Mervo makes its mark at Penn Relays

May 01, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The record crowd of 43,830 that turned out for the close of the 100th Penn Relays yesterday saw legends past and present.

The Olympic Development events brought out world champions Michael Johnson, Kevin Young and Jearl Miles. Scores of the sport's biggest names participated in Penn's centennial celebration, and it was the kind of day when decathlon heroes Bob Mathias, Rafer Johnson and Dan O'Brien sat down together to watch American record-holder Sheila Hudson show her stuff in the triple jump.

But the high schools and colleges remain the draw at the world's oldest and largest relay meet, and they delivered.

The Jamaicans swept the three Championship of America races for high school boys for the seventh time in nine years.

Mervo was a major factor in two of those races, placing third and obliterating the area record in both the 400 and 1,600 relays.

The 1,600 relays for the colleges went to the Seton Hall women and the Georgia Tech men. Anchors for both teams did their prep running in Maryland. Flirtisha Harris ran for Calvert County and Derek Mills ran for De Matha.

Harris' split of 50.6 seconds caught LSU and made the folks from New Jersey proud, and the Yellow Jackets set a meet record of 3:02.66.

But on the "Wooo" scale -- Franklin Field's unofficial noise meter -- no one got a bigger reaction from the crowd than Tennessee's Jose Parrilla.

The Volunteers were down by more than 20 meters when Parrilla got the baton for the 800 anchor leg of the sprint medley relay, and his 1:44.5 split, one of the fastest in meet history, brought Tennessee home in 3:13.28.

Parrilla didn't pass Abilene Christian's Savieri Ngidhi until the last five meters, and his late charge was reminiscent of the kind of kick that got him a berth on the U.S. Olympic team in 1992. Four years before that, before his family settled in Homestead, Fla., he was the state 4A champion for Severna Park High.

"I use lactic acid as adrenalin," said Parrilla, favored to win his third NCAA title in the 800 in June. "I said to myself on that last lap, 'This is going to hurt so good.' The more I hurt, the more hyper I get."

Mervo was a happy tired after a memorable day for the Baltimore City school that doesn't even have a track.

In the morning, the Mustangs advanced to the Championship of America in the 1,600 relay, as their 3:17.40 broke the area record of 3:17.8 set by Woodlawn in 1980.

James Carter, Royston Lytle, Anthony Stuckey and Ben Braswell closed to third in the Championship of America 400 relay. The time, 41.26, toppled the area record the Mustangs set earlier this month.

Later, Carter, Garfield Thompson (subbing for Lytle), Braswell and Stuckey came back for another third in the Championship of America 1,600 relay, lowering Mervo's six-hour-old area record to 3:16.25. Jamaica College (3:09.54) was disqualified, so island rival Vere Tech got the victory and the meet record (3:10.61). Stuckey got the baton in sixth place, and his 47.3 anchor moved up the Mustangs.

"I didn't think it was that fast," said Stuckey, the state 4A runner-up in the 400 last year. "I had a 46.8 split last summer, but that was in July. I didn't think it was going to be hot enough for me here."

It was the best showing by an area school at Penn since 1964, when Kenwood won two distance events.

"I'm overwhelmed," Mervo coach Fred Hendricks said. "Stuckey

and Braswell are experienced kids who know how to operate at a big meet, and nothing's bigger than this. We can't run much better than we did today."

Another man without a track, UMBC freshman David Bobb, placed fourth in the college 100 --, and anchored the Retrievers to second in the IC4A 800 relay, where their 1:24.63 edged Morgan State's 1:24.91.

The Bears led the state in the 1,600 relay, placing third in the IC4A final in 3:10.46.

NOTES: Xavier Brisco anchored state 2A power Oakland Mills to some fine times, as the Scorpions ran 3:22.0 in the 1,600 relay and an area-leading 7:58.17 in the 3,200 relay. . . . Woodlawn (3:23.49) also had a good showing the 1,600 relay. . . . The Navy women's 3,200 relay team of sophomore Lori Kelley, junior Nancy Olson, freshman Maureen Moroney and freshman Kim McGreevy broke the school record with a fifth-place time of 8:58.28. It was the first time in Navy history that a group has broken the nine-minute barrier. . . . The Louisiana State's women's 800 relay team, anchored by Cheryl Taplin, set an American record of 1:32.55. . . . The Arkansas distance corps had another easy time in the 6,000 relay, as their 14:52.81 was more than 11 seconds faster than Providence.



Olympic Development 100 yards--1, Jon Drummond, Nike-Los Angeles, 9.33 seconds. 2, Andre Cason, Nike-International, 9.36. Rodney Lewis, unattached, 9.48. 4, Lee McRae, unattached, 9.51. 5, Rod Tolbert, Nike-Atlantic Coast, 9.73. 6, Brandon Jones, unattached, 9.75.

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