Mervo primed for Penn Relays 400-meter

April 30, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- As is its custom on the last Friday night in April, Mervo practiced baton exchanges on the parking lot of the Motel 6 last night.

Today, the team will be back on the track at the 100th Penn Relays Carnival at Franklin Field, where it qualified yesterday for the Championship of America in the 400-meter relay. Mervo is one of only two teams representing the United States. Five of the eight qualifiers are from Jamaica, and one is from Canada.

Mervo and Glen Mills, Pa., were the only U.S. teams to advance from a field of nearly 400 teams.

The Mustangs team of sophomore James Carter, junior Royston Little and seniors Anthony Stuckey and Ben Braswell easily won their heat in 42.23 seconds, the top time among the more than 360 U.S. teams.

Four teams, all from Jamaica -- St. Jago, Wolmer Boys, Jamaica College and Kingston College -- ran faster than Mervo. Before last year, when T.C. Williams of Alexandria, Va., ran an Eastern record 40.56, Jamaican teams had won the event eight straight times and 13 of the past 14.

This is Fred Hendricks' 20th season as the Mervo head coach, and his first Championship of America race.

"The fact that there is only one other American team in there

makes it that much more special," Hendricks said. "It's nice, but since we're there, we might as well try to win. I thought we were good enough to get there last year, but could only advance to a consolation race."

The Mustangs hope they're in for a busy day. Mervo leads the area in the 1,600 relay, and Hendricks says the same 400 team is also ready to crack the area 1,600 record, 3:17.8, and advance to this afternoon's Championship of America in that race, too.

The Mustangs already own the area record in the 400 relay -- 41.8 earlier this month. Coming out of Lane 1 yesterday, the Mustangs were faster than any of the state's colleges. They used a new leadoff, with Carter taking over for the hobbled Dante Palmer.

Old Mill's Todd Singleton finished third in the high jump with an effort of 6 feet, 9 1/2 inches. It's as high as any area boy has jumped since 1986.

A senior who is headed to Duke on an academic scholarship, Singleton didn't depart Old Mill yesterday until after his first-period class. A 6-4, 180-pounder, Singelton finally broke the Old Mill record set a dozen years ago by Pete Rogers, who's now one of his coaches.

Perry Hall's Dave Russell tied for fourth in the pole vault at 13-3 1/2 .

Among the college men, UMBC freshman David Bobb had the third-fastest time, 10.50, in the qualifying heats for the 100. The Retrievers will join Morgan State in the IC4A finals in the 800 and 1,600 relays. The Bears led state schools in both events, running 1:25.01 and 3:13.40, respectively.

The Villanova women got a 4:17.4 anchor leg from Becky Spies to beat Michigan in the 6,000 relay. The Arkansas men came up with a seven-second win in the distance medley, in 9:28.07.

That left Villanova's Marty Stern and Arkansas' John McDonnell tied with 22 Championships of America apiece, most among active coaches. The Wildcats had hoped to put Stern on top with a win in the sprint medley, but Arizona State (3:43.34) won for the second straight year, a second ahead of Texas and two in front of Villanova.

Arizona State is directed by former Morgan State coach Leonard Braxton. It was the ninth time a Braxton-coached team claimed a Championship of America.

NOTES: Thursday night's distance schedule concluded with John Scherer taking the men's Olympic Development 10,000 in 28:12.32. Scherer, a Glenelg High star a decade ago who won two NCAA titles in the 10,000 for Michigan, didn't get under 29 minutes last year. . . . Navy (42.52) advanced to today's IC4A 400 relay, while UMES (42.27) was the fastest state college in the qualifying heats. . . . Butch Reynolds, Jack Pierce, Dave Johnson and Joe Falcon -- not to mention 40-and-over 100 -- runner-up Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, the former NFL player -- added glitter to what was expected to be run-of-the-mill events. . . . Oakland Mills (43.71) missed advancing to the smaller high schools consolation race in the 400 relay by .06. . . . Bob Keino, the son of Kenyan legend Kip Keino, won the boys' 3,000 in 8:29.93. He runs for Ridgewood, N.J.

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