Penn Relays 2013: Felecia Majors, Anna Williams, Antonella Taylor and Sophie Chase will bring titles back to D.C. area


Edison All-Met Anna Williams shows off her gold watch after winning the triple jump in a personal-record 41 feet 1 1/2 inches at the Penn Relays on Thursday at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. (David Rutz/The Washington Post)
April 25, 2013

South County assistant coach Randy McConchie sounded bemused after watching senior Felecia Majors add another feather to a crowded cap of achievements with her first gold watch at the Penn Relays on Thursday.

“She’s insane,” he muttered, smiling.

Maybe there was something crazy about how easy Majors’s long jump of 20 feet 3 inches looked. It was, after all, a personal best and tied for 10th in meet history. She was one of four locals to earn top finishes at Franklin Field, along with Edison’s Anna Williams (triple jump), Bowie’s Antonella Taylor (shot put) and Lake Braddock’s Sophie Chase, who won her second consecutive Penn Relays championship in the 3,000-meter run.

The initial attempt was plenty long enough by Majors, who will compete in college for Tennessee and is nationally recognized for her astonishing versatility.

“I went out there and knew it was going to be some tough competition,” Majors said. “I worked my end and tried to get as much height as possible. The voice in my head said, ‘Get height, get height, get height.’ ”


Wootton's Gwen Shaw, shown during her leg of the 4x400 relay, finished second in the 400 hurdles on Thursday at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Scott Silverstein)

While there was something almost businesslike about her breakthrough at the Penn Relays, Williams had to rally to victory in the next pit over with her final triple jump, which went 41-1.5. It was more than four inches better than her previous best attempt Thursday.

Jumps coach Ed Baldwin, a former Eagles track star and All-Met selection, worked with Williams on a six-step approach to the triple jump to train her to be more aggressive. He said proudly that “she let it all go” on her final attempt.

“She worked through all the phases, and she put it all together,” Baldwin said. “It’s a great feeling for me to watch her be so happy out there and jumping so well.”

Williams walked toward the bench after her clutch leap, and waiting with a hug was Majors.

Ecstasy loves company, although they could not have gotten their first watches in more different fashion.

“I just told myself to have fun and not to think about all the technical things,” Williams said. “That’s what I was doing for the first five jumps.”

Chase ran the final 800 meters of her event with the opposition two steps behind and finished in 9 minutes 35.52 seconds. This came after she ran a 2:16.2 on her leg of the 4x800 relay semifinal to help her Bruins teammates earn the third-best time overall (9:15.70) and qualify for the championship.


Lake Braddock's Sophie Chase won her second consecutive Penn Relays title in the girls' 3,000 meters on Thursday at Franklin Field. (Courtesy of Scott Silverstein)

Chase checked Twitter in the hours before her evening race and noted how much success Washington area athletes were already having.

“I think the representing from the area says so much about our culture down there, to work hard,” she said.

Taylor earned first place in the shot put with a throw of 13.81 meters (45-3.75), edging runner-up Courtney McCartney (45-3). Wootton’s Gwen Shaw took second in the 400 hurdles (59.97), and Woodbridge’s 4x400 (3:47.37) girls also qualified for the championship round, grabbing the second-best time of any U.S. team.

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