morgan, Voorhees NJ sr Melanie Thompson, and Suffern NY sr Shelby Greany closest in a big pack of about 10.

At 1600 in about 5:08, Bromfield MA sr Emily Jones – the NON 2M runnerup and FL NE champ – powered into the lead and things started to break up.  Greany made sure she covered the move, and Morgan slipped in behind.  Lipari slipped back and would eventually be passed by Cornwall NY’s Aisling Cuffe for 4th, but just outkick Thompson and Nadel for 5th.

Jones continued to lead, with Greany by her side.  But as long as Morgan, with her 2:07/4:41y speed stayed close, it was going to be her race.  On the last lap, Jones and Greany started to pull 5-10 meters ahead, but when Morgan started kicking with 200 left, they could not hold her off.  The winner’s final lap was about 70.

Jones, who also ran a big PR 9:32.22, was very happy with her time, but not her strategy.  “I definitely took the lead too soon,” she said.  “Since I usually race 2 miles, I got confused by the laps.”

Morgan, who did not really compete indoors and has had a very low key outdoor season so far, had never broken 10:30 for 2M or 3200.  Her moving up to the 3K here is actually part of a long-range plan for her mile.  “I really want to feel good in the mile at the end of the season, and last year I had run so many miles by the end.  I think it’s better to do some 2-miles (or 3200/3000) at the beginning of the season.”

Still, Morgan had run 10:35 in a small meet in nasty conditions a few weeks ago, so she was confident.  “I ran with the intentions of winning,” she said.  “I felt I could win it in the last lap if I stayed in there.

“The race was kind of like the Nike Outdoor mile my sophomore year.  On the final backstretch, I felt really tired, but still like I had something left.  I kind of woke myself up in the final turn.”

Tatnall turns the tables

Tatnall’s most recent experience on the national stage had not been pretty.  They were a well-beaten third in the NIN 4x1 Mile.  Not bad for a lot of schools, but the Delaware power could do better than that.  Thursday, they proved it (photo at left by John Nepolitan).

Katie Buenaga handed off the baton after her 1200 having completed a 3:33.3 and just a fraction behind Monroe-Woodbury’s Megan Patrignelli.  She was 10 seconds ahead of Southern Regional’s Chelsea Cox, however.  Then Tatnall 400 leg Tia Cooper blasted a 57.4 400, pulling away from Monroe-Woodbury and adding another four ticks on the gap over Southern Regional.  Carly Simmons maintained with a 2:19.4 800, then the stick went to Juliet Bottorff, a solid sub-5:00 miler.  She was 15 seconds up on Southern Regional’s Jillian Smith.  Of course, Smith is capable of sub-4:45 and Bottorff has not always been consistent under 5:00.  The Tatnall sr went out in 68, but started to slow after that.  Could Smith make up the huge gap?

The answer was no.  Smith, having missed time recently with an injury, was not up for a sub-4:50 and Bottoroff did not fade too badly, finally erasing any last hope with some renewed energy on her kick, leading to a 4:59.3 finish.  Smith split 4:53.8.

Understandably, the Tatnall quartet was beyond ecstatic.

“NIN was kind of a rough race,” said Coach Patrick Castagno.  “But today is maybe the biggest thing this school has ever accomplished.”

“We were so excited,” said Bottorff of the opportunity to show what they could do again.  “We’re on Cloud 9 right now.  When I was watching, after what Katie ran and then Tia, it started to get insane.  There was a lot of adrenaline.  I knew I couldn’t let the team down.”

Ups and downs for Roosevelt

Meanwhile, Roosevelt was less than ecstatic after the 4x400.

They started the day well enough – actually better than well enough.  In very cool, breezy weather, they ripped a 46.11 4x100 to win the large schools division and, more importantly, score the top qualifier for the Championship of America Friday.  The team of Abidemi Adenikinju, Arieyall Scott, Jenea McCammons, and Afia Charles overcame the mediocre sprinting conditions with a faster time than their Jamaican counterparts.

“They did real good, even though the handoffs were real conservative,” said Roosevelt Coach Ron Johnson.  “Tomorrow, I think we’ll go a lot faster.”

But in the 4x400, Roosevelt looked like anything but their normal selves, with a fastest leg of just 56.9.

Roosevelt tried to go with just three of their four “A” team members in the 4x400, trying to rest McCammons (who would have otherwise been running four races) but it would be unfair to say the strategy backfired.  “She ran close to her PR,” said Coach Johnson of Danielle Calhoun.  “But we had two 53-second girls run around 57.

“Usually the tradition of the girls here is to rise to the occasion at the biggest meets; very rarely do all of the girls have mediocre performances.”

Roosevelt placed third in their race with 3:52.18, nearly 10 seconds off their national leader and trailing Serra CA (3:51.20) and Oxon Hill MD (3:50.48).  They wound up with just the 11th fastest time of the day as Holmwood Tech JAM led qualifying with 3:41.45.

Jamaican jumping double

The flashes of yellow and green that kept soaring through the air all afternoon at Franklin Field belonged to a pair of Air Jamaicans, teammates Rochelle Farquarson and Peter Gaye Reid.  The high flying duo from St. Elizabeth Tech in Jamaica dominated the high jump and triple jump with electrifying performances.

The 16-year-old Reid won the high jump for the second straight year by clearing a personal best 5-10 ¾, No. 2 in meet history.  The meet record of 6-0 ½ was set in 1990 by Tanya Hughes of Great Mills MD.

Reid, the sixth repeat champion in the event, nearly got knocked out of the competition at 5-6 ¼, but stayed alive by clearing that height on her final attempt.  ``I was a little nervous today, but I knew I could get it together on that last try (at 5-6 ¼),’’ said Reid. ``After that I got my strides right and everything started coming together.

Meanwhile in the triple jump, Farquharson hopped, skipped and jumped a wind-aided 41-1 ¾, No. 9 in meet history on her attempt in the final to dethrone defending champion Ada Unachukwu of  Marlboro NJ.

Unachukwu placed second with a wind-aided 40-0.

``I came here to get my best and almost did it,’’ said Farquharson. ``But to come here and win and have my teammate win is the most important thing.’’

Tracey blows 400H race apart

 The expected showdown between Nikita Tracey of Edwin Allen in Jamaica and Californians Turquoise Thompson and Kori Carter never materialized in the 400-meter hurdles.

Tracey made sure of that with a sizzling 57.44 victory, tied for the second-fastest in meet history with Nicole Leach of West Catholic (2005).  The meet record of 56.90 was set in 2006 by Sherene Pinnock of Edwin Allen.

Thompson of Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California finished a disappointing fifth overall in 1:00.40, while Carter was 8th overall in 1:01.67.  Thompson ran the nation’s top time last year of 57.67 when she won the USATF Junior Olympic title.  Carter is the US leader in the 100H, 300H and 400H.

Tracey came in with a 57.41 and was a finalist in the 400 hurdles at the World Junior Championships last year, where she placed eighth. ``I really didn’t worry about who else was in my race,’’ she said. ``I knew if I just ran my race, things would work out well.’’

Friday, Tracey would win the HS Girls Individual Athlete of the Meet award.

The 2-3 finishers came out of the second section, where Abingdon PA's Leah Nuggent was ran 1:00.05 and Passic Vo-Tech NJ's Amber Allen 1:00.33.

Marshall breaks out in PV

Mandissa Marshall has been waiting all season to have a breakout performance.  She couldn’t have picked a better time to come up with it.

Marshall, a senior at Mountain Top High in Crestwood PA cleared a personal season best 12-1 ¾ in the pole vault to knock off the favored Victoria Worthen of Council Rock South in Holland PA on missed to capture the title.  ``My best before today this season was 11-6, so I was hoping to finally get over 12 and everything finally came together,’’ she said.  ``It’s the biggest win I’ve ever had … something I’ll never forget.’’

Marshall’s personal best of 12-3 came when she was sixth at Nike Nationals last spring. She said the swirling winds that swept across Franklin Field really didn’t bother her.  ``It may have helped a little because it was a tailwind and gave me a little push on my way up.’’

Thursday Highlights
  • DyeStat Elite performances Thursday:  Finals - Prelims
  • Girls 3000 - Last year's mile winner, Stephanie Morgan OH, moves up to the 3k with equal success, taking down a deep field of Foot Locker finalists with her US#1 9:31.32 clocking.  Emily Jones MA is a close second at 9:32.22, with Shelby Greany NY third at 9:35.42. See race video here.
  • Girls Mile - Texas soph Chelsey Sveinsson continues her stellar year with US#1 4:46.85 win in the girls mile over runner-up Natalie Bower PA 4:59.25. See race video here.
  • Girls DMR - Juliet Bottorff's 4:59 anchor leads her Tatnall DE squad to US#2 11:49.37 over Southern Regional NJ 11:58.47 (Jillian Smith 4:53). See race video here.
  • Girls 4x100s - The Eleanor Roosevelt MD girls produced the top time of all the heats and sections of the girls 4x100, clocking 46.11 in cool and breezy conditions.  They topped the large school heats easily, with Rancho Verde CA (47.78) and Bethel VA (47.99) also under 48.  In the small schools, however, it was Holmwood JAM topping the field at 46.90, followed by five other Jamaican schools.  Elizabeth Seton MD was 6th in small schools at 47.33.  The Championship of America Friday will have 6 Jamaican teams and the two from Maryland
  • Girls 4x400 - With a 3:41.45 in the final section of the girls 4x400s, Jamaican leader Holmwood Tech led 4x400 qualifiers.  2-time defending champ Eleanor Roosevelt rested one of its top runners, but its other three were off top form and they not only finished 3rd in their race to Serra CA and Oxon Hill MD, but 11th overall and out of the Championship of America (final qualifiers coming)
  • Girls 4x800s - Holmwood Tech (9:08.33) and Manchester (9:11.33) produced the fastest times of the day in winning the two small schools races.  Columbia of Maplewood NJ had the top U.S. time in winning the second large schools section in 9:24.65.  The top 3 qualifiers for the Championship of America were Jamaican schools, but 9 US schools from four states followed.  It took just 9:32.75 to make the final and defending champ Eleanor Roosevelt missed at 9:36.52.
  • Girls 400H - Nikita Tracey of Edwin Allen JAM dominated with 57.44, winning by more than two seconds over Danielle Dowie of Wolmer Girls JAM.  Abingdon PA's Leah Nuggent was 3rd (1:00.05) and Passic Vo-Tech NJ's Amber Allen 4th (1:00.33) overall on their 1-2 finish in section 2, while California hopefuls Turquoise Thompson (1:00.40) and Kori Carter (1:01.67) were just 5th and 8th overall
  • Girls JT - Lakeview PA's Deloma "Fawn" Miller became just the 2nd prep over 150 feet in the javelin this year with a 150-11 throw, winning by more than eight feet over William Allen PA's Amber Troxell
  • Girls LJ - TC Williams VA's Tynita Butts repeated in the long jump, flying out to 19-11 to defeat Rancho Verde CA's Alycia Herring by four inches
  • Girls PV - Two PA jumpers, Crestwood's Mandissa Marshall and Council Rock South's Victoria Worthen, both cleared 12-01.50 in the PV, with Marshall winning on misses
  • Girls HJ - St. Elizabeth Tech JAM's Peter-Gaye Reid ruled the competition with 5-10.75, beating Pearl Bickersteth VA and Amina Smith MD (tied at 5-8).  Emily Kianka NJ and Saniel Atkinson MD also cleared 5-8 for 4th and 5th.
  • Girls TJ - St. Elizabeth Tech got another victory when Rochelle Farquharson leapt 41-01.75w, topping the 40-00w of Marlboro NJ's Adaobi Unachukwu