E. Roosevelt Girls Repeat in Quick 4x400 Relay

By Carl Little
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, April 26, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, April 25 -- Doris Anyanwu jogged over to the stands at the Penn Relays, stuck her hand into a mass of bodies and pulled out a tiny flag. She paused long enough to smile at the large American contingent waving their own flags and chanting "U-S-A!" then joined her three Eleanor Roosevelt teammates as they took a celebratory lap inside Franklin Field on Friday.

Later, Anyanwu, Afia Charles, Elan Hilaire and Tasha Stanley piled on to a raised platform in the infield, held each other close and pointed their index fingers to the sky. For the second straight year, Roosevelt had won the 4x400-meter relay Championship of America. The Raiders crossed the line in 3 minutes 37.16 seconds, the fastest time in the country and the eighth fastest ever at the Penn Relays.

"We did it again," Anyanwu, a junior, shrieked after shaking her head for several seconds in silence. "I'm so excited."

Park View's Natalie Baird was the meet's top individual female performer. She won the discus title with a toss of 154 feet 9.75 inches, the third-best throw in Penn Relays history.

Baird, who signed with William & Mary, started slowly, fouling on her first attempt, but advanced to the final in second place. Her acceleration in the thrower's circle, combined with her power, catapulted her to a record third straight Penn Relays title.

Eleanor Roosevelt also had to come from behind to win. Boys & Girls High School of Brooklyn ran three seconds ahead of the Raiders halfway through the race, but Charles, who ran the third leg, handed off to Stanley at virtually the same time that Boys & Girls passed the baton to its anchor. The crowd of 39,904 roared as Stanley pulled away on the backstretch and burst into applause as she crossed the finish line.

Six hours earlier, Stanley (named the meet's top girls' high school athlete for relay events), Dominique Lockhart, Brittany OgunMokun and Amirah Johnson ran 8:43.12 in the 4x800 Championship of America -- an American high school record by seven seconds -- but still finished second to Jamaica's Holmwood Tech (8:41.92), the team the Raiders nipped at the line to claim last year's championship.

"Before we left home, our goal was to assault the national record, and we accomplished it," said Stanley, who anchored the 4x400 and 4x800. "It's going to take a while for someone else to break ours."

In boys' competition, Westlake was the only U.S. team to advance to the boys' 4x100 Championship of America, which will be held Saturday. Kenard Harris, Jessie Mitchell, Devon Smith and Greg Walker won their heat in 41.57 seconds, earning the right to compete in the eight-team final against five Jamaican schools and one from the Bahamas.

Westlake's girls, behind the efforts of Danielle Brock, Christina Manning, Tyonna Anthony and Daquanya Byrd-West, placed second in the 4x100 large schools championship in 47.15 seconds behind St. Andrews of Jamaica (46.98). Oxon Hill finished third, Annapolis sixth and C.H. Flowers was seventh.

Elizabeth Seton was runner-up in the small schools' championship in a school-record 46.31 seconds.

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