Those 4x8 teams from New York -- the best in the country -- are expected to battle for this year's Penn Relays championship.
The boys' squad from Syosset, led by twin brothers Dan and Sean Tully, ran a stunning 7:42.22 at the New York City Armory in February to set a national high school indoor record. Equally surprising, they were chased all the way by Shaker of Latham, which finished just 10 yards back.
A month later, Shaker, with Syosset not in attendance, took a shot at the new record and fell just short, 7:42.84.
This month at the Arcadia Invitational in California, Shaker won the 4x8 handily in 7:46.43, the fastest in the country for the outdoor season.
Syosset was not in those two races, but both are entered at Penn along with another strong New York group, Shenendehowa (Clifton Park). Shen, champ at Penn a year ago in the DMR, is opting for the 4x8 this year, in part to allow its top runner, Dan McManamon, to run in the individual mile. McManamon got Shenendehowa going with a 3:04.1 1,200 in last year's DMR. They were second to Shaker in the Arcadia race in 7:49.22.
Other contenders in this year's 4x8:
* North Penn (Lansdale, Pa.), 7:49.16 indoors
* Seton Hall Prep (NJ), 7:52.03i
* Northport (NY), anchored by Kevin Tshirhart, a 4:12 miler
* Holmwood Tech (Jamaica), which won the Gibson Relays in February in 7:50.06. Holmwood is led by Davian Parker, who has run 1:52.42.
Sean Tully, Syosset's expected anchor, ran 1:52.65 this indoor season. Archbishop Carroll (Wash, DC), which won a thrilling race in 7:44.42 a year ago, is not defending its championship.
With Shehendehowa gone in the DMR, there will be a new champion there as well. Colts Neck (NJ), the national indoor leader this year at 10:15.08, is the leading entry. They are led by sophomore Craig Forys.
Other top entries are Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, NJ), 10:17.19; North Rockland (Thiells NY), 10:17.04, anchored by John Martinez, and Newton North (Newtonville, Mass.), anchored by Chris Barnicle. Barnicle dominated the recent Arcadia 2-mile, winning in 8:56.20.
This year's sprint relays feature outstanding teams from Jamaica and California. Jamaican teams have been shut out in these races in recent years after a long period of dominance. A Jamaican team has not won the boys' 4x1 since 2000, the 4x4 since '02. (Jamaican boys' teams have been shut out completely since 2002, the first two-year drought for Island teams since 1972-72.)
Camperdown and Holmwood Tech are the teams to beat this year in the 4x1, Wolmer's Boys and Holmwood in the 4x4. Holmwood, which has never won the 4x1 at Penn, won a spectacular double at the Gibson Relays, 40.87/3:10.32, the latter a meet record by the team of Kemar Johnson (48.3), Mekel Downer (47.1), Kerone Robinson (47.5) and Romel Lewis (47.4).
But at the annual Boys' Champs a month later, they were beaten in both as Camperdown set a meet record in the 4x1, defeating Holmwood 40.39-40.46, and Wolmer's took the 4x4, 3:10.60-3:10.80.
No boys team has broken 40 seconds at Penn. The meet record is 40.15 by El Dorado, Trinidad, in 2002.
The main American challenger is expected to be Long Beach Poly, winner of the 4x4 here in 2003 and the 4x1 in 1997.
With a lineup of two juniors and two sophomores, Poly set a national indoor record in the 4x2, running 1:26.09. They also posted the season's fastest indoor 4x4, 3:17.10. Poly is led by sophomore Bryshon Nellums, who ran 46.92 at Arcadia in the open 400. Poly won the Arcadia 4x1 in 41.03.
The leading Eastern teams are expected to be Simon Gratz (Philadelphia), 1:27.13 indoors in the 4x2; Newburgh (NY), 1:28.94/3:17.82; Transit Tech (Brooklyn), 1:28.8/3:19.62; Old Bridge (NJ), anchored by Bryant McCombs, surprise winner of the National Scholastic indoor 400 (47.37); JFK (Paterson NJ), anchored by Shaquan Brown, 47.75 indoors, and C.H. Flowers (Md.), anchored by Afolabi Aromire, U.S. leader in the 500 (1:03.52).
Among the Jamaicans, Camperdown is led by Remaldo Rose, winner of the Champs 100 in 10.54.
St. Jago, which ran 40.93 at Champs and upset Camperdown at the Camperdown Classics in February, is led by Dwight Mullings (21.66) and Raseive Grant (21.64). Jago also was 3rd in the Champs 4x4 in 3:13.63.
Others to watch:
* Munro College 41.09
* Calabar 41.56
* Kingston College 41.37/3:12.85
* Ardenne 3:14.96
Last year's 4x1 champion was Glenville, Ohio, the first Ohio team to win a high school
relay at Penn since Lakewood won the 4x8 in 1930.
In the 4x8, the last New York team to win was Prospect Heights (Brooklyn) in 1998, the only N.Y. school to win the event in the last 20 years.
A single boys team has not swept the two sprint relays since Boys High of Brooklyn in '71-'72. The only Jamaican school to do so was KC in 1965; both units were anchored by the future Olympian Lennox Miller. The six others to win the double:
1970 Lincoln/Jersey City
1948, 1955 Boys High
1938 Evander Childs, Brooklyn
1931 New Utrecht, Brooklyn
The Jamaican boys' teams have not been shut out of a championship for three consecutive years since their first appearance at the Relays, in 1964.
~ Written by Jack Pfeifer