PHILADELPHIA -- Some teams and individuals from Baltimore who don't practice under the best conditions turned in some first-class performances at the 100th anniversary edition of the Penn Relays yesterday.
A record crowd of 46,810 came to Franklin Field primarily for the racing, but they also got a good show in the high jump for college men.
Ray Doakes, who set a meet record of 7 feet, 5 3/4 inches, is a member of an NCAA dynasty, Arkansas. The runner-up was Otis Winston, who's from another well-funded program, Ohio State, but Morgan State's Antoine Peck, officially the third-place finisher, cleared the same height, 7-3 1/4.
Peck began his college career at Rider College, and he didn't transfer to Morgan State for the Bears' facilities. Hughes Stadium hasn't been fit to hold a meet since the 1970s, but that hasn't stopped Peck from continuing his development into one of the top young jumpers on the East Coast.
Mervo High, meanwhile, has never had a track. But that obstacle didn't stop the Mustangs from being the top United States finisher in the 4x100 relay for the second straight year.
Mervo's foursome of Dante Palmer, Royston Lyttle, James Carter and Jason Panniell ran 41.67 seconds, which was good for fifth place in the Championship of America behind four Jamaican teams.
It eased some of the sting the Mustangs felt in the 4x400. Mervo expected to break the area record it set here last year, when it finished third, but it never got out of its qualifying section.
The race was recalled twice following spills that sent Lyttle to the track. He and Garfield Thompson switched places for the third attempt at the race, but the Mustangs were second in 3:20.98. It was more than four seconds off their seasonal best, but Carter's anchor split of 47.7 was the third-fastest of the morning among more than 1,500 boys.
"We just couldn't overcome the recalls," said Carter, a junior. "The 4x400 was a disappointment, but we had a seasonal best in the 4x100 and we were the first Americans across the finish line. Basically, that's our goal when we come here."
UMBC, which empathizes with Mervo's logistical hassles since it too doesn't have a track, had its plans for a big day fizzle when sophomore sprinter David Bobb pulled a muscle in the college 100 championship.
Running second to NCAA indoor champion Tim Harden of
Kentucky, Bobb visibly slowed at the 70-meter mark and finished fifth in 10.63 seconds, nearly three-tenths off his personal best. Minus Bobb, the Retrievers' shot at the IC4A 4x200 title was gone.
There should be a happy ending for Bobb and the Retrievers on the facility front, since UMBC is expected to break ground this summer for a track at its stadium.
The Olympic Development races brought out some of the world's premier sprinters, starting with Michael Johnson's anchor leg for Nike International in the 4x200. Olympic champions Gail Devers and Quincy Watts appeared in the 4x400s, with Watts leading Nike International to a Franklin Field record (3:01.13).
Jon Drummond and Andre Cason ran 1-2 in the 100; both were timed in 10.23.
The Arkansas men and the Villanova women continued their domination of the longer college relays.
Villanova got its third win in as many days, taking the 4x800 in 8:31.99. Tosha Woodward, who also starred on the Wildcats' distance medley and 4x1,500 groups, anchored in 2:03.6. Arkansas backed up Friday's distance medley win with another in the 4x1,500, and Graham Hood anchored both races.
In the climactic college 4x400 relays, Texas took the women's race in 3:32.67, as LSU's quest for a hat trick -- it won the 4x100 and 4x200 -- ended with a dropped baton. George Mason, which pushed Abilene Christian in a quick 4x800, left a winner, as it claimed the men's race in 3:03.94.
Among the high schools, the Mervo boys weren't the only speed team to come from inside the Baltimore Beltway. Woodlawn and Carver took second in the consolation 4x100 races for larger and smaller schools, respectively.
Tyrone Capers, Craig Thompson, Carlton Wheeler and Anthony Reid were timed in 42.74 for the Warriors. The Carver quartet of James Rooths, Andre Falcon, Alphonso Adams and Dameon Johnson was caught in 43.00.
Despite its problems in the 4x400, Mervo still had the area's fastest time (3:20.98).
Atholton (3:23.19) and Woodlawn (3:24.05) were third and fifth in their sections, respectively. Just as its girls did on Thursday, North County (3:24.98) won its section, and Poly (3:30.53) was first in its race. Other notable times were turned in by Old Mill (3:25.97) and Carver (3:27.1).