PHILADELPHIA – The challenge was more than on just paper for the Lenape High School girls’ relay teams.
The Indians certainly had big dreams on the largest relay stage in the world, but they knew overcoming tight scheduling in their two races was also a hurdle in addition to having to run really fast.
First, the Indians wanted to defend their 4×400 South Jersey Big School Championship at the 121st Penn Relays and then they wanted to compete in the Championship of America in the High School Distance Medley Relay on the historic Franklin Field oval.
The problem was the two races were scheduled about 40 minutes apart Thursday.
Still, Lenape competed in both with Carly Pettipaw and Jasmine Staten doubling in each relays.
The Indians were successful in defending their South Jersey 4×400 title, but they finished in the middle of the pack in the DMR.
“It was really hard to come back,” Pettipaw said. “It is definitely hard to run a 400 (meters) and bumping up to an 800. I don’t think I was fully recovered, so I just tried to give my best effort in the 800 and just tried to stay in there and keep us in the race.”
Lenape went under four minutes in the 4×400 with a sparkling 3:59.53 to win back-to-back years.
“It is carrying over our tradition,” Pettipaw said.” Hopefully it is setting examples for all the kids that come in next year.”
Winslow finished second, but over 10 seconds behind Lenape at 4:09.93 while Williamstown took third at 4:11.98.
In the winning 4×400, Pettipaw led off in 59.66 and then Jasmine Staten blazed a 59.15.
“It was exciting,” Staten, a sophomore, said.
Shannon Storms ran a 1:00.76 leg and handed the baton off to Marissa Topolski with the lead.
“I was confident in my teammate, I knew she could handle it,” said Storms, a junior. “She doesn’t let people pass her.”
Topolski anchored with a 59.57 to cross the finish line first.
“I know we talked about it before of getting under four minutes, so it was such a good thing,” said Topolski, a senior, who will go to Rice University to play soccer.
In the DMR, Patriot of Nokesville, Va., won the gold with an 11:51.85 while Lenape placed seventh with a 12:16.79.
“The double was a challenge for them,” Lenape coach Gerald Richardson said. “If we would’ve ran fresh, they probably would’ve ran a lot faster, but that wasn’t the case.
Camille Franklin led off the DMR.
“It was our first major race since the indoor season, so it was a good way to kickoff out outdoor season,” Franklin said.
After Staten and Pettipaw ran again, Megan Quimby anchored.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” Quimby, a sophomore, said about running in Championship of America against four of the five fastest DMR teams in the country from the indoor season..
The double dip for Lenape wasn’t just hard on the nerves.
“It is tough and we planned on having maybe 50 minutes to an hour to recover and they are some of our top athletes so we worked for this type of condition,” Richardson said. “They ran well. They ran respectable times.”
“The fact that we ran in the Championship of America is the ultimate goal. It was a good experience for the kids to do that.”
Athlete of the Week: Lenape Track Carly Pettipaw
Pemberton won the South Jersey Small School 4×400 with a 4:07.97 over second-place Deptford (4:09.51) and third-place Haddonfield (4:10.88).
The Hornets’ team of Aliyah Taylor (1:00.20), Shanell Smith (1:05.16), Giavonna Sorrentio (1:02.04) and Tanaesza Russell (1:00.59) needed fast times to hold off Deptford’s Kiara Lester, who ran a sizzling 57.10 anchor leg.
Daijah Davis-Hines (Timber Creek) finished seventh in the 400-meter hurdles with a 1:03.17. Thaila Cooper (Kingsway) placed ninth in 1:03.45. Rachell Armstead (Millville) took 22nd in 1:07.50.
Gabrielle Bennett of Winslow Township placed ninth in the long jump with a 5-41/4 while Natalie Cowan of Hammonton tied for 14th with a 5-21/4.
Epiphany Grisbaum of Ocean City placed 14th with a 10:06.46 in the 3,000 Championship while Julianna Catania of Egg Harbor Township took 15th in the mile with a 5:21.66.
Ronetta Hunter of Burlington Township placed seventh in the shot put with a throw of 44-2.
Alyssa Whipkey of Pennsville and teammate Megan Saxvanderweyden placed 9th and 10th, respectively, in the javelin with a 132-6 and a 132-5. Niyah Cosme of Vineland took 16th with a 114-6 in the javelin.
Kevin Callahan; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org