Holmwood Tech is favored to win three of the four high school girls' relays this year. The Jamaican school is the favorite despite the fact it will be without one of its star sprinters, Anneisha McLaughlin. McLaughlin, silver medalist in the World Junior 200 last summer, has already competed in four Relays, the limit for high school competitors. Holmwood won the 4x1 (44.25) and 4x4 (3:36.46) at the nation's Girls' Champs last month, setting a meet record in the 4x1 at that historic meet. That is also faster than the Relays record of 44.32 set a year ago by Vere Tech. Holmwood also has the season's fastest time in the 4x8, the 9:01.26 it ran at the Gibson Relays in February.
In the 4x1, Holmwood is likely to use Schillionie Calvert (11.73/23.44) to replace McLaughlin and join Sonita Sutherland, Rosemarie White and Nyoka Cole. (Calvert was not a member of the 44.25 unit because that group is limited to Class 1 runners. Holmwood's Class 2 4x1, younger athletes, ran 45.65).
St. Jago was 2nd in the Class 1 4x1 in 45.60, 2nd in Class 2 in 45.87. Jago is led by Sudian Davis (24.28) and Latoya King (24.46). The second-fastest Jamaican 4x1 this season was actually the Edwin Allen Class 2 team, which ran a remarkable 45.37. (They also ran an astonishing 46.35 in Class 3, a division of junior high school-age competitors.) Allen's top sprinter is Kimberly Smith (11.95/24.35).
In the 4x4, Holmwood has Sutherland (52.10), silver medalist in the 2004 World Junior 400; Anastasia Le-Roy (23.53/54.22), Bobby-Gaye Wilkins (54.96) and Jerine Bolt (55.81).
They will have to contend with Edwin Allen, which kept it interesting at the Champs (2nd, 3:38.16) and West Catholic (Philadelphia), winner of the National Scholastic indoors (3:41.96). Allen has Sherene Pinnock (52.89), Andrea Sutherland (55.03), Shakeeri Cole (54.90), Latoya Sanderson (56.25) and Nadisha Page.
West Catholic won the Arcadia Invitational in California in 3:42.52 and is led by junior halfmiler Latavia Thomas (2:06.76) and senior intermediate hurdler Nicole Leach. Leach's 400 best is 52.19, run indoors in 2004.
The fastest time ever run by a Pennsylvania team is 3:39.70 by William Penn (Phila.) in 2001. William Penn is also the last Pennsylvania team to win the Relays 4x4, in 1996.
Long Beach Poly has won the past two 4x4s. It ran 3:48.04 at Mt. Sac in April. Poly also won the 2003 4x1 and set the national high school record in last year's 4x1, but it did not enter the event this year.
Edwin Allen was 2nd in last year's 4x4. They won the 4x8 in 2003 and 2004.
The leading domestic squads in the 4x1 are Hempstead (NY), 47.73; Middle College H.S. (Brooklyn, NY), 47.34 and 1:38.76 in the indoor 4x2; West Catholic, 47.80, and Bethel (Va.) 46.27/1:39.85, led by Francena McCorory, national leader indoors in the 300.
In the 4x4, Jamaica is also sending The Queen's School (3:45.09), Vere Tech (3:47.27), St. Jago (3:48.71), Manchester (3:49.30) and Wolmer's Girls.
From the States, Truman (Bronx, NY) has run 3:50.74, Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) 3:52.01 and Hempstead 3:51.16.
In the 4x8, Holmwood uses Cassandra Powell (2:12.98), Celia Whyte (2:14.07), Wilkins (2:14.06), Vanessa Boyd (2:14.90) and Cadian Beckford.
The top U.S. challengers will be Boys & Girls/Brooklyn, the fastest team in the country indoors (9:04.29); Saratoga Springs, the New York state indoor champion (9:12.37); Suffern NY (9:06.14), Lake Braddock Va. (9:17.83), Shenendehowa (Clifton Park, NY) 9:19.31, and Long Beach Poly, 9:18.17 to win Mt. Sac.
Saratoga has elected not to defend its championship in the distance medley. Edwin Allen was 2nd in the race a year ago but as later disqualified after it was determined that they used an ineligible competitor. They do not have an entry this year.
Vere Tech, which has not win this event since winning every one from 1990 to 1995, will have a strong entry that features Petrona Layne (2:16.07/4:47.70 1500) and Stacey Bell (2:13.77/4:33.66).
The top domestic teams are Warwick Valley NY (11:52.53), Bay Shore NY (11:59.59), Scotia-Glenville NY (12:04.64), Ocean City NJ (12:12.22) and Bronxville NY (12:14.20).
Warwick Valley is anchored by Aislinn Ryan, the national cross country champion last fall, who has run 4:49.92 in the mile.
Bay Shore hopes to have Laura Cummings back from injury to join sisters Sarah (2:16.89) and Mary Liz (4:52.87 mile) McCurcy. Ocean City is anchored by Brittany Sedberry (10:37.02 2-mile).
~Written by Jack Pfeifer