Braheme Days Jr. had just won the high school boys' shot put at the Penn Relays with a throw of 68 feet, 81/2 inches, and all he wanted to do was show off the watch he got for winning the title.
"I figured you guys wanted to see it," Days said with a laugh.
The Bridgeton junior, who had earned the top seed for Friday's championship, became the sixth straight New Jersey champion in the event at Franklin Field.
"Penn Relays are awesome," Days said. "I came here last year; I competed, and didn't do too well. Came here my freshman year, didn't compete, I just came to watch. Anytime you hear the name Penn Relays, it's always going to be a good competition. It just has that kind of aura around it."
Days' previous season-best put went for 66-1/4 at the Woodbury Relays, more than two feet short of what he registered on Friday.
"I think if you prepare correctly and have the right mind-set coming into it, you won't feel too much pressure," Days said. "If you come out and compete the way you are supposed to, you'll feel good."
For Days, that meant going hard in warm-ups, as he threw for more than 65 feet more than once before the event officially started. Days threw more than 68 feet twice and beat the second-place finisher by more than three feet.
"I had to force myself to produce a season best," Days said.
Cherokee advances. Friday morning, Cherokee coach Chris Callinan realized his youngsters might not run as fast as he was expecting them. But despite the dreary weather, the Cherokee boys in the 4x800-meter relay ran the third-fastest overall time.
"I was hoping to run a little bit quicker, but in watching the heats before us, it became pretty apparent that with the wind and the chill of the day, things just weren't going to be fast," Callinan said.
Colin Merrigan, Drew Viscidy, Ross Staudt, and Shawn Wilson finished second in their heat with a time of 7:53.30, good enough for them to advance to Saturday's Championship of America race.
"With weather like that, you take ultimate time goals and throw them out the window," Callinan said. "Place will supersede time, anyway."
The Chiefs got off to a fast start, with Merrigan giving the quartet a solid lead. Saturday's title race will be at 4 p.m., and the weather conditions don't look much more promising.
The race "may change a little bit; you may not be in the lead when you get the stick," Callinan said. "If we have a shot at winning, we have to give it to Drew with the lead."
Oakcrest also moves on. At last year's Penn Relays, Justin Veltri watched from the stands as his teammates just missed the cut to advance in the 4x100 relay.
This year, the Oakcrest senior ran the first leg of the same race, helping the quartet advance to Saturday's Championship of America.
Fellow seniors Reggie Marton, Darnel Charles, and Fabian Santiago made up the rest of the squad that posted a time of 42.06 seconds to win its heat. It was the sixth-best time in the prelims for large schools.
Saturday's race is set to start at 1:57 p.m. The Falcons are the lone representative from New Jersey in the event.
"I'm just the new guy filling it," Veltri said. "It's easy to hand him [Marton] the stick and let him do the work. All I do is try to beat the guy in front of me."
It was only the second time all year that Veltri, Marton, Charles, and Santiago competed in this event together, with Veltri battling injuries as recently as the Woodbury Relays last week.
"We just have had to practice a lot and our chemistry is good, so getting the stick around the track is kind of easy," Marton said.