Contributions by Ashley Tysiac, Jim Lambert, Joe Battaglia, Cory Mull and Olivia Ekpone
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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Ryan Beegle was running out of track.
Ainsley Campbell was running out of gas.
So with the finish line fast approaching at Franklin Field and the scent of blood in the water, Beegle, a senior at Chatham High School, put his head down and dug down deep to make one final explosive charge in Friday's 4x800 Championship of America race at the 127th Penn Relays presented by Toyota.
With the rain-soaked crowd in an absolute frenzy as he closed the gap with each stride, Beegle pulled even with the staggering anchor from Kingston College in Jamaica, inches from the line, and then lunged, willing his way past Campbell before spreading his arms out in jubilation as he hit the tape.
He gave Chatham a heart-pounding and improbably-stunning upset victory, 7:47.66 to 7:47.68, in a finish for the ages.
Chatham is the first U.S. team to win the 4x800 at the Penn Relays since Pleasantville (NJ) finished first in 2013, ending Jamaica's seven-year winning streak. Chatham is also the first boys team ever from Morris County to win a C of A race at Penn. The Roxbury girls, the DMR champs in 2008, are the only other Morris County team to win.
Beegle's epic finish completed a red-hot 1:52.47 anchor carry and it touched off a wild celebration as he ran into the arms of teammates Charles Henne, Adam Petitjean and Leo Valenzuela, as the quartet hugged and danced in the rain drops.
"I don't believe this,'' Beegle screamed out during the euphoric celebration. "I wasn't sure I could get him, but I saw that he (Campbell-who split 1:55.39) was tying up and I just gave it all I had to try to catch him. This is the Penn Relays. You have to leave everything you have out there and somehow, someway, we pulled it out.'''
Beegle admitted that when he got the baton in fourth-place and 2.90 seconds behind the front-running Campbell, he wasn't really sure he could make up the deficit.
"Honestly, there was a time that I was thinking that I might not be able to catch him, and that I might be running for the watches (top American),'' Beegle said. "But little-by-little I got a little closer and when I came around the final turn I felt that maybe there was a chance, but I was hurting a bit, too, so I had to just push past the pain for teammates.''
Petitjean, who ran a 1:59.41 second leg, was in utter disbelief.
"Oh my God,'' said Petijean. "We did it! This is 10 years in the making. No one thought we could do this, but we never stopped believing.''
Henne, who spit 1:58.31 on the opening carry, let out a primal roar.
"Beegle! Beegle! You did it. I can't believe it,'' he said.
Valenzuela, who split a 1:57.48 third leg to move Chatham from fifth to fourth, was overcome with emotion.
"We did it,'' he said. "We did something we will never forget, and something that we may have been the only ones who thought was possible."
As Petitjean, Henne, Beegle and Valenzuela made their way to the podium to get their awards, they all pointed to their wrists.
"It's time,'' they said. "It's time to get the watches and that wheel!''
Chatham celebrates its 4x800m Championship of America victory after receiving the Penn Relays wheel.
Photo Credit: Ryan Comstock
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High School Girls 4x800: Three New Jersey teams, led by Union Catholic and Irene Riggs-led Morgantown (WV), will headline the challengers to two-time reigning champion Edwin Allen of Jamaica charging into the 12-team girls Championship of America final on Saturday.
Union Catholic got things rolling by running a very comfortable 9:11.26 to win its qualifying heat by a huge margin. After finishing fifth in 2018, second in 2019 and third last year, the Scotch Plains squad will head into the C of A race with its best shot to win a first wheel in the history of its girls program.
The lineup consisted of Maameyaa Nyinah (2:17.39), Jimmiea King (2:19.68), Kaleigh Gunsiorowski (2:13.56), and Peyton Hollis (2:20.64). King, a freshman, is the only member of the squad that didn't run here last year.
"We came here this year to win the wheel and we feel good about our chances tomorrow,'' said Gunsiorowski. "I know we can all run faster, and we will be ready for the challenge.''
Rumson qualified for the Championship of America for the first time in school history, riding a 2:16.84 leadoff leg by Izzy Rodriguez and a third-leg split of 2:18.13 by Clemmie Lilley to a third-place finish in its heat in 9:22.29.
"This is something we've been thinking about and working toward for a long time, so it means a lot to us to advance,'' said Lilley. "We just missed our school record by .2, so that's something that we hope to break tomorrow."
Cherokee, which ran 9:23.45 to place third in its heat, has been waiting for this day since Kelsey Niglio got tripped up on the first lap in the 4x800 C of A race last year. Niglio, who led off on Friday in 2:17.93, was joined by Kerry O'Day (2:18.31), Madeline Meder (2:26.62), and her sister Megan Niglio (2:20.60).
"I've had a few flashbacks about that, but it was good to back out on this track and get a clean slate and get back to the final,'' the elder Niglio said.
The last New Jersey team to win was Columbia, which won its second straight title in 2014.
High School Girls 4x100: Hydel did not disappoint its pro-Jamaica faithful, as Alana Reid, Oneika McAnnuff, Shemonique Hazle and Alliah Baker showed out en route to winning its heat of the 4x100 in 44.96, the fastest qualifying time for Saturday's Championship of America by a wide margin.
For comparison, Bullis was the top American team in the preliminary heats and had the second-fastest time overall at 46.05. Edwin Allen of Jamaica had the third fastest time of the day at 46.64 and will enter the C o A as the seven-time defending champion.
But it will be an uphill battle for everyone chasing Hydel, which will be seeking revenge for its defeat to Edwin Allen last year while also eyeing the meet record of 43.18 Edwin Allen set in that race.
That is large part due to Reid, who won the 2022 World U20 100m bronze medal and is in the form of her life. She made history at Champs last month by becoming the first female athlete to run the 100m in under 11 seconds, winning the girls Class One final in a national junior record of 10.92 seconds, shattering Veronica Campbell-Brown's meet record of 11.12 set in 2001.
St. Jago (46.80) and Wolmer's Girls (47.35) will join their Jamaican counterparts Hydel and Edwin Allen in the CoA. McDonough School of Maryland, Heritage and South County from Virginia and St. Augustine's of the Bahamas will round out the field.
High School Girls Prep Independent 4x100: The Loomis Chaffee (CT) quartet of Chelsea Ndzana-Zogo, Gabby Wood, Izzy Balise, Stella Purdy sped to victory in 50.66. Deerfield Academy (MA) finished second in 51.20 and Sacred Heart Greenwich (CT) placed third in 52.40
High School Boys Northeast 4x100: Allan Hilton Clarke, Kaj Sanders, Andrew Boakye, and Logan Casey executed near flawless stick work as Bergen Catholic (NJ) blitzed the field to win in 42.37. BC, which ran a NJ No. 1 41.78 earlier this month, was unhappy with its 42.86 performance in Thursday's 4x100 qualifying heats and was determined to make ammends.
"We knew we were capable of running much faster today,'' Hilton Clarke said. "We didn't have great baton passing yesterday, so we worked on that and cleaned everything up today and we showed everyone what we could do."
Casey said that there's no better feeling than crossing the first at Franklin Field.
"To come here and win a big race on this big stage is just an amazing feeling,'' he said. "When I got the baton in the lead and the crowd started going crazy, that just got me so hyped up."
High School Boys National 4x100: Sparked by Caiden Newsome on the final leg, Calvert Hall (MD) held off challenges from Oakland Mills (MD) and Western Branch (VA) for a narrow victory in the race featuring the top nine teams outside of the Northeast which did not qualify for the Championship of America. Calvert Hall finished in 42.27, with Oakland Mills a step behind in 42.43 and Western Branch crossed in 42.72.
High School Boys International 4x100: Damain Darlington anchored Excelsior of Jamaica to a tight victory over three challengers in 41.04, breaking the event record of 41.06 set by Wolmer's Boys in 2018. The finish of this race, which featured the nine fastest international teams that did not qualify for the Championship of America, was one of the most thrilling of the day. Calabar (41.12) and Herbert Morrison (41.87) of Jamaica and Queen's Royal College (41.94) of Trinidad and Tobago all ran bunched down the final straight.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"This is the Penn Relays. You have to leave everything you have out there and somehow, someway, we pulled it out.'''
- Ryan Beegle, Chatham HS (NJ)
High School Boys COA 4x100: Jamaica College's foursome of Daniel Beckford, Jaiden Reid, Jaiden Reid, and Dontae Watson stormed to a historic victory in 40.97. The victory, Jamaica College's first since 2014, gives it nine titles in the event overall, tying it with Mercersburg Academy (PA) and Brooklyn Boys (NY) for the most in Penn Relays history. St. Elizabeth Tech (JAM) anchor Orlando Clint held off a furious charge by Archbishop Carroll's Nyckoles Harbor to finish second in 41.19 by just three-thousandths of a second.
High School Boys Philadelphia Area 4x400: Tyler Abraham split 48.67 on the anchor to help lead Abington (PA) to a comfortable victory in 3:19.45. Pennsauken (NJ) moved from sixth to second in 3:21.01 thanks to splits of 48.69 by third leg Premier Wynn and 48.92 by anchor Bryce Tucker. Central Bucks West (PA) finished third in 3:23.78.
High School Boys COA 4x400: Emmanuel Rwotomiya split 48.37 on the anchor leg to rally Kingston College of Jamaica to a repeat victory in 3:15.62. Kingston College has now won a record 11 Championship of America 4x400s. But the squad got all it could handle and then some from Seton Hall Prep (NJ). The West Orange school, which was seeking its first Penn Relays wheel since 1927, opened up a second and a half lead behind a 48.987 split from third leg Nicholas Devita. Devita handed off to anchor Brandon Williams, who was quickly caught by Rwotomiya and Calabar fourth leg Kevin Brooks. But Williams did not fold, and late down the homestretch put in a second surge that pulled him right onto Rwotomiya's shoulder but he ran out of track. Williams crossed in 3:16.06 for the Prep, earning the squad a coveted Penn Relays watch as the top American finisher. Calabar was third in 3:16.54.
High School Girls COA DMR: Genevieve Duchaussee captured a lead on the second leg and Saratoga Springs (NY) never looked back in cruising to its second straight victory in 11:43.42. Saratoga Springs has now won three of the last four titles and four overall, putting it second on the all-time wins list behind the six titles won by Vere Tech of Jamaica. IMG Academy (FL) leadoff leg Layla Haynes opened a two-tenths of a second lead on Saratoga's McKinley Wheeler, but Duchaussee took the lead with a 58.04 400m split that her teammates would not relinquish. Sheridan Wheeler followed with a 2:15.22 800m leg and Emily Bush anchored in 4:57.18, both the fastest legs of the competition. West Springfield (VA) finished second in 12:07.48 while Haverford (PA) came in third in 12:08.53.
High School Girls Mile: A series of moves netted Angelina Napoleon, the country's top 2K steepler, a win in 4:49.36. The Allegany-Limestone senior dropped a final lap of 67-seconds to out kick Mount Lebanon's Logan St. John Kletter, who was second in 4:50.77.
High School Girls 3K: Cornwall's Karrie Baloga, the reigning Champs Sports Nationals champion, led from start to finish en route to a finishing time of 9:20.75, which was an 11-second improvement from her finish in this same race last year. Jane Hedengren, a sophomore from Timpview (UT), went from 22th in the first 200 meters to second by race's end in 9:24.56. Ciara O'Shea was third in 9:26.90.
High School Boys COA DMR: Christ School nearly captured a new meet record, claiming a new U.S. No. 1 time of 9:58.15 behind the efforts of Dawson Reeves, Brendan Regan, Kahzi Sealey and Rocky Hansen. CBA was second in 10:13.68 while Delbarton School was third in 10:15.33.
High School Boys Mile: Hatboro-Horsham's Brian DiCola battled his way to a victory in 4:11.23, needing one final kick in the final 100 meters to leg past Menlo School's Justin Pretre, who was second in 4:12.98. Ringgold was third in 4:15.08.
High School Boys 3K: Danville's Rory Lieberman surged with 500 meters left and managed to out-pace a group of five runners in the final 30 seconds, winning in 8:34.16. Six runners finished within two seconds of Lieberman, including runner-up Nate Boutin in 8:35.31 and Arlington's Ethan Green in 8:35.39.
STAT OF THE DAY
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The number of lead changes during the Penn Relays girls mile before Angelina Napoleon earned the win down the final stretch in 4:49.36
SATURDAY FAST FACTS
Saturday will mark the first time in 126 years that a high school girls final will run on the last day of The Penn Relays.
High School Girls Shot Put: Brittanie Johnson of Camperdown used a fourth-round throw of 14.04m/46-0.75 to win the girls shot put title and her second medal of the meet. Johnson is just the fourth Jamaican athlete to ever win the event. Jessica Oji of Livingston (NJ) finished as top American with a second-round mark of 13.86m/45-5.75. Rochelle Solomon of Edwin Allen (JAM) was third at 13.57m/44-6.25.
High School Girls Triple Jump: Jade-Ann Dawkins of St. Jago jumped 13.02m/42-8.75 in the second and third rounds to score Jamaica's fifth victory in the last seven years in the event. Sophia Curtis of Ocean City (NJ) surged to top American status on her final attempt, clearing 12.45m/40-10.25. Llyric Driscoll of Western Branch (VA) placed third at 12.38m/40-7.5.
Samantha Strydesky of Howell clears the bar at 5-7 to win the girls high jump.
Photo Credit: Derrick Dingle
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High School Girls High Jump: Samantha Strydesky of Howell (NJ) was the only competitor to clear the bar at 1.70m/5-7 on her first attempt, which was good enough to capture the title on a count back. Strydesky is the first New Jersey girl to win the title since Sandi Everett of Hillsborough in 1991. Runner-up Shanniqua Williams of Wolmer's Girls (JAM) and third-place finisher Deijanae Bruce of Edwin Allen (JAM) both cleared 1.70m/5-7, but on their second and third jumps respectively.
High School Girls Pole Vault: Veronica Vacca of Mount St. Joseph (PA) was the lone competitor to clear 3.94m/12-11, which was good enough to repeat as champion. She joined Abigail Schaffer of Easton Area (PA) to capture back-to-back titles in the event. Vacca took three jumps at 4.04m/13-3 but fouled all of them. Kirstin Hoffman of Kennett finished second at 3.84m/12-7.25 and Annika Flanigan of Liberty took third at 3.74m/12-3.25 to complete the all-Pennsylvania podium.
High School Girls Javelin: Julia Magliaro of Trinity School uncorked a monster throw of 50.18m/164-7 in the fifth round to break her own New York state record by 11 feet and become the first athlete from the Empire State to win the title. Belle Bosch of Chestnut Ridge (PA) took the runner-up spot with her final throw of 45.91m/150-7. Leah Howard of Millville (NJ) opened with a throw of 45.30m/148-7 and led through four rounds before settling for third.
INTERVIEW OF THE DAY
- Karrie Baloga, after winning the 3K on Friday
For more, check our entire Penn Relays content archive:
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- Previewing the COA 4x100 and 4x400 at The Penn Relays
- Previewing the COA 4x800 and DMR at The Penn Relays
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- The Girls 3K At The Penn Relays Is Star-Studded
- Alana Reid, Bouwahjgie Nkrumie Make History As Jamaica Preps
- Here Are Your Penn Relays HS Individual Fields
- Throwback Thursday: Gorriaran Sets 600m HS Record At Penn
- Before He Was An Olympic Champion: Rai Benjamin At Penn
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