Penn Relays - Saturday Stories
Stories by Steve Mazzone from Saturday's events at the Penn Relays.
- Boys DMR - Chaminade thirsty for more after COA 4x800
- Boys Jumps - Jones, Taylor strike gold in the sand
- Boys PV - Crosswinds no match for Stacy
- Boys HJ - Energy at Penn gets Stone over the bar
- Boys 400H - Jetsetter Benjamin strikes gold at Penn
Chaminade, N.Y., proved its 4x800-meter relay squad was the best in the country last month by winning the indoor title at the New Balance Nationals.
As of now, that status remains the same.
The quartet of Thomas Slattery, Andrew Dorritie, Gunnar Nolan and Sean Kelly combined for a personal-best time of 7 minutes, 39.44 seconds on Saturday at the Penn Relays Carnival, a runner-up clocking that earned the New York school a nation No. 1 and the coveted wagon wheel in the Championship of America event.
Calabar of Jamaica won the race at 7:37.36, the sixth fastest time in the meet’s history. A day earlier, Calabar edged Chaminade in the trials with both teams producing the two fastest times entering the finals.
“We were definitely excited coming into this race,” said anchor leg Sean Kelly. “We did what we wanted to do at the trials. Unfortunately, Calabar beat us at the trials and the finals. I think it’s all a learning experience. It’s good to know we are the best American team but we know there are teams out there that are much faster than you at your own age. It definitely motivates you to run faster. Hopefully we can bring that motivation to the nationals in outdoor and run a fast time there as well.”
The race was tight at the beginning with Jamaica’s Kingston College, Blacksburg, Va., Chaminade and front-runner Calabar battling it out during the first leg. Chaminade found itself in third, a little more than a second behind the eventual winners.
“At first, I was a little worried because our first leg, Tom Slattery, got a little tripped up at the beginning and he was in the way back,” said Kelly, about his senior teammate, who regained his composure and ran a respectable split of 1:56.84. “When I saw that, it kind of reminded me about the (outdoor) nationals last year when one of our legs fell and we ran like an 8:06 after running a 7:40 the week before.”
Despite a solid 1:55.54 leg from Dorritie, Chaminade dropped to around seventh midway into the race. With a spectacular split of 1:54.83 from Nolan, a three-second PB, the N.Y., foursome moved back into contention.
“He killed it!” said Dorrittie, about Nolan. “He did a phenomenal job. He has a lot to be proud of. I just did everything I could. My coach told me that on that last turn it’s all going to be adrenaline. I heard all forty, fifty thousand people. It definitely helped me that last straightaway.”
Kelly did his part to try and close a three-second gap, but just ran out of real estate in the closing stages of the race. Kingston College finished third at 7:42.51 and South Brunswick, N.J., was fourth with a time of 7:43.56.
“(Nolan) did a great job on his part. He set me up perfectly,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough in the tank. Calabar is a talented team so hopefully we’ll get to race them another time and have a rematch.”
Penn Relays Results: HS Boys 4x800
Based on his experience in the triple jump from last year, Darrel Jones made sure his mindset before the Penn Relays was simple.
“Last year kind of caught me off guard,” said the senior from Monroe-Woodbury, Pa., who placed 11th in 2013. “This year I went in with the experience that it’s a big meet and you have to keep it small. Keep my own zone. Zone myself out. Treat it like a normal meet.”
Relaxed and confident, Jones earned a big milestone during Saturday’s competition, breaking the 50-foot barrier for the first time in his career with a second-place distance of 50 feet, 2.5 inches, a placement that earned him the U.S. title.
“I wanted to go 50 (feet),” he said. “I was so excited when I got it. I thought I fouled it so it was even better. I am very excited.”
Clayton Brown of Jamaica College took the top prize with a leap of 50.4.5. For Jones, , the New York state champion, his effort was more than a foot further than his previous best of 49-1, set at the New Balance Nationals last month where he finished fourth.
In the long jump, Dashawn Taylor of Longwood, N.Y., copped gold with a near PB of 23-6.25. Jamaica’s Michane Ricketts of Edwin Allen was second with a distance of 23-5.5.
Living in an ocean-side state like Delaware, Caraval Academy pole-vaulter Brandon Stacy is used to participating in meets with windy conditions.
It appears that may been to his advantage on Saturday at the Penn Relays Carnival.
Overcoming an ever-changing wind pattern, Stacy surprised the field (as well as himself) by winning the individual title with a leap of 14 feet, 9 inches. Going into the competition, he was ranked No. 18.
“Honestly I wasn’t even expecting this,” he said. “There were a few jumpers that have done 16 feet. This was the last thing on my mind. I was hoping to have some fun, and I just won.”
Stacy earned the gold watch as the top American by taking the crown based on fewer misses as the next five finishers all matched his height. He came three inches from his PB of 15 feet, not a bad feat considering the elements.
“One time you had a headwind and another time a side wind,” he said. “It’s rough, but you just have to adjust to it. You just got to go and run. You can’t let the wind affect you. Where I live, I pole vault in a very windy place. Honestly, you just have to be tough and got to jump through it.”
Since finishing 17th overall (14-10.25) at the New Balance Nationals last month, Stacy’s win at Penn was his seventh straight to start the outdoor campaign.
Right now, he’s savoring his latest triumph.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s just amazing what I did today. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Penn Relays Results: HS Boys PV
When he entered Franklin Stadium on Saturday for the Penn Relays Carnival, high-jumper Chris Stone had just one objective.
“My goal coming in here was to get a watch and be the first American,” said the junior from Springfield Township, Pa. “I came in with that attitude and I came in knowing that I can do it.”
Consider it done.
With a boisterous Jamaican fan base situated in the stands behind the high jump area, countryman Christoffe Bryan of Wolmer gave them plenty to cheer about by winning the crown with a height of 6 feet, 11.5 inches. But Stone was able to achieve what he set out to do by taking the runner-up position at 6-7.75 to take the top U.S. spot and the hardware that traditionally goes with it.
“There’s a ton of Jamaicans here and every time they announced a Jamaican team the crowd went wild, especially on that final turn for most of the relays,” he said. “I just kind of used that energy, even if it’s not for the high jump, to kind of help me get over the bar.”
The versatile Stone, an indoor state champion in the high jump and the pole vault, where he owns a best of 15-0, has not been concentrating all his efforts in the vertical leap.
“This is my third high jump this season,” he said. “I have been working on a ton of events because I think I am going to try the decathlon in the summer. It’s not like I have been doing the high jump every week. I have been doing the drills like I always do and then to come out and compete every weekend and get (6-7.75) and compete every week it feels good.”
Jamaica’s Jabari Fairclough of Calabar was third, also at 6-7.75 and Justin Sicari of Monsignor Farrell, N.Y. was fourth, clearing 6-6.75.
Penn Relays Results: HS Boys HJ
April has been a busy month for Raj Benjamin.
Two weeks ago, the junior from Mount Vernon, N.Y., competed across the country at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in southern California where he finished among the top five in the 200-meter dash and the 300m hurdles. Then, on April 17 he was back in his home state at the New York Relays where he was the first across the line in the 400m hurdles.
Benjamin continued his string of elite meets on Saturday at the Penn Relays Carnival. The Mount Vernon standout fell short in defeating a pair of talented Jamaicans in the 400 hurdles, but his season-best time of 52.72 did secure him third place and a gold watch as the top U.S. finisher.
Wolmer’s Boys’ Jaheel Hyde, a Jamaican national record-holder with a sub 50-second best, won the race at 51.13. Taking second was compatriot Marvin Williams of St. Elizabeth Tech in 51.49.
“My coach basically told me today, back off a little, just get the rhythm, get the pace,” said Benjamin, a runner-up in the 400m at the New Balance Indoor Nationals and a competitor at the World Youth Games last summer. “I know the other two guys. I competed against them before (at World Youths). It wasn’t a surprise to me. Basically I wanted to go out and run what I was capable off. Coming back from California, I wasn’t able to practice for a few days. Going out to New York Relays, I was not in tip-top shape. Getting back into shape is coming.”
Benjamin had a quick start out of the blocks and was neck-and-neck with the Jamaican hurdlers on the back straightaway. But coming down the final stretch, Hyde and Williams demonstrated their strength, breaking way to snare the top two placements.
“Running, I had good form over the hurdles, but maybe my pace was too fast,” Benjamin said. “My coach was telling me to slow down a little bit. But I still came out as a U.S. number one. It was a good race."
Penn Relays Results: HS Boys 400H