Penn Relays Preview
April 22-24, University of Pennsylvania, Franklin Field
400 Hurdles Championship: Columbus senior Whitney Fountain will show her versatility in the intermediate hurdles. The Clemson-bound Fountain clocked 60.73 on a cold day at the New York Relays. Fountain is one of the best short sprinters that New York State has ever seen and has proven herself over hurdles and at the 400-meter distance as well. Brentwood’s Donna Jeanty finished second, ahead of Fountain at New York Relays in personal best 60.60.
4x800: Garden City has yet to put its best 4x800 together this season so Penn Relays will be the team’s debut as a group. Michelle Rontondo and Emily Menges have both shown to be in great shape this season. The team ran 9:17.28 at Nike Indoor Nationals. Rontondo and Menges are the returnees from a squad that was the first U.S. team in the Championship of America 4x800 last year, riding a 2:10 anchor from Menges to finish fourth overall.
St. John Villa is also in the race and if everyone is healthy they can be a real threat to advance to the final. The team ran 9:12.85 Ursuline and scheduled to compete as well. Ursuline ran 9:19.61 indoors. North Rockland is
Distance Medley Relay Championship: Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa are the top teams in the races. Saratoga won the Nike Indoor title at 11:38.60 with Shen behind in 11:45.92. Shen finished third at Penn last year and is lead by Danicka Simonson and Lizzie Predmore. Saratoga is a team built around strength and depth and can always count on a boost from Keelin Holliwood. Bronxville will also be a contender in the race as long as the Broncos get strong performance from Henrietta Miers and freshman Mary Cain. Arlington, Warwick Valley will also bring solid teams. Monroe-Woodbury, St. John the Baptist and Syosset are all scheduled to race as well.
Mile Championship: Of the local athletes in this race, Lillian Greisbesland of Warwick Valley has the most compelling story. The Achilles injury that kept the senior sidelined her entire junior year is well documented. But it’s how she’s bounced back that’s grabbed people’s attention. For N.C. State-bound Greisbesland , this will be her biggest invitational race yet. Bayside’s Alaine Tate finds herself in another quality field and has never showed any reservation in taking the pace. Nanuet freshman Megan Young has been impressive since the cross country season and should gain valuable experience.
3,000 Championship: This race will feature the best distance runners in the country including superstar Chelsey Sveinsson (Greenhill, Tx.). But there are New Yorkers loaded in this first led by Cornwall’s Aisling Cuffe and Roslyn senior Emily Lipari. Lipari coasted through a 3,000 at the New York Relays in 9:45.71 and set the state record while winning the mile at the Nike Indoor Nationals. Cuffe has been almost equally unmatched this year and has developed a finishing kick that makes her ability even more fearsome.
Lipari led for half the race last year, something she doesn’t plan on repeating. But these races tend to become tactical, which could force Cuffe or Lipari to lead unless the field decides to sit behind Sveinsson the entire race.
Other New Yorkers in the race include: Nicole Irving (Shen), Roxanne Henningson (Greenwich), Molly Pezzulo (Saratoga Springs), Cassie Goutos (Saratoga Springs), Ursula Svoboda (Suffern), Catherine Maloy (Holy Names) and Sydney King (Saratoga Springs)
4x100 4x400: The PSAL’s Cardozo has been the dominant sprint relay for the past two years. Last year was a disastrous weekend that say Chamique Francis injure her quadriceps muscle in the prelims of the 4x100 and then the Judges narrowly missed the Championship of America in the 4x400. But Francis is healthy and in her best shape, having run 23.88 and 53.97 in Texas two weeks ago. Lateisha Philson won the 400 at the New York Relays and Ahytana Johnson also looks poised for a career season. The Judges should advance through to the COA but will really depend on a solid race from a freshman – indoors it was Sabrina Southerland – to step up. Indoors they led the country, posting a 3:44.97. A team from New York has never won the 4x100 or 4x400 at Penn.
Medgar Evers, led by Rachel Leeke and Nyanka Moise-Joseph also poses a threat to make the COA. That team ran 3:46.44 indoors and has already run 3:53.33 this season. Both Cardozo and Medgar Evers will be the top local teams in the 4x100 as well. Cardozo ran 46.97 Saturday, despite Philson losing her shoe at the start line. Keep an eye on teams like Mount Vernon and Garden City as well.
Field Events: North Babylon’s Vanessa Stewart goes in as the favorite. She’s already thrown 47-10.5 this season at Red Raider Relays. Stewart was struggling with a knee injury at the end of the winter season but seems to be rounding into form. … Jen Clayton of Suffern will be the top American athlete in the long jump. Clayton jumped 20-5.75 indoors. Peekskill’s Nicole Cummings will also compete. She jumped 19-6.50 in the winter. In triple jump features Westbury’s Marlene Ricketts, who jumped 40-6.5