Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Keith Pompey: Southeastern Pa. boasts top high-school track talent

An old friend named James Tolliver called the office Wednesday. We haven't spoken in a few years. Tolliver said he Googled me and got my contact information.

An old friend named James Tolliver called the office Wednesday.

We haven't spoken in a few years. Tolliver said he Googled me and got my contact information.

"My man Keith Pommp-pee!," he yelled through the receiver with his baritone voice. "What's good, fool?"

As I routinely do, I chuckled at his purposely butchering my last name.

It's always great to hear from Tolliver. I actually wish we spoke more often.

He asked questions:

"How's Philly treating you?"

"How's your family doing?"

"What's your primary coverage right now at the Inky?"

Philly is Philly, my family is well, and I just finished up covering track, were my answers.

"Track?," Tolliver said. "You know they can't run track in Philly. That's a basketball city."

At the moment, my buddy J.T. needed a history lesson.

While basketball is arguably the area's best sport in terms of talent level, track isn't far behind.

Did he know this area produced former 100 meters world-record holder Leroy Burrell?

And Burrell, a product of Penn Wood, is just one of many former Olympians and college all-Americans who come from Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Judging by how successful this area's current crop of high school athletes are, the list should grow.

Not only are this area's track athletes the A-standard in the state, they are among the nation's premier athletes.

But we will forgive my buddy. He didn't realize that 10 area athletes and seven relays teams have top-10 national times in their respected events, according to

Abington's Leah Nugent, Lower Merion's Ben Furcht and the Central Bucks South boys' 4x800-meter relay team are the most notable ones.

Nugent has the nation's third-fastest times in the both the girls' 300- and 400-meter hurdles. The sophomore has run 41.64 seconds in the 300 hurdles. She has also run 1:00.05 in the 400 hurdles.

Furcht, a senior, has the nation's second-fastest boys' 3,000 time of 8 minutes, 24.72 seconds. Central Bucks South has the nation's third-fastest 4x800 relay time of 7:33.48.

The Titans aren't the area's lone team ranked in the top 10 in that relay race. Upper Dublin (7:40.04) is fourth. West Chester Henderson is fifth (7:42.01). North Penn (7:42.47), Penncrest (7:42.67) and Souderton (7:43.69) are sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Here's a look at some other prominent nationally ranked athletes and a relay teams from our area:

Perkiomen Valley's Jimmy Tarsnane (9:15.77) and Malvern Prep's Matthew McCullough (9:16.53) are ranked sixth and eighth, respectively, in the boys' two-mile.

Central Bucks East's Brett Millar (219 feet), Springfield-Delco's Vincent DeVernois (210 feet, 7 inches) and Central Bucks West's Matt Murdo (206-1) are fourth, eighth and ninth, respectively, in the boys' javelin.

Methacton's Carlton Lavong (24-61/2) is tied for ninth in the long jump.

Gwynedd-Mercy Academy's Taylor Bumpas (2:09.00) is tied for ninth in the girls' 800. Council Rock South's Tory Worthen (12-10) is ninth in the girls' pole vault. And Conestoga (9:09.94) is sixth in the girls' 4x800 relay.

Perhaps these 10 athletes and seven relays teams will changed Tolliver's opinion of Southeastern Pennsylvania track.

If not, forgive him. He's still a good friend.