PHILADELPHIA >> The bruise on Dennis Manyeah’s left shoulder caused by a nasty fall earlier in the day could not prevent the senior from Penn Wood from flashing a million dollar smile late Saturday afternoon.
A fourth-place finish by Penn Wood in the Philadelphia area 4 x 400-meter relay championship, in a season-best time of 3 minutes, 19.54 seconds turned a day that started in disaster into a successful outing for the Patriots.
The strange turn of events began when Manyeah was tripped during the second leg of the boys Suburban A 4 x 400 relay. Manyeah was jockeying with runners from Fatima High School in Trinidad and Glen Mills when he went down.
“I don’t know what happened,” Manyeah said.
Manyeah lay on the track for several seconds before he got up, picked up the baton and finished the leg. Somehow, the Patriots still found a way to finished seventh in 3:34.40.
When Penn Wood coach Len Jordan asked race officials what happened, he said he was told by three different referees that no runner fell, even though Manyeah was prone on the track and had the bruises to prove it.
“We had to take him to the medical center for treatment,” Jordan said.
After pleading his case with meet officials, Jordan decided to file a formal protest, which was upheld by Tim Hickey, the high school chairman for the relays.
“We learned that the runner did fall, which means the officials weren’t paying attention,” Hickey said. “So we advanced Penn Wood to the Philadelphia area race. We felt it was the right thing to do.”
“I wasn’t looking to get anyone disqualified,” Jordan said. “I even thought about not filing the protest, but after thinking about it I decided to file the protest because I didn’t want my guys to lose like that.”
The Patriots took advantage of the reprieve. Talus Gaymore, Manyeah, Todd Jackson and Injeri Sirleaf bounced back to finish fourth behind Howard Tech, Rancocas Valley and Central Bucks West.
“I’m happy with what we did today,” Manyeah said. “It doesn’t matter what happened, the most important thing was that we persevered and came back and ran strong.”
The Patriots shaved more than five seconds off the time they ran at the Knights Invitational two weeks ago.
“It showed how much character they have,” Jordan said. “They were upset, but they didn’t complain. They took it in stride. Things happen and you have to deal with it, but when they got the chance to redeem themselves they did. I’m proud of the way they handled the whole situation.”
Glen Mills also reached the Philadelphia area final, but the Bulls did not fare as well as they did in the Suburban A race, where they were second. Rami Marsh, Amir Webster, Keon Rantin and Tawefeeq Abdul-Lateef placed ninth in 3:27.28. Denarii Springs, Marsh, Rantin and Abdul-Lateef ran a season-best 3:22.19 in the Suburban A race.
Chester (Machai Langley, James Jackson, Lamaj Curry, Malik Langley) was third in the Suburban A race (3:27.24).
Well, You can scratch St. James from the Penn Relays record book. St. Joseph’s Prep broke the Bulldogs 26-year old record in the Catholic League 4 x 400. The Hawks (Robert Dupell, Stephen McClellan, Calvin Willie and Miles Green) finished in 3:18.11. That topped the mark of 3:19.07 that Robert Jackson, Harvey Johson, Robert Paden and Donald Guy ran for St. James in 1991.
Bonner & Prendergast (Dave Whitfield, Ethan Cook, Alton McKenley, Tony Harper) finished third in the race in 3:27.84. That was the best time by the Friars by nearly 18 seconds.
The best part was that the race was partially televised nationally by NBC SportsNet.
“That made me run faster,” Cook said.
Cardinal O’Hara (DaNeal Williams, Mac Mandeh, Obinna Ihejirka, Derek Sacks) finish fourth in 3:30.73, its best time by four seconds.
Lower Merion’s Rashaun Cooke ran a blistering 48.03 anchor split to lead the Aces to the title in the Central League 4 x 400-meter relay.
Cooke overtook Garnet Valley’s Cameron Strickland and Conestoga’s Andy Fabian in the final 100 meters to give Lower Merion its first title in a long time. Cooke was mobbed by relay teammates Romaine Rhoden, Teddy Neckowicz and Diarmid Rae shortly after he crossed the finish line.
“I didn’t want to lose,” Cooke said.
The Jaguars (Justin Bromley, Josh Bartosik, Cameron Beale and Strickland) finished second in 3:26.27.
In the field events, Strath Haven’s Dayo Abeeb was 16th in the triple jump (45-½).