Southeastern Pa. Athletes to Watch at Penn Relays
Eric Futch, Penn Wood, 400-meter hurdles. The Houston-bound sprinter has a chance to truly impress in his first individual event at the carnival. He is ranked third in the race, scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday. Futch won the event at the AAU Junior Olympics with a time of 51.67 seconds in July. The winning time in last year's championship at Penn was 53.11.
Drew Magaha, Upper Moreland, boys' mile. Magaha won't be the favorite in this race, but could surprise the field if he can set a personal best. A Penn recruit, Magaha is Pennsylvania's record holder in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs. His time of 1 minute, 48.82 seconds in the 800 is the nation's top time this year. His personal record in the mile is 4:19.82. Last year's title was won in 4:10.37. The race is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.
Maria Seykora, Notre Dame, girls' mile. Seykora, who placed fifth in the event last year in 4:53.89, competes again in the most loaded race of the year. It includes two-time defending champ Angel Piccirillo (Homer City, Pa.); Ajee' Wilson (Neptune, N.J), who owns the nation's top time in the 800; and Mary Cain (Bronxville, N.Y.), one of the fastest sophomores in the country. Seykora, a Princeton recruit, was seeded 15th last year before her spirited top-five finish. The race is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.
Penn Wood boys' 4x400 relay. Futch likely will anchor the trio of Jonathan Stiles, Cristian Hunter, and Ricky Meriwether. The quartet won an indoor state championship in the event and clocked the nation's No. 2 time this winter, with a 3:17.06 race at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
Great Valley boys' distance medley relay. Two other local teams in the event, North Penn and Cardinal O'Hara, have run faster times than the Patriots this spring, but it's the presence of Nate Willig that has all eyes on Great Valley. Headed to Brown, Willig has battled shoulder problems the past two seasons. He ran for the first time in six weeks last weekend, and will run the mile anchor for the defending indoor state champs (10:23.77). Billy Wolfe will run the 1,200-meter leg; Demetrius McCary, the 400; and Matt Willig, Nate's sophomore brother, the 800. The DMR championship will be at 5:45 p.m. Friday.
Strath Haven girls' 4x800 relay. Three of the four Panthers runners (Allie Wilson, Hannah Grossman, and Kristen Miller) who claimed an indoor state championship in 9:11.71 - besting the rest of the field by more than nine seconds - will take the track at Penn. In steps Megan O'Dell, who will run leadoff for the quartet. Grossman and Wilson were part of the school's relay that placed fourth in the Championship of America last year. Preliminaries will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Swenson girls' 4x100 relay. The team of Imani Harris, Tichina Rhodes, Amy Hicks, and Amani Nesmith might have what it takes to advance to the Championship of America, but the team insists that's not its goal. The four will eye a Tri-State title first and foremost, but have a shot to compete with the very best. They clocked a 48.18-second relay at Abington last week, and that time should drop at the carnival. If they can shave a couple of seconds - not easy - they would be in the mix. The prelims will kick off at 11:10 a.m. Thursday.
- Evan Burgos