PHILADELPHIA >> In past years, Penn Wood coach Len Jordan preferred to concentrate on the 4 x 400 over the 4 x 800 because he did not have enough athletes to compete in both events.
The Patriots would run well in the qualifying round of the 4 x 800, but not as well in the final the next day. He doesn’t have that problem this year, as Terri Turner, Elicia Moore, Kyra Carroll and Janae Pitt proved Friday at the 132nd Penn Relays Carnival at Franklin Field.
Turner, Moore, Carroll and Pitt shaved more than four seconds off their time from Thursday’s qualifier to finish fifth overall in the girls 4 x 800 Championship of America race.
The Patriots ran 9:01.40, which was the third-fastest time by an American team in the final. That effort was topped only by Ridge High out of Basking Ridge, N.J. (8:55.82) and North Penn (8:55.88) on the American side. Holmwood Tech (8:48.15) and Edwin Allen (8:55.41) of Jamaica were the top two finishers.
Strath Haven (Maddie Forbes, Grace Forbes, Isabel Cardi and Grace Haase) finished ninth in 9:17.05.
The Patriots turned in that impressive time even though Moore, Carroll and Pitt ran out of gas in the final 100 meters or so of their respective legs.
“That’s from running so many races in a short amount of time,” Jordan said. “They’ll get stronger as the season goes on.”
The championship race was the third in 24 hours for the quartet. After qualifying for the Championship of America final by winning its heat in the small schools race Thursday morning, Turner, Moore, Carroll and Pitt came back in the afternoon to win the Suburban A 4 x 400 to earn a spot in Saturday’s Tri-State final.
With the temperature hovering around 80 degrees and the humidity in the 60-percent range, the weather took its toll in the latter portions of the last three legs.
“I tried to push it at the 200-meter mark, but I just didn’t have it,” Moore said.
“I got up to second, but I just couldn’t get any closer,” Carroll added.
“I wanted to go under 2:13, but that first lap just seemed to be so fast,” Pitt said. “It felt like we were running at a 56-second pace.”
The race served as a lesson for the Patriots as they head into the Delco Championships this weekend and the District 1 and PIAA championships down the road.
“That the best we’ve run in a Championship of America and the thing is I know we can run faster,” Turner said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I know we can run faster.”
Meanwhile, Strath Haven coach Bill Coren changed his lineup from Thursday’s qualifying heats. Cardi led off for the Panthers Thursday, followed by Maddie Forbes, Haase and Grace Forbes. Maddie Forbes ran leadoff Friday, followed by her younger sister, Grace, Cardi and then Haase.
“Coren just wanted to mix things up a little bit,” Maddie Forbes said. “He wanted me and Grace (Forbes) to run the first two legs. Grace was a little worried that she may get bumped off in the early part of the race so I went first.”
The goal now is to get better.
“Coren said that we can expect to drop 15 seconds off our time from the Penn Relays to the state meet,” Grace Forbes said. “I don’t know about that, but we’re going to do the best we can.”
NOTES >> One of the highlights of the day was Brittany McLaughlin’s sizzling anchor leg in the 4 x 400 Championship of America. The Olympian from Union Catholic ran a blistering 50.37 second split to help her team finish third with the best time by an American team (3:38.92). Hydel out of Jamaica stole some of McLauglin’s luster by winning in a meet-record time of 3:33.99. … Edwin Allen from Jamaica won the 4 x 100 Championship of America in 43.96 seconds.