PHILADELPHIA >> With 200 meters left in the Central League 4 x 400-meter relay at the 124th running of the Penn Relays Thursday afternoon. Garnet Valley freshman Grace Zamrowski had to deal with runners from Strath Haven and Penncrest as well as a case of nerves.
“Sometimes I get scared thinking about always having to run against girls who are older than me,” Zamrowski said. “Today I just made up my mind that I was going to do this because I wanted our seniors to go out with a championship.”
Zamrowski completed her anchor leg in 59.5 seconds, and the Garnet Valley team that included senior Maura Tease, sophomore Anastasia Erley, and senior Catharine Mooney claimed their school’s first Penn Relays 4 x 400 title.
The Jaguars’ winning time was 4:01.96. Strath Haven (Tess Bailey, Maggie Forbes, Grace Forbes, Olivia Malley) was second in 4:02.42, and Penncrest (Lauren Cawley, Tara Higgins, Bridget Spence, Morgan King) placed third at 4:03.36.
“We just put this team together, so we thought maybe we could get sixth up here,” Zamrowski said. “But we all believed in ourselves, and with 200 to go I thought we might be able to take third. Then near the end, I knew I couldn’t let the other girls down.”
Leadoff runner Tease had the Jags in the front pack before passing the baton to Erley.
“I had a Haven girl running beside me and that pushed me to run even harder,” Tease said.
Erley wasn’t sure she would be on the Franklin Field track.
“My swimming season just got finished after Nationals,” she said. “Last week, there were three of us competing for the one spot left on the relay team.”
Mooney recently decided that she would continue her running career at Penn State.
“We were sixth up here last year,” she said. “I think all of us just wanted this so bad today.”
Penncrest’s Higgins made a mad dash from the track after the 4 x 400 and was able to get to the throwing area in time to compete in the javelin.
Without a chance to get her steps down, she got off a best throw of 137 feet, 1 inch and placed fifth. Skylar Ciccolini of Mifflin County High, a Class AAA PIAA school in District 6, was the winner at 172 feet, 2 inches.
Penn Wood held off Chester to capture the Suburban A 4 x 400 relay for the second consecutive year and earn a spot in Saturday’s Philadelphia area 4 x 400.
Shaniyh Toodles, Kyra Carroll, Fanta Konde and Elicia Moore got the Patriots home in 3:57.59, while the Clippers’ team of Inicia Ferguson, Jiya Clayton, Ma’Kyia Poteat, and Danayzah Fitzgerald turned in a time of 4:01.34.
“I was nervous, but I knew I had to get out,” Toodles said. “I wasn’t really pacing myself (properly), but I did what I had to do.”
Carroll gave her team a good lead on the second leg.
“I had to go out faster than I wanted, then I just tried to maintain my speed,” she said.
Konde admitted that her team is still working to reach its potential after being held back some because of the nasty spring weather.
“We do what we can with our track situation,” she said. “But the halls have become our friend. “When we got (to the top of the stretch) I knew I had to use my legs and go after it.”
Carroll worked off what her Chester opponent was doing on the anchor leg.
“I knew she might go out too hard, so I felt could get her if I sprinted in,” she said.
The Strath Haven 4 x 800-meter relay team of freshman Maggie Forbes, Abby Loiselle, Taylor Barkdoll, and junior Grace Forbes finished third in its heat in 9:19.54, which was fast enough to qualify for the Championship of America race Friday afternoon for the eighth time in 10 years.
Maggie Forbes, running with a cast on her right wrist, which was broken in a soccer game more than a month ago, had Haven in second place after the leadoff leg. Loiselle dropped back to fourth, then Barkdoll moved the Panthers into third place.
“It was awkward running with the cast when they first put it on,” the younger Forbes said. “My wrist was still swollen. Now I don’t even think about it.”
Grace Forbes, running by herself on the anchor leg, turned in a 2:15.54 split.
“The first two (teams) were 50 meters ahead of me, and the next two teams after me were 50 meters behind,” she said. “It’s tough running alone like that and not having someone you can pace yourself off.
“I’m just happy we advanced and can get a chance to redeem ourselves (Friday). It’s been difficult this season with stretches where we just weren’t able to run outside. But you know you always have to keep going.”
Penn Wood’s team of Moore, Konde, Carroll, and Fatu Seck placed seventh in its 4 x 800 heat in 9:29.50, but the Patriots did not qualify for the championship final.
Upper Darby’s team of Jerrinith Sokan, Dominique Timmons, Danisha Wolo, and Michelle Ley turned in the fastest time among Delaware County schools — 49.55 seconds — in the 4 x 100-meter relay.
Cheltenham (48.06), Coatesville (48.68), and North Penn (48.68) were the only Pennsylvania schools to qualify for Saturday’s Tri-State championship race.
Sokan, the only senior among the Upper Darby runners, admitted to being emotional as she listened for the sound of the starter’s gun.
“I’ve been here for four years,” Sokan said. “I remember my freshman year how my heart was pounding.
“Today I started tearing up thinking this could be my last time running here (for Upper Darby). I really wanted to run as fast as I could to try to qualify to come back.”
Strath Haven’s team of Angela Campanella, Mayowa Songonuga, Olivia Malley, and Dana Hubbell was clocked in 49.78 seconds, and Chester High’s Ferguson, Keiasia Kennard, Clayton, and Fitzgerald had a time of 50.87 seconds.
In other events, Ridley’s Meghan Lynch placed 14th in the triple jump, with a top effort of 37 feet, 5¼ inches. Lotavia Brown of Edwin Allen from Clarendon, Jamaica, was the winner at 43 feet, 2¼ inches. … Cardinal O’Hara (Christine Mancini, Jesikah Boykin, Lindsay Crawford, Ava Medici) was third in the Catholic League 4 x 400 in 4:15.69. A little while later Elizabeth Mancini took 17th place in the 3,000-meter run in 10:12.02.
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