Walker breaks Coval mark -- Miscount in the Mile -- US Top 5 4x800\'s. PTFCA distance report.

Walker and Bixler were generally at the front,
but Coatesville's Amin Garnett and Emmaus' Sam Luff
were in the lead pack for awhile.

The boys' mile will be talked about years from now. But it shouldn't overshadow performances that rank well in PA history, as well as nationally this season. Jacob Walker, a slight, but powerful junior from Ellwood City, has been on the radar for two years now. He ran a 9:16.41 3200 at PIAA states last spring, and for all intents and purposes, beat that with his record-breaking 8:36.83 indoor 3000, taking the six-year old STATE record from none other than Foot Locker finalist and multi-state champ Danny Coval of Council Rock (wasn't North and South, then). Saying it was "pretty much the perfect race," Walker has PRed the last three times he has run 3000, going from 8:49 at the end of January, to an 8:44 last week, to his record at States. Running a very even pace, Walker split 4:38 for the mile, and was accompanied only by Cumberland Valley junior Curtis Bixler, who had run a big PR of 8:51 two weeks earlier. Walker's strategy was to keep picking it up, but it took awhile to work. "I heard Curtis behind me the whole way, and I just kept trying to pick it up to get rid of him, and he gave me a good push." Walker hopes to race at the Penn Relays, and has set a goal of breaking 9 minutes for two miles this coming season. Walker and Bixler were generally at the front, but Coatesville's Amin Garnett and Emmaus' Sam Luff were in the lead pack for awhile. Luff would take 3rd, while Garnett was 5th behind Unionville's Colin Leak.

In the girls 3000, Lynn Morelli, who a week before had run 4:59.59 on the same track, picked up where she left off, and pushed the pace from the beginning, leading comfortably to a 10:04.41 win, and US#6. Lauretta Dezubay of Freedom, who had won the Mile in 5:03.81 earlier in the meet, showed great preparation by finishing 2nd in 10:16.56. Ten girls broke 10:43 in the deep field. Following Dezubay across the line in the mile was Strath Haven's Lisa Vienneau in 5:08.53, and then Conestoga's Liz Costello in 5:09.99 in only her third mile ever.

The boys mile was bizarre, at best. It's a zoo near the finish of any race, but the key to any distance event at 800 or above is to know where you are in laps. It's easy to lose count on a 200 meter track, but it's also critical not to.

The faux finish at 1400 meters, with Doyle running as if he knew there was another lap (there was, and he did).

The trouble started when the stadium scoreboard showed two laps to go just as the runners started their 6th of eight laps. When they passed the finish line, the bell was rung to signal one lap remaining. Reacting to the audio cue, a few of the racers started to position themselves for the final push. North Penn's Sean Doyle had been leading for a few laps, and with about 100 meters to go before 1400 meters, Central's Thurmon Sanders passed him, soon to be joined by Cedar Cliff's Tim Johnson. Doyle responded briefly, but realizing it was the next to last lap, kept his head and watched the race unfold. Sanders and Johnson sprinted to the line, believing they were done, but officials and fans alike were yelling to the runners that one lap remained. (the clock was at about 3:49 when the two crossed the line). Doyle and Springfield Montco's Matt Gillen were the only two runners who kept racing. When the others realized the error, they rejoined the race and pushed to the finish. Doyle crossed the line in 4:25.15, with Archbishop Carroll's John Savoy recovering for 2nd in 4:26.42. A few scattered boos showered the infield as fans and athletes realized what had occurred. A meeting of the appeals committee ruled that the results of the Mile would stand as reported, pending an appeal. The appeal came with only a few minutes before the results would have been declared official. When appealing, the coach making the request must also offer a remedy. The solution of the appeals committee was to offer a re-race at the conclusion the last event of the day, with those times being integrated into the earlier race results, no matter where they placed the runners. Kyle Murray of Central Bucks South and Greg Thomas of Cardinal O'Hara were the only two takers, and paced each other to a 4:30.24 and 4:30.37, giving them 8th and 9th respectively. Both times were faster than the two had run in the original race. Nice counting Sean!

The real finish.

The 800's went entirely to script. State record holder Latavia Thomas raced with the final 200 in mind, knowing she could pull away from anyone in the race. But that didn't stop Hatboro-Horsham senior Caitlin Klaas from pushing the race. She would finish 2nd in 2:15.04, just over three seconds behind Thomas, who improved her US#4 time to 2:12.00. In the boys' race, the strongest four-lapper and top seed was Justin McCarthy of Central Dauphin. He paced himself before unleashing his final drive to a 1:55.48 win. Thirteen guys broke two minutes in another display of PA's depth.

The girls 4x800 featured the defending champ Hatboro-Horsham. They had a nice streak going with the 2003 outdoor and 2004 indoor 4x800 championships, until illness and a talented Haverford Township team broke the run at outdoor states last year. So focused was a word that came to mind as this team looked to regain what they have to believe is their race. Both Engineering & Science and Gwynedd Mercy Academy had plans of their own, and after three legs, were heading for a final showdown. But Hatboro anchor Klaas was close... and close for her is too close for comfort for most other teams. She steadily pulled even with the leaders as they reached 400 meters and then put the race away to finish in 9:19.91. Gwyedd was 2nd in 9:24.49. Upper Saint Clair, racing in the 'slow' heat, took 3rd in 9:30.09, while Engineering & Science was 4th in 9:31.33. Hatboro's time is a US#5.

In the boys' 4x800, North "800 Academy" Penn was on a mission. Bonner had broken their streak of five straight PA Indoor championships. North Penn also holds the event state record of 7:52.05, set in 2002. And they ran like they own the event, racing to a 7:57.20 US#5 time. Only Germantown Academy was in the race late, and they finished at 8:01.30. So if you're counting, that's six of the last eight to North Penn.

Here are the North Penn 4x800 performances since 1998:
2005 1st 7:57.20
2004 Bonner 7:58.27 (11th 8:10.96)
2003 Bonner 8:03.18 (5th 8:07.91)
2002 1st 7:52.05 Meet Record/State Record
2001 1st 7:52.42
2000 1st 7:55.61 - first at Penn State
1999 1st 4x880 8:03.35 @ Lehigh
1998 1st 4x880 7:56.54 @ Lehigh