Central Bucks South at the Penn Relays: Taking a Back Road to the Award Stand

Central Bucks South at the Penn Relays:
Taking a Back Road to the Award Stand.

By Lex Mercado

Central Bucks South’s 4x800 meter relay was the big story of the 2009 season. Every time they stepped on the track, you could expect that something big was going to happen. From finishing 3rd at the Penn Relays Championship of America behind the two best all time performances, to winning the PIAA AAA championship with a state record time of 7:33.48, that relay left its mark as the best in state history. Now it’s 2010, and C.B. South is at it again…in the 4x100 meter relay.

That is not a typo. With the reputation the team established last year combined with most eyes on teams like Cheltenham’s 4x400 meter relay and Abington’s 4x800 meter relay, C.B. South showed up to the 2010 Penn Relays and made noise once again, winning the 4x100 large school championship race with a time of 42.22, and defeated a field that featured several of PA’s best. The relay accomplished two things. First, it made the award stand, something the 4x800 did not do at the Penn Relays last year, and they stunned many by showing their team depth.

Photo on left by Tim Fulton, ArmoryTrack.com

The victory came from a group that had a hard time just getting on the track last year because they were struggling to get healthy all at the same time. “Our entire 4x1 has been working together since last year, but legs were changed more regularly last year due to a few injuries,” said C.B. South sprint coach Jason Gable.

But since the indoor season, everyone has managed to stay healthy, which had allowed the group to really focus. “With everyone healthy, we finally settled on a set order and focused on all the little parts of the sprint relay,” said Gable.

A 4th place finish at the PTFCA Indoor State Championships in the 4x200 was a sign that the team was going in the right direction. The ability for the relay to stay healthy all season gave the group of R.L. Knuckles, Yacine Zerdoum, Tyler Dougherty, and Jon Eisemann the chance to develop chemistry as a relay. “These four guys are probably the closest we have ever had on a sprint relay team,” stressed Gable. “During practice they are constantly pushing and challenging each other.”

In a sport where many teams are divided into their respective specialties for the majority of the season, every part of the track team was involved in the development of this group. Coach Gable creates a workout where all three relay teams (4x1, 4x4, and 4x8) combine and do interval workouts together.

“The teamwork and camaraderie are there, but they are also intensely competitive with each other which creates a nice healthy balance,” said Gable. “They fully understand that it is not about the individual, but the collective unit.” With that kind of support and motivation, combined with seeing what last season’s historic 4x800 relay achieved, the 4x100 was ready for the big stage of the Penn Relays.

Despite early success in the relay (42.30 on March 27), with the atmosphere of the Penn Relays, being a good team doesn’t necessarily spell automatic success. “Penn can be tricky with the time spent in the paddock, no blocks for trials, and quick moving heats,” said Gable. “So we were just focusing on getting clean handoffs and improving our time for districts.”

Photo by Don Rich, PennTrackXC.com  

With Brady Gehret and Altoona in the final, many of the 54,000+ fans in attendance were looking to see how Gehret would follow up a 46.1 400 split earlier in the day. But by the time Gehret got the baton, C.B. South was already leading the way towards a season best and a Penn Relays title. It surprised many, but in Gable’s eyes, they performed exactly the way he knew they could. “Each leg is improving their own individual portion and our team time is improving at the rate we have been anticipating this season.”


How nice was the Penn Relays win? “It definitely was very cool to win at Penn Relays,” said Gable.

It’s pretty cool to surprise everyone and show your depth at the biggest relay carnival around.