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Penn Relays - Saturday

Stunning relay performances by Long Beach Poly, St. Jago; PV record by Joe Berry

April 28, 2007 Franklin Field, Philadelphia PA

DyeStat on-site coverage

SteveU's Daily Wrap - Getting Loud for Long Beach Poly (more stories coming on event pages)

See Winners Table for results and pix of each event.


Running Finals
  • Long Beach Poly CA Boys 3:09.89 US#1 4x400 as Bryshon Nellum gets baton in lead from blazing teammates and with 45.6 leg holds off Yohan Blake and St. Jago JAM
  • Earlier, St. Jago, with Blake again on anchor, runs the first-ever prep sub-40 in meet history, 39.96. The first six teams are from Jamaica.
  • With 3 legs under 1:55, Kingston College JAM hammers out a 7:42.45 for 4x800 victory; top U.S. team is North Penn PA 7:50.77 in 4th.
  • Day's only individual running final goes to Lakewood NJ's Emmanuel Mayers, with his 52.81 400H.

Field Finals
  • Top performance on field is the dramatic meet record 16-03.25 PV from Hatboro-Horsham's Joe Berry
  • Jamaicans sweep the horizontal jumps: Wolmer's Boys' Robert Peddlar defends his TJ title with 49-09.75, while Tarik Batchelor of Kingston College upsets the LJ field and nearly gets the meet record with 24-11.75.
  • With top seed Devon Bond not able to compete, the high jump goes to Raymond Higgs of Tabernacle, BAH in 6-09
  • Passaic Valley NJ's George Abyad takes DT in 179-08
  • Walter Henning (St. Anthony's NY) is 10th in Olympic Development HT, with 200-07 (16 lb. hammer)

Getting Loud for Long Beach Poly

By SteveU

Bryshon Nellum and Long Beach Poly for the win. Photo by The Track Junkie
Two themes seemed to emerge Saturday from the final session of the Penn Relays, which thankfully brought a respite from Friday’s rain, though much of the meet played out under deadly-looking skies.

First, the U.S. prep relay teams are BACK. Second, when they DO give the Jamaicans a battle – win or lose – boy, does it get LOUD in there!

Well, all that kind of came together in the last prep event of the day, the boys Championship of American 4x400. U.S. teams had already won two relays in very dramatic fashion, thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt’s girls the day before, and the Long Beach Poly quartet was poised to join them. In their heat earlier in the day, Poly had won its heat, qualifying 4th overall in 3:14.07, and anchor Bryshon Nellum had shown frightening acceleration in the final 200 of a 46.3 anchor.

But there was St. Jago. And Kingston College Prep and Calabar. All had run under 3:15 in the prelims and St. Yago was the darling of the Jamaican throngs this year, with young superstar Yohan Blake. Earlier in the afternoon, in an almost all-Jamaican final, Blake and St. Jago had thrilled everyone with the first sub-40 4x100 in Penn history, a 39.96.

Poly, though, had more than a chance in the 4x4, and getting Nellum the baton within striking distance was the key. As the teams lined up for the race, the clouds had become darker than they had all day. The crowd was already whipped into a frenzy and an unPenn-like slowdown in the boom-boom-boom succession of events allowed the drama to build even further. THIS was what it’s all about at this incredible meet!

Well, once the gun went off, it was impossible to hear anything but screams and whistles for the next 3-plus minutes. And Nellum's teammates did better than get him the stick within striking distance. Joey Hughes, Isaiah Green, and Evant Orange ran so well that Nellum had a short lead when he took off. Kingston College and Calabar were also still close, but it wasn’t going to happen for them.

The next 45 seconds was just an avalanche of sound and fury as Blake chased Nellum around the track. Blake is a great, young talent, but he’s more of a dash man and it just looks like no one is going to beat Nellum this year. Blake was smart enough not to try and dash into the lead in the first 100 of the lap, but with Nellum second-200 abilities, he didn’t have much chance to pass him late, either. Both ran strong all the way to the tape, but Nellum never gave an inch.

When the clock flashed the final times, again one’s hair stood up on the back of one’s neck. 3:09.89!!!! It was more than four seconds faster than Poly’s Arcadia time and, with Nellum running 45.6 – as he did there 3 weeks ago – it was clear how much credit was deserved by the first three legs. The time is still nearly 2.5 seconds off the U.S. prep record, but take note: It was the fastest HS time in 10 long years and the first sub-3:10 since 2001.

It also gave the U.S. three wins in the six boys and girls relays of 4x800 or shorter. The Jamaicans won 11 of the 12 relays at those distances the past two years, though the two years before the U.S. was dominant.

St. Jago shows who's #1 in the 4x100. Photo by The Track Junkie
Of course, the boys 4x4 wasn’t the only thing that happened Saturday. While the 4x1 didn’t quite have that mano y mano thing going on, the 39.96 by St. Jago was arguably the best performance of the day. The Jamaicans had another outstanding relay victory, a 7:42.25 in the 4x800 by Kingston College Prep.

Did the crowd get into the field events, too? Well, it sure did in the pole vault, and that helped spur on Hatboro-Horsham PA’s Joe Berry to a pair of meet records in the pole vault, the last one a 16-03.25. The horizontal jumps were dominated by Jamaicans, with Robert Peddlar repeating in the triple jump, and Tarik Batchelor breaking through from a fourth-seeded position for a huge PR of nearly 25 feet and a dominating win.

With Devon Bond NJ out with injury, the high jump went to Raymond Higgs, while in the only throwing competition of the day, George Abyad of Passaic Valley Regional NJ won the discus.

But what most – prep fans, anyway – will take from Saturday will be the memory of what it was like during that spectacular 4x4. Yeah, it’s hard to have much perspective during only one’s second Penn, but the feelings were shared. As one veteran of more than 20 Penns said, “That’s the loudest I’ve heard it in here in a long time.”

Nuff said.

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