PHILADELPHIA -- Jerry Roney says he hopes his emergence as one of the nation's premier hurdlers continues with another victory at the 98th Penn Relays today.
A junior at James Madison University who was The Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Year for Woodlawn High in 1987-88, Roney will defend his 110-meter hurdles title before a packed house at Franklin Field today (ESPN, 2 p.m.). He won the event last year in 13.74 seconds, and led his semifinal in 13.84 before a crowd of 21,216 yesterday. Indiana's Glenn Terry, a rival since high school, had the fastest semifinal time, 13.76.
"I'm concerned about my start," said Roney. "This is my first big race of the season, and the final should be a good one."
Roney qualified for June's Olympic trials on the basis of his 1991 best, 13.63. That came during the trials at last year's NCAA championships, in which he brushed a competitor in the final and finished sixth. He was fourth in this year's indoor NCAAs, two weeks after grabbing the same place at the TAC national championships, behind Tony Dees, Renaldo Nehemiah and Tony Li.
Roney was busy on a day marred by afternoon showers. He sandwiched his hurdles race between an anchor leg in the 4x100 relay and a leadoff on James Madison's 4x400, in which he ran a 46.2.
Ohio State, with football player Robert Smith on the second leg, had the fastest qualifying time in the 4x400 relay, 3:04.66. Mount St. Mary's (3:12.09) and UMES (3:12.37) dueled in the same section, and advanced to today's consolation races. Navy was the state's fastest in the 4x100 (41.67), and moved into today's consolation for IC4A schools. UMES led the state in the distance medley (3:23.59), with Carl Hicks, a senior out of Northwestern High, on the 800 anchor.
In the college finals yesterday, the women from Villanova got the Wildcats their 100th Penn Relays title by cruising in the 4x1,500 (17:43.3), and the Arkansas men claimed the distance medley (9:26.62) for the eighth time in 10 years. The LSU women, with New Jersey native Dawn Bowles in key roles, nipped Florida in the 4x100 (44.14) and ruled the 4x100-meter shuttle hurdles in 53.8.
Maryland's Marchelle Payne (40-9) placed seventh and Morgan State's Wanda Evans eighth (37-8 3/4 ) in a talent-laden triple jump field; UNLV's Billie Butler improved the Penn Relays record to 43-6. The Terps' Steve Yates won the unseeded portion of the discus with a throw of 181-10.
Among area high school competitors, the Mervo team of Rodney Cabean, Ronald Keene, Anthony Stuckey and Ben Braswell ran 44.19 in the 4x100 relay and advanced to today's consolation final for schools with 524 or fewer boys. Poly senior Tramont Evans was 10th in the 400 intermediate hurdles in 54.90, and Gilman's Victor Carter-Bey was 11th in the shot put.
Jamaican schools continued their dominance of the girls relays: Vere Tech made it three straight in the 4x800 with an 8:44.69 run, and three straight in the distance medley with an 11:40.51. Camperdown took the 4x100 in 45.37. Eleanor Roosevelt, the Maryland Class 4A power from Prince George's County, was third in both races, going 46.65 in the 4x100 and 3:44.1 in the 4x400.
Ibrahim Aden of Fork Union (Va.) Prep took the boys 1,500 in 3:55.6.