NJ's Ajee' Wilson And Josette Andrews Win At Penn Relays

PHILADLEPHIA, Pa. -  Once again, a pair of New Jersey's biggest stars stole the show on Saturday at the 127th Prenn Relays presented by Toyota at historic Franklin Field.

Last year, it was NJ's Olympic gold medalists Sydney McLaughlin and Athing Mu that took center stage here at Penn with victories. On Saturday, it was Ajee' Wilson and Josette Andrews, who dazzled the crowd of 39,243 with sizzling wins.

Andrews, who starred at Tenafly High (Class of 2014) when her last name was Norris, smashed the meet record by winning the Olympic Development 1,500 in 4:04.88 to earn the USATF American Elite Female Athlete of the Meet award. Andrews, who runs professionally for the On Athletics Club, broke the record of 4:06.84 that was run by Julie Henner in 1996.

Then about an hour later, it was Wilson's turn as the two-time Olympian, who starred at Neptune High (Class of 2012), won the women's Olympic Development 600-meter run in 1:24.45.

Wilson turned on the jets over the final 100 meters to rally to pass Natoya Goule of Jamaica, who was second in 1:24.96.

Wilson, who won the World Indoor Championship in the 800 in 2022, is eying her third Olympic team next year. She felt the 600 was a perfect way to work on improving her turnover. 

"I'm definitely a strength-based 800 runner, but I want to get my footspeed up," said Wilson, who lives nearby in Philly. "Running races like this along with some of the training I'm doing is going to help that.''

Wilson, who holds the U.S. 800 record indoor (1:58.29 in 2020), has won six U.S. Indoor National Championship, and has captured an astounding 12 national titles overall in her legendary career. 

With all the success that Wilson, McLaughlin, Mu, Andrews, and Olivia Baker have had, Wilson was asked about the amazingly deep pool of talent that the Garden State has produced lately.   

Her response had the press cracking up. (Watch it in the video above a the 5:50 mark).

"It's always super great to see Jersey represent, especially because we get talked about so badly," Wilson said while laughing. "I don't know why. Everybody talks trash on my Jersey, but it's the best place ever.'' 

Wilson was then asked what kind of trash talk does she hear about Jersey? 

"They say its the armpit of America, call it dirty Jersey, but I say that's a term of endearment.'' 

Wilson said she's proud to be a Jersey girl.

"It's always awesome to be a part of that group, with Olivia Baker as well" Wilson said. "I'm proud to be part of the strong Jersey track class." 

Andrews, who competed for the U.S. in the 1,500 at the 2022 World Indoor Championships and was eighth in the 5K at the 2020 Olympic Trials, was asked the same question.

"There is definitely something in the water in Jersey,'' said Andrews, who is married to Olympian Robby Andrews, who starred at Manalapan High). "Seeing what Ajee', Sydney and Athing have done at the Olympics and on the world stage has definitely motivated me to make my first Olympic team. We all know each other, and we all pull for each other.    

Andrews, whose now lives and trains in Colorado, said it was extra special to win at Franklin Field.

"I ran here all through high school and in college, but this is my first time winning at Franklin Field. So, this really special for me.''

Andrews is building toward making the U.S. World Championship team.

''That's the goal, and this was a great race to build on as we continue training to hopefully make it to worlds,'' said Andrews."