Manchester – winner of one Penn Relays title – and Holmwood Tech, winner of 13, lead another strong group of Jamaican girls’ teams at this year’s Relays.
Manchester’s sole victory came in the 1994 4×100 Championship of America. This year Manchester has the top time for the season in that event, the 45.52 it ran at Gibson Relays. They also have one of the top times in the 4×4 (3:38.83) and 4×8 (9:08.10) and are led by one of the stars of this year’s Jamaican Champs, Natoya Goule. Goule won the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 at Champs. She has PRs of 54.65, 2:04.29, 4:27.48 and 9:56.79.
Holmwood Tech was Champs winner of the 4×4 (3:37.52) and has run 45.66 in the 4×1 and 9:10.99 in the 4×8. Their 400 runners include Petra Fanty (54.61) and Chris-Ann Gordon (53.62). In the 800 they have Lovan Palmer (2:13), Petrene Plummer (2:11) and Gordon (2:12).
From the American side, the primary challenges should come from two California teams, Serra and Long Beach Poly, and one from New York, Benjamin Cardozo. Cardozo had the nation’s fastest indoor 4×4 this winter, 3:44.97, and 4×200, 1:38.60. Poly won the Arcadia 4×1 in 45.92, while Serra ran 46.59. In this weekend’s Mt. SAC meet, Poly beat Serra in the 4×4 with the year’s fastest time nationally, 3:43.33-3:45.89.
Poly also may pose the biggest challenge to the Jamaican schools in the 4×8. They won Arcadia in 9:07.55, using a “B” squad, and have four sub-2:15 halfmilers at their disposal – Dynasty Gammage, Neausha Logan, Arielle Stevenson and Tia Leake.
Most of the leading Eastern girls’ 4×8 teams are concentrating on the DMR. Those are Saratoga Springs (9:10), Bronxville (9:12) and Shenendehowa (9:10), while the year’s list leader, Fayetteville-Mamlius (9:02.80), is not entered in the meet. The next-fastest team from the East is St. John Villa Academy, of Staten Island, N.Y. (9:12.68), although Garden City (Long Island, N.Y.) also has an excellent lineup, including Emma Gallagher, Michelle Rotondo and Emily Menges.
With that Big 3 in the DMR – Saratoga, winner of the Nike Indoor at 11:38.60; Shenendehowa (11:45.92), and Bronxville (12:10.34) – that race will produce a showdown with Blacksburg (Va.). Blacksburg, which ran 12:02.77 indoors, has an impressive lineup of the Stevens sisters, Kathleen (4:50 miler) and Joanna (4:49), and 2:13 halfmiler Hannah Brown. ‘Toga, which won the girls DMR in 2004, is led by Amanda Burroughs and Brianne Bellon. The meet record is 11:40.51 by Vere Tech 18 years ago, the national record 11:31.81 by Warwick Valley in 2008.
In the 4×1, Jamaica is also ably represented by Herbert Morrison, which ran 45.68 to win Class 2 Champs and 46.09 for 2nd place in Class 1, behind Edwin Allen (45.86). Vere Tech, although it has three members back from last year’s winning Relays team, has run just 46.82 this year.
Holmwood Tech, which was 3rd a year ago, won the Relays 4×1 in 2001 and 2006. This year they also won the Champs Class 3 title – mostly 14- and 15-year-olds – in 45.97. Other Jamaican entrants this year include St. Jago (45.9/3:48.25), The Queen’s School (46.27), Vere Tech (3:38.21) and Camperdown (46.75).
LB Poly is led in the sprint relays by juniors Akawkaw Ndipagbor (400 best of 53.12) and Azia Walker (54.74 in 2009 in Ohio). Fellow Californians Serra, of Gardena, are led by Chimere Ezumah, who has run 54.08 as a freshman.
The New Yorkers at Cardozo (Queens) are led by quartermilers Chamique Francis (53.42) and Ahtyana Johnson (54.17) and hurdler/sprinter Lateisha Philson (14.08 100H). (Another student at the school, Claudia Francis, a 2:05 halfmiler, does not run for the team.) Another New York City team, Medgar Evers of Brooklyn, ran 1:40.41 in the 4×2 and 3:46.44 this winter indoors. No New York school has ever won the girls’ 4×1 or 4×4 at the Relays.
Other domestic teams in the short relays include Western Branch of Virginia (46.92), Garden City in the 4×4 (3:50.70), Bishop Hartley of Ohio (1:40.34/3:51.66), Bethel of Virginia (3:52.15), Columbia/Maplewood of New Jersey (3:51.37) and West Catholic of Philadelphia (3:48.75).
In the 4×8, the leading time this spring has been recorded by Edwin Allen – winner of the race last year at 8:44.06 – with 8:55.66. EA has Markena Eubanks (2:13), Sanikee Gardner (2:14), Desreen Montaque (2:15) and Ristananna Tracey (2:09). St. Jago has run a modest 9:26 but has Yanique Malcolm (2:13), Shevel McDonald (2:13) and Jhevere Hall (2:14).
Other domestic teams in the event include Cary, N.C. (9:22), Conestoga, Pa. (9:22) and Hunterdon Central, N.J. (9:15).