PHILADELPHIA – There are very few opportunities for track & field athletes to cross the finish line first with 38,000 screaming fans in the stands.
The East Brunswick High School senior anchored the Bears’ 4×100 to victory in the Penn Relays International Final. They recorded a blistering time of as Phillip held off the anchor for Jamaica’s Wolmer’s Boys (second place, ). He extended his arms in triumph at the line as the crowd roared.
James Sparrow, Christopher Serrao and Aiden Baldelli ran the first three legs for East Brunswick, which lowered its own Middlesex County record and logged the 12th-fastest 4×100 time in state history. It was the second-fastest American clocking recorded at the Penn Relays, behind only Calvert Hall of Maryland.
“The handoffs, I felt, were a lot better today,” Serrao said. “We finally got it down, and I think that might have been the key to dropping our time.”
They did quite a bit on Saturday. In the morning, several hours before the 4×100, East Brunswick’s 4×400 posted New Jersey’s second-fastest time, a 3: eye-opener. The foursome of Baldelli (), Serrao (), Joshua Augustine () and Phillip () won their heat easily, by a whopping 11 seconds.
Their time wound up being the 15th-fastest among 416 entrants. Only five American squads ran faster, including Seton Hall Prep (3:).
Ridge earns watches in boys 4×800
Prior to the meet Ridge’s boys made a difficult decision: challenge rival Union Catholic for the distance medley title or take their chances against Jamaican power Jamaica College in the 4×800.
The chose the latter, and while they didn’t get a Penn Relays wheel, they did come home with gold watches as the top Americans. The quartet of Andrew McCabe (1:56), James Kisker (1:54), Patrick Doran (1:57) and Jackson Barna (1:) ran 7:, 13 seconds behind Jamaica College’s otherworldly 7:28 but ahead of the rest of the American squads in the 14-team Championship of America final.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Doran said. “Jamaica College is a great team. I’m not sure we were expected to win, but we put a great effort out there. (Third-place) West Springfield pushed us hard; 7:41 is not something to be ashamed of.”
Those were just the latest highlights from series of dominant showings at the Penn Relays by Central Jersey track & field athletes. Here’s a rundown of the rest:
Union Catholic’s triumph
Union Catholic has been New Jersey’s dominant program for several years under coach Mike McCabe, but the Vikings never collected a Penn Relays wheel – the meet’s most coveted prize, a giant oval plaque for winning a relay.
That changed Friday as Jimmy Wischusen (3:11 for the 1200-meter leg), Nick Givan (49.7 400), Myles Plummer (1:58.0 800) and Shane Brosnan (4:15 anchor 1600) broke the tape in .
“This was something we’ve been talking about forever,” said Plummer, who hails from Franklin. “(McCabe) said we’ve never had a Penn wheel, and we finally got it. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but I know we’re going to cherish it.”
These things don’t come easily, and Brosnan had to hold off hard-charging St. Raphael (R.I.) anchor Devan Kipyego in the final lap. Kipyego ripped off a 4:04 anchor but Union Catholic held on to win by just under a second.
“Going into the last lap I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is happening,” Brosnan said. “I knew I was running solo, and hearing the crowd I knew he was closing down on me.”
It’s a lonely, nerve-wracking place to be. But Brosnan dug deep enough, unlocked just enough gas in the tank, to get the Vikings to the winner’s podium.