With about 300 meters left in the opening leg of the high school girls’ 4×800-meter Championship of America relay race at Friday’s Penn Relays, Neumann-Goretti sophomore Kami Joi Hickson knew it was time to make her move.

Hickson had trailed her Holmwood Tech counterpart until it came time to strike.

"I knew that if I just extended my stride I'd be able to pick up my pace," Hickson said. "I know my own strengths, and I knew I'd have enough strength to sustain the last part of the race."

To raucous cheers from the Saints' faithful, Hickson passed Delverna Bromfield of defending champion Holmwood Tech with about 150 meters left.

"I was very focused, but it was kind of like an adrenaline rush," Hickson said. "The feeling that you finally have the lead, and you know you're really helping out your team was a great feeling."

The Jamaican Holmwood Tech team eventually overtook the field and claimed first place with a time of 8 minutes, 48.33 seconds.

But Hickson (2:12.92 split) and the Saints finished second in 8:57.09, besting their goal of nine minutes flat and setting a school record.

Friday was the first time the four girls — Hickson, fellow sophomore Mykala Perry (2:11.51), junior Dasia Wilson (2:17.32) and senior Sydni Townsend (2:15.36) — ran together in the 4×800 in a real competition.

Shenendehowa finished third in 9:03.62, and Strath Haven was ninth in 9:18.30.

"I know we're a team that works really hard and has each other's back," Hickson said. "And I think sometimes we psych ourselves out and don't really know how great of a team we are. But I think the U.S. No. 1 time is very humbling, and it's a blessing."

South Jersey girls take third and fourth

The Winslow Township  and Rancocas Valley girls' teams took third and fourth, respectively in the girls' 4×100 Northeast relay, which featured the nine-fastest teams that didn't qualify for the Championship of America race.

Winslow Township's team of Janeya Hammond, Flora Ahiarakwe, Nyiah Perry and Shakira Dancy finished in 48.25 seconds, while Kristina Tossas, Breccain McClenahan, Darynn Minus-Vincent and Aliyah Taylor finished in 48.50 for Rancocas Valley.

In the boys' javelin, Mainland's Kobe Roberts took third with a throw of 199 feet, 10 inches. Coatesville's Ricky Ortega was eighth at  183-10.

In unfortunate turn on the Rancocas Valley boys' side, senior javelin star Nick Mirabelli was unable to compete due to the flu.

Coach Jeff Dzuranin said Mirabelli was disappointed and that the Texas A&M commit wanted to push through. But the coaching staff decided it was in his best interest not to throw on Friday. He was the third seed going in after throwing 220-10.

Coatesville’s crew

Coatesville’s’ 4×100 Northeast relay team finished second. The four juniors are (from left) Porsha Miles, Arianna Eberly, Jordyn Worthington and Sammie Miller.
Coatesville’s’ 4×100 Northeast relay team finished second. The four juniors are (from left) Porsha Miles, Arianna Eberly, Jordyn Worthington and Sammie Miller.

Porsha Miles, Arianna Eberly, Jordyn Worthington and Sammie Miller have been chasing the top spot in Pennsylvania's 4×100 relay races for years — since seventh grade to be exact.

The group of juniors at Coatesville all went to Scott Middle School and have been competing together in 4×100 relays ever since.

Friday afternoon, in their fifth Penn Relays, they finally nabbed No. 1 in the state. The group finished second in the Northeast 4×100 in 48.17, behind only New York's Rush-Henrietta team that finished in 47.91. Perennial power Cheltenham finished fifth at 48.36.

The Coatesville crew said they won the 4×100 in middle school as eighth graders, but Friday was even more special.

"It felt a lot better because we've been working hard," Worthington said, "so it feels good to finally get there after so long."

Eberly added: "We were just trying to be Pennsylvania No. 1."

Though none of the teammates knows which college they might attend, the group is likely to break up at some point.

For now, they'll enjoy the time they have together.

"I think it's great that we all know each other so well," Miller said, "because we can be hard on each other, push each other, and we're best friends who tell each other everything. So it's really great."

Tough luck

Another bad break broke in the direction of Germantown Academy senior Kyle Garland, one of the nation's top decathletes.

Garland finished seventh, just as he did last season. This time, however, came with a bit of bad luck.

On his second attempt at 6 feet, 6 3/4 inches, Garland, a Georgia commit, cleared the bar but clipped it on his way down before landing on the mat. The bar bounced slightly up and down as he dismounted the mat and eventually fell off the posts seconds after he rose and left the mat.

Garland's supporters, seated in the lower bowl right in front of the mat, disapproved as an official raised a red flag, signifying a missed attempt.

The supporters contended a jump should stand if the competitor dismounted the mat before the bar fell.

Garland, a two-time New Balance Nationals indoor pentathlon champion, later said an official told him whether he was on or off the mat, if he caused the bar to fall it's considered a miss.

Minutes later, he also missed his third and final attempt.

"It happens," he said. "Stuff happens. I just have to learn from those types of experiences and just be able to bounce back in my next competition."

He added: "I still can't make excuses. Some days you have good days, and some days you have bad days. Today just wasn't my best day."