PHILADELPHIA -- Back home, Mervo and Carver are rivals. But put them at the Penn Relays, and they have a common goal.
Here, it becomes a national cause that boils down to one thing: beat the Jamaicans.
"We wanted to be in the Championship of America relay," said Mervo coach Fred Henricks, after his 4x100-meter relay team of Dante Palmer, Royston Lyttle, James Carter and Jason Panniell fulfilled that request with a time of 42.21 seconds, fourth best of the day and tops among American schools yesterday.
"That's what we're shooting for -- to try to hook up with the best. Everyone wants to beat the Jamaicans."
"We know the key to this race is the first and second legs," said leadoff man Palmer. "Since we have experience in the finals last year, things should go well."
Mervo should hear support from Carver, which won its heat and qualified for the consolation race. James Roots, Andre Falcon, Alphonso Adams and Dameon Johnson clocked 43.06, finishing 13th and just missing the elite field.
"Back in the city, it's a real big rival," said Carter. "The two best in Baltimore. Right now, they're helping us, even though they didn't make the finals. It's not as much a rivalry here as back home."
And if Mervo needs to be shown that the powerful Jamaicans can be beaten, it needs only check the girls 4x100 relay, where Howard was in the field. The Lions didn't topple the Jamaicans, but Long Beach Poly did, ending a Caribbean reign in that event stretching to 1981.
Howard's quartet of Kym Moorehouse, Suzette Mullings, Tominka Howard and Donna Mullings set a school record, 47.21, placing seventh.
In the boys 4x100, Woodlawn won its heat in 42.89, as did Old Mill in 43.46.
The best state collegiate showing was by UMBC's David Bobb, who qualified for the 100 final in 10.54, fourth best of the day. Towson State took second in its heat of the men's 4x100, clocking 42.77, and UMBC ran better, 42.13, but placed seventh in its heat.