Lavong pops 24-5 LJ; Newburgh sets 2 US #1

By Christopher Hunt

all photos by Mary DiBiase Blaich

Maybe because it’s the holiday season Methacton’s Calton Lavong had everyone but himself on his mind at the Marine Corps Holiday Classic.

He turned to the crowd before each attempt in the long jump, hoping to get fans along the home stretch as excited to see Lavong jump as he was to be jumping. And even more important, since the event was a long jump relay, he wanted to set the tone for his teammate, Kevin Dargan.

What resulted – on his first attempt no less – was a 24-foot, 5-inch launch that gave Methacton all the advantage they would need to win the long jump relay with a combined 44-6.5, breaking their own meet record. Lavong’s first attempt is the leading jump in the country this season and his indoor person best.

“I knew that through my training that I was going to be better,” Lavong said. “I knew I was stronger and faster. I actually wanted to get 25 feet but it’s hard off of three jumps.”

Lavong never improved on his first attempt but said that he’s always been better given the three extra attempts athletes receive in a final round. But athletes are only allowed three attempts in a field event relay.

“I like meets like this because they give jumpers that aren’t as good a chance to win a gold medal,” he said. “For me, I wanted to make sure that I jumped first to show my teammate what he can do.”

Lavong said he knew when it popped off the board that he had something special. But he almost looked past his accomplishment, which earned him most outstanding athlete, to remain focused on his goal of reaching 25 feet. Still, his 24-5 attempt is just four inches of his lifetime best.

“It’s nice to see on top the US leaderboard and on top in PA but I know what my goal is,” said Lavong, who is considering USC, LSU and Arizona State. “If I can jump 24-5 now I know I’ll be able to do something later in the season.”

Newburgh also wasted no time showing its potential for major success this season. Behind a bullet-like second leg from Randy Patterson, Newburgh clocked the nation-leading time to win the 4x200 final in 1:29.26 with a team that included Davis Reynolds, Robert Robertson, Patterson and Fred Locklary.

Locklary pointed the baton skyward after Newburgh ran a time faster than their season-best last year when they were one of five New York teams to run under-1:30. The race stayed close to two legs until Patterson swallowed two runners on the backstretch and blew the race open on third leg.

“He’s strong,” Locklary said of Patterson. “He learned from a couple years ago how to make those big moves.”

But once Patterson made his surge the race seemed a foregone conclusion and the early season time puts Newburgh in the conversation already for who has the best sprint relay in the country. Especially after the team returned to set a US #1 in the 4x400, winning in 3:21.79.

“I think we are going to do some things this year,” Locklary said.

St. Anthony’s is hoping for the same after winning the championship distance medley relay in a national leader 10:29.39 with Brendan Keaney, Pat Farmer, Payton Hazzard and Patrick Murphy.

Murphy, recovering from a cold earlier in the week, closed the door on the race after Hazzard created some separation on the 800-meter third leg.

“Everyone really pulled through,” Murphy said. “We knew we had a really strong team. When I got the stick I was just running scared. I looked back and didn’t see anybody and I just wanted to keep the lead for us.”

Most impressive though, was Farmer, a soccer-import, on the second leg. Farmer is in his first season on the track meet and the race was his second attempt at 400 meters. He split 48.4 on the second leg.

“He’s nasty,” Murphy said.

The finish to the invitational 800 meters could have been nasty. Jaime Gibilisco of Notre Dame (N.J.) led most of the way, trying to push the pace after a slow 56-second first quarter mile.

“I picked it up after that,” he said. “I wanted to get a time.”

But while Gibilisco chased the clock, David 

Gunnerson of Grafton (Va.) chased him. Gunnerson pulled to Gibilsco shoulder with 50 meters left and when Gunnerson swung wide it looked as though he had a chance at the front. But Gibilisco managed to hold off the charge to win in 1:57.17, an indoor personal best.

“I’m a kick runner so I had confidence that I could keep him off,” Gibilsco said. “I definitely felt him there. I didn’t expect to lead the race but I really wanted to go after a time. I’ve never broken 2 minutes indoors before I ran 1:59 last week.”

Ablington (Pa.) became the first time this season to break 8 minutes in the 4x800.  Charles Ross, Tevin Smith, Eleazar Cardoso and Kyle Moran won the race in 7:59.75. Ablington looked to have the race in hand when Cardoso was competing his last lap on the third leg but suddenly Bayport-Bluepoint’s third leg put in an explosive surge and deleted any advantage and forced Moran to become a rabbit for Bayport’s anchor.

“I could feel him sitting there,” Moran said. “He was on me but I knew what I had left and I knew I could go. … We would have liked to run a little faster but this is a solid time for right now in the season.”


Reach Christopher Hunt at

all photos by Mary DiBiase Blaich