A who’s who of nationally ranked relay teams from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania squared off against one another at the 103rd Millrose Games. While the boys and girls high school mile events and Bernard Lagat’s historic Wannamaker Mile win attracted most of the attention from fans, it was the 4x400 and 4x800 meter relays that produced the closest finishes and highest drama. In all, more than 40 nationally-ranked teams raced. Below is a race-by-race recap (national ranks in parenthesis):
CHSAA Boys’ 4 x 800m Relay
Winner: St. Anthony’s (14th)
In one of the longest running high school events at the Millrose Games, St. Anthony’s won for the first time since 1980, in 8:13.44. Heading into the anchor leg, St. Anthony’s was trailing by 20 meters. On the final leg Payton Hazzard fell to fourth with about 400 meters left when Kellenberg and Chaminade flew by. Hazzard recovered on the final lap with a wide move on the first turn and gapped the field by two seconds in the last 120 meters. Chaminade (18th) finished second in 8:15.27 and Kellenberg (19th) finished third in 8:15.87.
Girls 4x800m Relay
Winner: Garden City (13th)
Running without one of its top 800 meter runners, Emily Menges, Garden City upset the second- and fifth-ranked relay teams in the country, winning comfortably in 9:22.66. Bronxville, which came into the meet ranked second, were runners up in 9:24.57. In third was Northshore (5th), in 9:24.67.
Garden City’s relay team, which doesn’t have a single cross country runner, led for all but the second leg, run by Jenna DeAngela, who admitted she lost count of the number of laps she had run. It was a common complaint among the high school runners. “The weird distance threw everyone off,” said anchor leg Michelle Rotondo. “It’s hard to judge when to go.”
Notably absent was St. John Villa Academy, the top-ranked girls 4x800 meter relay team in the country. Earlier this year, they ran 9:12.85. According to head coach Mike Proffitt, meet officials didn’t allow St. John Villa to compete in the race because they belonged to the CHSAA, which had its own relay, the 4x400 race.
High School Boys 4x800 meters
Winner: Abington (8th) - 8:01.00
In last year’s Nike Outdoor National, running under the club team Glenside Track Club in the Nike Outdoor Nationals, Abington finished 5th in 7:45.69 but they were perhaps overlooked coming into their race at the Garden. On the second leg, however, Charles Ross ran one of the fastest splits of the day, 1:56.3, to gap a stacked field and Abington never looked back. They won in 8:01.00 and won comfortably over the two top-ranked relay teams in the country, CBA, which finished second in 8:06.22 and Haddonfield, which finished third in 8:08.68.
Despite his team’s dominating performance, coach Brian Deck wasn’t overly impressed. “We thought we could win this but we didn’t run a great race,” Deck said. “We were surprised we weren’t pushed more.”
Haddonfield came into the race at less than 100 per cent, according to their star senior, Jonathan Vitez. He said that the team’s anchor leg had a foot injury and had to take time off the last couple weeks. “He’s probably not as fit as he liked to be,” Vitez said. “He was debating whether or not to run, but you can’t pass up running here.”
Girls CHSAA 4x400m:
Winner: St. Anthony’s (10th)
Anchor leg Alicia Williams took the baton from teammate Olivia Abbate in second with a lot to make up. Abbate passed a pack of girls to get St. Anthony’s in a position to win and Williams was left to finish the job. “I told myself ‘we got this. I’m passing Kellengberg. Case closed.’” St. Anthony’s won convincingly 4:01.07 over Kellengberg, which finished in 4:05.07.
Winner: Benjamin Cardozo (1st)
In what was the most stacked field of entrants in the entire meet, Benjamin Cardoz0 narrowly edged Medgar Evers (2nd), 3:53.19 to 3:53.21. In third was Boys & Girls (26th), finishing in 4:03.84. Dewitt Clinton, ranked sixth, was a victim of a physical first leg and finished a disappointing fourth. After its rough start, head coach Cornell Johnson said it set the tone for the race and made it hard for them to get back in it.
PSAL Boys 4x400m
Winner: Boys & Girls
Only .10 seconds separated first place Boys & Girls and third place Medgar Evers in the closest finishe of the day. Boys & Girls won in 3:32.27, followed by Midwood in 3:32.36 and Medgar Evers in 3:32.37. The race was close the whole way and each leg was physical in jockeying for position on the narrow lanes of Millrose’s wooden boarded track.