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Penn Relays Preview - Ed Grant

New Jersey girls strong in DMR, 3000m

April 26-28, 2007 Franklin Field, Philadelphia PA

by Ed Grant

And now it’s on to Franklin Field with New Jersey athletes counting on at least two
victories in major high school events from its girls on opening day and perhaps one or two more
when the boys arrive on Friday.

The two on Thursday should come in almost back-to-back fashion from Southern
Ocean Regional in the distance medley and from Ashley Higginson, seeking a repeat victory in
the individual 3,000-meter run. Only the mile separates these two and the Jersey entry in that one
will be muted with its top runners all involved in the DMR, two of them for Southern Ocean:
Danielle Tauro and sophomore Jilllian Smith.

Southern Ocean’s chances went from probable to almost certainty when Eleanor
Roosevelt of Maryland, as expected, chose to make its bid in the 3200-meter relay, the trials of
which open the relay action on Thursday. The Maryland school scored a big upset over Southern
at the Nike Invitational indoors, chiefly due to a major edge in the 400 and 800 legs. Now the
major competition may come from an in-state rival Ramapo, whose well-balanced team went
under 12:00 at Arcadia three weeks ago.

Smith is expected to give Southern a big lead on the opening 1200 leg, as she did
at Landover, and the question then is how much Ramapo (and others) may gain in the middle
legs. Southern is expected to use freshman Chelsea Cox on the 800 and senior Kate Bergin on
the 400. At Landover, the Bergin sisters handled this assignment.

Higginson seems to have no real opposition in the 3K with the most promising
contenders involved in the DMR. Ashley has already broken the state 5K record this spring with
a race in which she averaged 3:20 for each 1K along the way. If she can reduce that to 3:10, she
will shatter the state mark of 9:33.2 set by Meg Waldron of Bernards in an open race at the
Rutgers relays in 1981. The all-high school race mark was set at Penn by Jodie Bilotta of
Northern HunterdoN AT 9:37.1 IN 1987.

Colts Neck had plans for a DMR double this year, but injuries have kept its
prospective 1200 leg, soph Brianna Jackucewicz on the sidelines this spring and even a 1-3 finish
at the Blue Devils Relays last weekend in Westfield, with Higginson resting at home, did not
shake the decision to let Ashley go individually.

Colts Neck boys will vie in DMR

The Cougars will make a strong bid for the boys' title, chiefly based on Craig
Forys’ presence on the anchor leg. They got a 3:11+ 1200 out of Brandon Krewer in the Blue
Devil meet, but the 400 and 800 performances there were not promising. Forys may have as
much as a 100M deficit or more facing him as he did indoors when he ran his third sub-4:06
anchor in two years at the New York Armory.

Old Bridge, the New Jersey leader indoors, ran a DMR at Westfield in 10:34.5,
but this was with each of its runners taking a step down in distance. Usual anchor Matt
Ciambriello led off with a 3:10+ 1200, 800 man Nick Carbone a 50+ 400 and leadoff man James
Hauser a 1:56+ 800. The usual 400 runner, Allan Lunkenheimer, who should run around 47 at
Penn, confined himself to a pair of 200 legs there, one clocked in 21.1 with a flying start.

St. Benedict’s, the third Jersey sub-10:20 team indoors entered at Penn, took the
weekend off. The Gray Bees’ hopes center on keeping close enough for junior Brandon Jarrett to
catch the leaders on the anchor leg. They key here is the 1200 leg, for the Newark school has a
crack 400 man in junior Brian Bucknor and will get close to 2:00 from its 800 runner. Obviously,
this is a team with plans for 2008.

Andrew Hanko has hopes in the 3000

With Forys and Jarrett in the DMR and Gill-St. Bernard’s soph Doug Smith still
serving his 30-day penalty for transferring last fall, the state’s entry in the individual distance
races will be light with Andrew Hanko of Trinity Christian its main hope in the 3K against
defender Matt Centrowitz Jr. Hanko has had a couple of 1600 wins this spring in chilly weather,
but was also resting last weekend.

New Jersey hopes of a boys’ 400R finalist took a boost at the Woodbury Relays
last Saturday when Camden, which had been lying low in earlier meets, exploded with a 42.05
victory in Gr. III over Delsea, which itself had run 42.3 a week earlier in the chill at Bridgeton.
Teaneck, which has run 42.6 this spring in cold weather, blew the stick in the Bergen County
Relays, but ran a record 1:27.0 in the 400. A fourth New Jersey threat, Irvington, is still waiting
the return of its top runner, Leonardo Wright and once again may see its Penn hopes doomed.

In the girls’ 400, East Orange is the only state team with a chance at one of the
finals, probably the large school race. The Campus team had its third consecutive sprint triple last
Saturday at Morris Hills and, in the 70ish weather turned in a meet record 47.94 in the 400R and
a 1:41.94 in the 800R.

Monmouth and Seton Hall are the boys’ 1600R teams with the best chance to
make the finals, but each may be one runner short. Monmouth had a 3:17.8 at the Holmdel
Relays last Saturday, with Charles and Chris Cox running 47.7 and 48.6, respectively. A third
runner also got under 50.0. With the mass start at Penn, Chris Vox is likely to leadoff to provide
a clear channel all the way.

Seton Hall had a 48.2 from Pat Blackie and a 48.7 from soph Clayton Parros to
run a record 3:20.09 at the Morris Hills Relays. Parros was the missing figure indoors, preferring
to sit the bench with the JV basketball team. Again, there will probably be a lineup switch at
Penn with Blackie getting the leadoff assignment. The Leroy Alexander will handle the second
or third leg and the other runner is still to be decided.

Rahway is not one of the Jersey favorites to qualify at Penn, but there is an aura
of mystery about a new runner who will join the team that ran second at the Blue Devil Relays in
3:24.1. All Paul Jones-Burden, anchorman of that club, would say is that the newcomer bears a
famous name in Union County annals, Since Renaldo Nehemiah lives out-of-state and Milt
Campbell is into the grandfather stage, this would leave 1968 Olympic 400M bronze (and relay
gold) medalist Ron Freeman.

Metuchen, a Group I school, which had a 3:12.41 team back in 1997, may be
heading that way again in 2008. With three juniors in the lineup, the Bulldogs defeated Rahway
at Westfield in 3:22.1 (and won the 3200R with four different boys in 8:07.8). The anchor of the
1600 team is one of the nation’s most highly touted running backs, Dejuan Miller, already
besieged by 15 or so top Div. I teams.

Pope John, which set a record for the girls’ 3200R indoors, continued concentrate
on other events with a 1:47.6/12:26.5 double in the 800 sprint medley and the DMR at the
Raider Relays. The other top entries in this event also aimed elsewhere, Voorhees running a
4:11.7 sprint medley at the Raider Relays with Hillsboro third in 4:13.2.

It was the same with the boys. Jackson split its forces and went 1-2 in the distance
medley at Morris Hills, both under 10:40. Pleasantville did run an all-out 8:01.42 at Woodbury,
but had a 3:20.72 in the 1600R and 3:33.24 in the SMR, a shade better than Seton Hall at Morris
Hills or Old Bridge with its 3:34.5 at Westfield. Indian Hills’ boys, who ran under 8:00 at
Arcadia, simply took the day off.

The state’s 1-2 punch in the opening 400MH race on Thursday, defending
national champion Leslie Njoku of McNair Academic and Villanova-bound Kristen Mahon of
Notre Dame, both had notable warmups last Saturday. Njoku won the individual race at the New
York Relays in 1:02.21 and Mahon had a 1:01.6 in the Mercer County Relays at Steinert. The
boys’ top entries in the event, all-group defender Manny Mayers of Lakewood and indoor 55MH
champ Tykeen Fulton of Trenton, have yet to show their proper form this spring.

With Nike indoor winner Devon Bond of Trenton still a question mark in the
boys’ high jump, prospects for the boys’ and girls’ field events are not too sanguine. John Clark
of Pennsville had a 174-5 in the discus throw at Woodbury, Stephanie McIntyre of South
Brunswick hit 39-8 in the triple jump at the Raider Relays and Aaron King of Morris Hills hit 47-
5 in the boys’ triple jump at Morris Hills. But King’s mark was topped by a newcomer, junior
Chris Phipps of Lodi, at the Bergen Relays; he will, however, have to wait till next year for his
Penn appearance sine this came past the deadline for approval this time.

The Bergen meet, named for legendary Tenafly and Northern Valley (Demarest)
coach Jack Yockers---who had a team win the championship 1600R at Penn in the school’s initial
year, saw Don Bosco confirm its position as the state’s top all-around team with a 108-69 1/2 win
over Ridgewood in the A Division. Another strong entry in the 3200R at Penn, the Ironmen
followed the general pattern of the day in that event with a mixed lineup of regulars and subs
running 8:20.2, while going big in the 1600R in 3:21.8 the 800 in 1:28.4 behind Teaneck.

The Ridgewood girls had a big win over Immaculate Heart Academy and River
Dell doubled the girls and

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