The Penn Relays will have some of the best high school teams from California, North Carolina, Jamaica, Zimbabwe and the Bahamas. The country’s long time track and field carnival will have a number of outstanding local high school teams and athletes competing at Franklin Field on Thursday, April 26, Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28.
Swenson has one of the best Public League track and field programs. The girls should be well represented at the Penn Relays. Swenson has a fine 4x400 meter relay team. The school has five terrific sprinters with Tichina Rhodes, Amani Nesmith, Imani Harris-Quillen, Jamila Davis and Amy Hicks.
“We have some real good kids on the relay teams,” said Dean Lent, Swenson head coach. “They’ve been running pretty well. We won the indoor state meet. It was a big jump up for all of them. They all did well during the indoor season. Hopefully, everything will carry over into the outdoor season.”
Several of these athletes also participate on Swenson’s 4x100-meter relay team. The school won the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays at the Jack Armstrong Invitational in Abington. In the 4x100 meter relay, Swenson finished with a winning time of 48.18. In the 4x400 meter relay, they captured first place in this event with a time of 3:55.15.
Swenson has a pretty solid boys’ 4x100-meter relay team. The team includes Tyrief Melfah, Jay Hardy, Haneef Hardy and Niager Mathis. They won the 4x100-meter relay at the Jack Armstrong Invitational.
Paul Robeson has a solid 4x400-meter relay team. They have a number of great athletes such as Quadaisha Newkirk, Erin Allen, Braxton Spriggs, Mercedes Johnson and Kevia DeLorme.
Ceaira Brown, Overbrook High’s 800 meter runner, will be one of the featured scholastic runners. Brown won the 800 meters at the Jack Armstrong Invitational with a time of 2:17.16.
Jadia Steward, West Catholic’s brilliant sprinter, won first place in the 100 meters at the same meet with a time of 12.10. Steward also won the 200 meters with a time of 25.14.
Eric Futch, Penn Wood High star, is one of the top sprinters in the Philadelphia area. Futch recently won the 400 meters and 300 meter hurdles at the invitational meet. He clocked a 48.92 and a 37.15 respectively.
It should be an interesting three days of track and field at Franklin Field.
There are a number of great high school track teams coming to the Penn Relays. Swenson Arts and Technology will be one of the scholastic teams to watch beginning April 25-27 at Penn’s Franklin Field. Swenson’s girls track and field team is loaded with talent. The Lions have a terrific 4x400 meter relay team, which features Tichina Rhodes, Amy Hicks, Markeeta Thomas and Imani Harris.
“I’m hoping we can win the Pub (Public League) and the Tri-State at the Penn Relays,” Harris said. “I’ll be running in the 4x100 (meter relay) and the 4x400 (meter relay). We have a real good team. Markeeta is our leadoff leg. She gets us our lead. I run the anchor leg. Our third leg is Tichina Rhodes. She’s very good. Amy Hicks (second leg) does a good job for us, too. We all worked together. We help each other out.”
The Lions recently clocked a 4:33.10 in the 4x400 meter relay. Rhodes will also be competing in the 400 meter hurdles. She is one of the best hurdlers in the state. A week ago, she ran a 44.00 in the 300 meter hurdles.
“I’m excited about running in the 400 meter hurdles at the Penn Relays,” Rhodes said. “This is my second time. I did it last year. That was my first time and I didn’t know what to expect. But I feel pretty good about it now. It’s really exciting. It’s the first race of the day (April 25). I’m looking forward to that race. They’re going to have a lot of good runners in that race. I’ll be there with two of my teammates, Amy Hicks and Markeeta Thomas.”
Hicks is a multi-talented track and field athlete. In addition to the 400 meter hurldes, she runs the 100 meter, long jumps and triple jumps. She’s a key member of the Lions’ 4x400 meter relay and 4x100 meter relay teams.
“It is a great experience and a honor to run in the Penn Relays,” Hicks said. “I’m a senior. This is my last year. We would like to do well. I’m going to be running in the 400 hurdles, 4x100 and 4x400 (meter relays). Mr. (Tim) Hickey (Swenson head coach) has really helped me with the hurdles and my running.”
Hickey is a long time track and field coach in the Public League. He spent 30 years coaching track at William Penn High School, winning several league championships. He is one of the top high school track coaches in the state.
“We have a good group of kids who can do a lot of different things,” Hickey said. “It’s been a unique year for the kids. They’ve all done well. Of course, Tichina, Markeeta and Amy will be running in the 400 hurdles and that’s big. It should be great down there. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Penn Relays got off to a roaring start on Thursday morning for two brilliant sprinters from Swenson Arts and Technology. Tichina Rhodes and Markeeta Thomas from Swenson both placed second in their heats for the 400-meter hurdles. It was the first high school race of the day against some of the best scholastic competition at the track and field carnival.
“It was an OK race,” Rhodes said. “I got out, but I got a little nervous to the first hurdle. After that, I just had to run. My steps were a little messed up. So, I had to run in between. But it was exciting. I’m glad I did better than last year. It was a lot of good athletes and one of those athletes was my teammates. I’m just glad we both did good.”
Thomas, like Rhodes, showcased her talents going over the hurdles. The Lions hurdler is just a sophomore. She managed to put together a strong finish.
“I’m happy,” Thomas said. “I did very good for my first time doing them. I was nervous before. I have been running the 200 hurdles since I was 13. This is my first year actually doing a longer distance for the hurdles.”
Rhodes and Thomas broke the school record in this event, which was set by Anthonia Ballard who ran 1:03.87. Ballard now runs for North Carolina Central University’s track and field team. Rhodes clocked a 1:03.29 in the 400 meter hurdles. Thomas finished with an impressive time of 1:03.54.
This was just the beginning for Swenson. The girls track team will be running in the 4x400-meter relay and the 4x100-meter relay over the next two days. The Lions 4x400 meter relay features Rhodes, Thomas and Amy Hicks and Imani Harris. The same group will run the 4x100 meter relay.
The Lions’ other track and field standout is Niager Mathis who is a magnificent sprinter. Mathis has run the 100, 200 and 400 meters. He will be a key member of the Swenson boys’ 4x100-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay teams. Swenson has run 44.94 in the 4x100 meter relay and 3:39.30 in the 4x400-meter relay this spring.
Both the boys and girls will try to win the Public League and advance to the Philadelphia Area competitionon in each relay.