PHILADELPHIA — Loudoun Valley junior Andrew Hunter could have attempted to defend the 3,000-meter title he won a year ago. But during the cross-country season, Hunter decided against what he said would have been the easier path. Having showed his prowess in long distance races, Hunter had his eyes on a different event at the 121st running of the Penn Relays.
He wanted to run the mile.
Hunter varied his training and implemented more speed work, wanting to avoid being pigeon-holed as a two-miler. Hunter trained vigorously — all of it leading up to Friday’s mile at Franklin Field.
Hunter finished first, in 4 minutes 7.15 seconds.
“I was a lot more nervous coming into this one,” Hunter said. “I came in with a chip on my shoulder. I’ve proven I can run the longer distances and I wanted to prove myself in the mile and get out of my comfort zone. It’s a lot more satisfying to challenge myself.”
After a fairly fast first lap, the pace slowed during the second. It picked up on lap three with a solid front pack of four runners. With 300 meters to go, Hunter decided it was time to kick. Three runners, including Northwest senior Diego Zarate, followed but Hunter had enough to hold on.
“That’s sometimes a little far out [to kick] in the mile because it’s a shorter race,” Hunter said. “But I said let’s do this. As soon as I hit the last lap, I told myself that when 300 hits I’m going.”
Zarate, seeded 11th, finished third with a personal-best 4:09.69. Zarate jumped out to an early lead and stayed with the top four throughout.
“My freshman and sophomore year I never made it close to the Penn Relays,” Zarate said. “Last year it was the [1,600-meter relay]. To run the mile, it’s just an honor to run here.”
Whitman senior Evan Woods placed 13th with a time of 4:21.15.
Lake Braddock finished fifth in a close high school boys’ distance medley relay with a time of 10:13.41. Colin Schaefer ran the 1,200 in 3:10.50, Edgar Pereira ran the 400 in 50.00, Ben Fogg ran the 800 in 1:56.60 and Alex Corbett ran the 1,600 in 4:16.30.
Riverdale Baptist senior Rashad Manning placed fifth in the shot put with a throw of 61 feet 9
In the high school girls’ 400-meter relay, Riverdale Baptist — Ayanna Johnson, Dnia Freeman, Taylor Woods, Jaela Gay — finished sixth in 47.19. Bullis — Jon Glass, Kyla Lewis, Alexis Postell, Arianna Richards — placed eighth in 47.44.
Three local teams won their respective boys’ 400-meter relay heats and will compete in Saturday’s championship race at 1:50 p.m. T.C. Williams ran the fastest American time in the preliminary round in 41.71 and is seeded fifth. DeMatha timed a 42.08 to earn a seventh seed. St. John’s finished in 42.38 and is seeded eighth. These three schools are the only Americans competing in the championship race; the other five are from Jamaica.
“The DMV represented very well,” DeMatha Coach Buster Antoine said. “It will be a great final.”