Meade runs third in elite field

The Baltimore Sun

PHILADELPHIA -- The Meade Mustangs were in exclusive company.

They had reached the final of the boys scholastic "Championship of America" 1,600-meter relay with a sizzling time of 3 minutes, 14.68 seconds in the morning session of yesterday's concluding day of the 114th Penn Relays.

Just two other American teams - Bethel of Virginia and Long Beach Poly of California - had been fast enough to join the four Jamaican squads and one from the Bahamas in the final.

But the Mustangs weren't about to cruise home on their laurels.

Instead, the quartet of Anya Uzoh, Dahmar Smiles, Matthew Brinkley and Justin Murdock continued pouring on the pace and came through with a solid third-place finish.

St. Jago of Spanish Town, Jamaica, won the final in 3:15.66 over Bethel's 3:16.33 with Meade right behind in 3:17.11, and Long Beach Poly fourth in 3:18.07.

That put three other Jamaica teams and Hayward High of Freeport, Bahamas, out of the title hunt.

Conditions were warm and sunny for the morning races, but cold and windy by the late-afternoon final, accounting for the slowdown in times.

The four Mustangs - all seniors - danced around the holding area trying to stay warm before the starting gun was fired.

The pace at the front of the pack was fierce despite the falling temperatures. At the end, St. Jago's Nickel Ashmeade (49.2) had just enough to hold off Bethel's Javell Bullard (closing in a 46.7 rush.) Meade showed excellent balance in the final - Uzoh ran 50.0, Smiles 48.7, Brinkley 50.1 and anchor Murdock 48.3.

With most of the announced crowd of 49,831 - second largest in Penn's history - yelling encouragement, the top teams finished just 1.45 seconds apart.

"I think we represented our school well," Murdock said. "The Penn Relays is the best, and we proved we can run with the best."

Westlake's Greg Walker, Devon Smith, Jesse Mitchell and Kenard Harris showed plenty of speed, too, racing to a 41.38 fourth place in the boys "Championship of America" 400 relay. And they collected Penn watches as the first U.S. team in a race won by Calabar (40.74), Camperdown (41.04) and St. George's (41.33), all of Jamaica.

Good Counsel's 42.84 was good for fourth place in the 400-relay small-school title race.

Morgan State's Tanisha Kendrick, Ashley Hines, Vivian Coloum and Avionne Sloan won the Eastern College Athletic Conference women's 1,600 relay in 3:42.34.

Maryland raced to an 8:54.45 third-place finish in the women's college second-tier 3,200-relay final. The Terps men ran 3:11.62 to finish second behind South Carolina's 3:10.21 in the second-tier 1,600 relay; Cornell (3:11.66) edged Morgan (3:11.97) in the ECAC men's 1,600 relay.

Navy's 7:33.85 took third in the men's second-tier 3,200 relay.

A day after he helped a U.S. team set a world best in the 480-yard relay shuttle high hurdles, Woodlawn and Ohio State grad Joel Brown anchored a world all-star team to fifth place in the USA versus The World 1,600 relay.

Other leading Maryland boys 1,600-relay teams in the early rounds included Montgomery Blair (3:18.46), C.H. Flowers (3:19.80), Eleanor Roosevelt (3:22.50), Paint Branch (3:24.04), Largo (3:24.14), DeMatha (3:24.35), Oxon Hill (3:24.52), Wise (3:24.76), Old Mill (3:24.88), Central (3:25.53), Tuscarora (3:25.90) and Douglass (3:26.56). Others under 3:31 were High Point (3:27.41), Governor Johnson (3:28.04), Clarksburg (3:28.38), Georgetown Prep (3:28.53), Laurel (3:28.69), Gaithersburg (3:28.85), North Point (3:29.41), Linganore (3:29.51), Long Reach (3:29.55), Mount St. Joseph (3:29.60), Bowie (3:29.63), John F. Kennedy (3:30.04), Aberdeen (3:30.29), Randallstown (3:30.34), Archbishop Curley (3:30.54), North Carroll (3:30.77), Suitland (3:30.59), Mount Hebron (3:30.72) and Loyola (3:30.87).

New Jersey's Lawrenceville School took the prep schools 1,600-relay crown in 3:24.10 with Gilman third in 3:30.38.

Albert Johnson of Corning, N.Y., won the boys triple jump with a 49- 1/4 performance while Woodlawn's Corey Fuller went 47-10 1/2 for fourth. North Point's Tristan Benton cleared 6-7 3/4 for a fourth-place tie in the high jump.

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