Casey Greenwalt and her 4x800 teammates ran away from the field at Taco Bell, but they will be chasing on Thursday morning.
Getting into an individual event is an honor, but it's called the Penn RELAYS for a reason! Nearly any team can bring a 4x100 and 4x400 to the meet, and the exprience of going through the precision marshalling and competing inside Franklin Field is one-of-a-kind. This year's crop of North Carolina representatives is very small, though. T. C. Roberson was accepted into the girls' 4x800, and with their recent improvement could actually make the Championship of America final - though it will take an all-out effort in qualifying to make that happen. The Rams are also in the 4x400 and 4x100, where they will be joined by Providence Day. There are no boys' teams from the Tar Heel State entered in any of the relays this year, the first time I can remember that happening.
North Carolina may not have many relays in the meet, but the state's distance runners are out in force. In the boys' mile, Ian Milder (Mount Tabor) and Philip Hall (Terry Sanford) will take on a strong field featuring New York state champ Luke Gavigan (Tappan Zee), who has a 4:08 PR. MileSplit US has Milder ranked second in this race, and the step down in distance from two big 3200's over the last month could help Ian sustain his high level of performance. Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson) will have her hands full in the girls' mile, and not just with her American foes - there are three strong competitors from South Africa entered for the Thursday evening race. The fastest of those, Lizerie Ferreira, has a PR of 4:22 for the 1500, and if she is anywhere near that level of fitness she will be able to set a blistering pace. Amelia Paladino (University, WV) and Kennedy Weisner (Elk County, PA) are both very strong runners, and Weisner has two Penn Relays miles under her belt already.
In the 3000, Kayla Montgomery (Mount Tabor) and Mary Grace Doggett (Cardinal Gibbons) enter the race with the 4th and 5th best seeds (when converted from 3200). Hannah DeBalsi (Staples, CT) looks like a heavy favorite, with her PR of 10:10 in the 3200, and she could pull the race to fast times. Sydney Foreman (Ardrey Kell) is also in the race, giving NC three representatives looking to go sub-9. On the boys' side, Patrick Sheehan (Lake Norman) should be competitive in a large field that includes Christian Alvarado (Fairfield, CT), a 9:00 two-miler. Sheehan is used to pushing hard in the early and middle portions of the race, and that should serve him well here; this will be a crowded race, and may see several lead changes. In the 3000, anything under 8:30 would be an excellent result for any male runner, so that should be Patrick's goal.
The Penn Relays does not feature any individual events below the mile, except for the 400 Hurdles. Anna Cockrell (Providence Day), who leads our state in the 300 Hurdles, will test her strength and stamina at the longer distance (which many people feel is the most physically difficult single event in track & field). Not only will she have to contend with some talented New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania hurdlers, but Anna will also face Jamaicans and South Africans. Adrenette Knight (Vere Tech, JAM) has run under 59 this season, and she has big race experience: she went to the World Youth Games last summer. Cockrell's time of 1:02 from the Taco Bell Classic shows that she has the ability to contend against a field that includes at least 5 athletes that have gone under 60 at some point in their career. Watch out for the two Long Beach Poly (CA) runners, Ebony Crear and Kymber Payne, who have both run 41's for the 300 Hurdles this spring.