Penn Relays: Westfield comes up just shy in its 4X800 title defense

April 27, 2013

As defending 4x800-meter Penn Relays champion Westfield knew well, legacies are made at the nation’s oldest track event.

That was why it took every bit of the new U.S. No. 1 time this season (7 minutes 40.71 seconds) by Pleasantville (N.J.) to stave off the Bulldogs’ (7:41.84) gritty effort Saturday to win back-to-back plaques.

Anchor Nathan Kiley, running just his second 800 in three weeks after a strained hamstring, hung right behind Pleasantville anchor Jacob Clark for 700 meters, but Clark’s finishing burst put it away. Kiley split in 1:50.90, even better than his third leg last year (1:51.3) that rallied Westfield into first place, but Clark’s 1:49.17 was the best of the race.

“I didn’t really know where I was going to go out,” Kiley said. “He has a really strong kick, he’s a strong runner and he just got the better of me.”

Max Chambers (1:53.64), Jeff Edmondson (1:57.95) and Troy Sevachko (1:59.36) set up the final pulse-pounding minutes for the Bulldogs.

Chantilly’s Sean McGorty is one of the nation’s top distance runners, but running is a family affair for the McGorty’s. His parents were both Division I track and field athletes and Sean and his younger brothers are carrying on the family legacy. (James Sherrill for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

Westfield won the event last year in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to put up a 7:39.73. But without anchor Tyrone Walker and especially after the Bulldogs took second at the Virginia indoor state championships in February with just a 7:56.42, the hopes of even returning to the championship race looked dim.

“Coming in second, it’s not first, but it still gives us confidence,” Kiley said. “We didn’t have any expectation of doing anything this year in the 4x800, especially [after] indoor states when we only ran 7:56. So coming out here with that time, that’s big.”

Winning on a national stage in 2012 hugely elevated Westfield track’s visibility, and with another high finish, Coach Kelly Deegan looks forward to even more students coming out for track and field.

“I think it gets kids out that are in the halls that are kind of hesitant, that are pretty athletic,” she said. “It’s good to get those kids out and involved.”

The West Springfield team of John Amann, Billy Rabil, Michael Stormo and Owen Buck finished in eighth place in the 4x800 championship at 7:56.31.

Forest Park’s 4x100 boys finished seventh in the high school championship race of America, at 41 seconds flat, and Wise’s quartet placed sixth in the 4x100 large schools’ championship (42.79).

Gaston Assoua, with a long jump of 22 feet, 9 inches, placed eighth in the championship event for Blake and had the third-best attempt of any American entry. The top five in the event all hailed from Kingston, Jamaica, led by champion Sadiki Eddie (23-10.75).

Langley’s Robert Yu (13-9.25) and Oakton’s Lucas Wratschko (13-3.5) finished 15th and 18th, respectively, in the pole vault championship. John Seals (West Springfield) tied for 13th place in the high jump by clearing 1.92 meters (6-3.5).

The Penn Relays also announced Sean McGorty (Chantilly) as the High School Boys’ Athlete of the Meet for Individual Events after he broke the meet record in the one-mile Friday (4:04.47).

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