Top New Jersey Performances All-Time At The Penn Relays

With the 128th running of the Penn Relays presented by Toyota less than a week away, we figured you'd like something tasty to whet your track and field appetite as you anxiously wait for the gun to go off to mark the beginning of the greatest baton-passing extravaganza in the world, which will take place at Franklin Field in Philadelphia from April 25th through the 27th.

So we invite you to join us for a jog down memory lane as we rewind the clock and relive more than 60 of the greatest performances turned in by New Jersey high school athletes and relay squads over the 127-year history of the world's largest and oldest relay meet.

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Are you really ready?

Ok, here we go!!!

On your marks.... set.........bang!!!!

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1917: Newark Central Wins NJ's First Relay Ever 

The foursome of Fred Muenster, Vince Woodruff, E. Hand (still searching for his first name), and Eddie Kunkel ran 3:32.2 to become New Jersey's first ever relay champion at the Penn Relays. Kunkel used a huge finishing kick to overcome a 25-yard deficit and win by three yards.
1959: Adams Makes History

Al Adams ran a 4:23.3 anchor leg to bring St. Michael's of Jersey City across first in the DMR in 10:36.9. Adams was named the Outstanding Athlete of the meet, the first from N.J. to ever earn that honor. The first three legs for St. Michael's were handled by Peter Gannucci, Peter Cardielio, and Ernesto Tolentino.

Photo courtesy of the Roselle Catholic

1965: Roselle Catholic's Double

The Roselle Catholic boys, coached by the legendary Frank Gagliano, became the first NJ team to win two Championship of America races (4x800/ DMR) in the same year. In the DMR, Bob Hoffman, Bill Klimas, Rich Schaffer and Mike Garvey (4:21.5) combined to win in 10:26.2. The 4x800 lineup consisted of Peter Billia (1:59.8), Jim McCue (1:59.9), Hoffman (1:57.8), and Garvey (1:56.0).

Photo courtesy of Marty Liquori

1967: Liquori's Gem Gives Essex Catholic National Record

Fifth-six years ago, Marty Liquori made up a 35-yard deficit when he dropped a 4:04.4 anchor to bring Essex Catholic across first in the Distance Medley Championship of America in 10:05.6, a meet and national record at the time. Liquori's split stood as the fastest at Penn for 30 Years until Ireland's Garreth Turnbull ran a 4:02.9 anchor in 1997.

Liquori, who also split a then meet record 1:49.5 on the runner-up 4x800 in 1967, was named the Outstanding Relay Athlete of the Meet. Liquori's 4:04.4 is currently No. 4 in meet history, and his 1:49.5 is No. 7 all-time. Liquori was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 1994, the first year it was established. 

Photo courtesy of Roselle Catholic

1970: Another Savage Anchor

Joe Savage, selected as the Outstanding High School Athlete at the 1968 Penn Relays when he ran the anchor on the winning 2-mile relay, blew up the track again when Roselle Catholic repeated that feat in 1970 with Savage running a 1:50.7y anchor. The day before that, Savage anchored the DMR in 4:12.7. Savage was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2000. The first three runners for RC in the 1970 4x800 were were Gerry Ghuzzi, Dan Maffey, and Jim Mighorini.
Photo courtesy of Keith Davis

1970: Lincoln Burns Hot Sprint Double 

Keith Davis anchored Lincoln to a then meet and state record victory in 3:15.4 in the 4x400 Championship of America. Davis also brought Lincoln's 4x100 home first in the Championship of America in a then state record 42.1. Davis was chosen as the Outstanding Relay Performer of the meet.

Joining Davis on the 4x400 for Lincoln were Sixto Dolmo (50.7), Aubrey Frierson (48.9), Larry Ross (47.5) and Davis (48.3) . Lincoln's 4x100 consisted of Charles Wells, Dolmo,  Edward Jones, and Davis.

Photo courtesy of Vince Cartier 

1971: Scotch Plains-Fanwood Captures DMR

Scotch Plains-Fanwood ran away from the field to capture the boys distance medley crown in 10:12.4, the fourth fastest time ever in the event at the time. Vince Cartier, who ran a national indoor record 4:06.6 in 1972, had a chance to break the national record (10:05.6 by Essex Catholic at the 1967 Penn Relays), if he could run 4:10, but the gusty wind and lack of competition hurt his chances. Cartier split 4:17.2.
Gary Proto put Scotch Plains-Fanwood out front with an opening 880 of 1:55.4 and Doug Tompkins followed with 49.7 seconds 440. The Raiders needed a strong three‐quarters leg, and they got it from Tim Provost, a sophomore. He ran 3:10.1 and handed Cartier a 30‐yard lead. 
A LITTLE KNOWN FACT - A few weeks after the Penn Relays, a DMR match race was set up between Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Essex Catholic at the Metuchen Relays. SPF won in 10:06.0, just missing breaking the national record by 5 tenths of a second. 

1973: Paramus Catholic Rules The DMR

Coach Mike Glynn's squad rocked the DMR, winning the Championship of America race in the pouring rain in a still-standing Bergen County record 10:07.7!!! The winning foursome for PC were Jerry Karney (3:07.2 for the 3/4 leg), Ralph Bolognese (1:58.3 for the haf-mile), Steve Kates (50.0 for 440) and Timmy Conheeney anchored in 4:12.2 as he held off Matt Centrowitz Sr., who anchored for Power Memorial of New York. Conheeney's 4:12.2 was six seconds faster than his previous mile PR! 

1974: Toms River South Wins The Boys 2-Mile Relay 

Toms River South is celebrating its 50 anniversary of winning the 2-mile relay at the Penn Relays.
Back in 1974, John Flood (1:58.7), Bob Douglas (1:59.1), John Bankston (1:57.6), and Don Grow (1:54.6) combined to give the Indians the victory in 7:50.0. They are pictured above from left to right Grow, Flood, Douglas, and Bankston. 

Photo courtesy of St. Joseph (Met.) 

1975: St. Joseph (Met.) Wins 4x800 

Mike Finlay (1:58.3), Bob Nelson (2:01.3), Mike Kelly (1:55.3), and Ian Johnston (1:52.9) of St. Joseph (Met.) finished first in the 4x800 Championship of America race in 7:48.0. Al McCafferty, the head coach who starred at Villanova, was inducted into the Penn Relays Hall of Fame in 2016.

1976: Raising The Bar

Bill Hartley of Southern became the first high school athlete to clear 16-0 in the pole vault when he made that height to finish first in 1976. Hartley was named the Outstanding Athlete of the meet for field events.
Hartley's 16-0 remained the meet record for 15 years, is now No. 9 in meet history, and he is still the only NJ vaulter to ever clear 16-0 at Penn.

1977: Feel The Byrne  

Kevin Byrne, who got the baton in 15th place, blasted a 4:04.1, No. 5 in meet history, to bring Paramus Catholic across in third in the DMR. Byrne was named the Outstanding Athlete of the meet for running events.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

1978: McKithen And Trenton Run Wild 

Forty-five years ago, Aubrey McKithen and his Trenton teammates turned in one of the greatest performances in meet history when they pulled off arguably the most amazing relay feat in NJ history at the 1978 Carnival.

The day after finishing second in the DMR, Trenton pulled off a 4x400/4x800 double the ages.

It began on Saturday morning when

He ran a 48.2 on the 4x400 and anchored the 4x800 in 1:58.6 as Trenton won both Championship of America races. That's not all! McKithen also anchored Trenton's distance medley relay, which finished second.

Trenton actually broke the meet and NJ record of 3:12.2 in their 4x400 qualifying race and then won the final in 3:13.1, as three of the runners doubled back after their meet-record breaking 7:39.5 in the 4x800. Trenton's 4x800 record stood for nine years, and the 4x400 record lasted until 1985.

The 4x400 consisted of Fred Gore (49.6), Ron Singletary (47.0), McKithen and Darrell Jeffress (47.4). The order in the 4x800 was Andy Bing (1:57.0), Gore (1:55.5),  Jeffress (1:552.), and McKithen.

 The Trenton boys were on the track again just two hours later with Ron Singletary replacing Bing in the lineup. Gore led off in 49.6, Singletary blasted the race open with a 47.0, McKithen ran 48.2 and Jeffress closed in 47.4. The result was another meet record of 3:12.2. (Both Trenton times were also state records, the 3200 mark still stands)

McKithen was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2012, and Trenton's 4x400 was inducted in 2018.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

1980: Joetta Pre-Olympics

Before she was a four-time Olympian, Joetta Clark won the 1,500 at both the 1978 and 1980 Penn Relays while running for Columbia High School. In 1978, Clark ran 5:04.4, and then in 1980 she ran 4:27.4, the eighth fastest time in meet history.

Clark went on to run on five record-setting teams for the University of Tennessee. Four times she anchored the winning 4x800 team, including a still-standing Carnival record of 8:20.22 in 1984?, and set a pair of split records in 1984. Clark was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2004.

Photo courtesy of Plainfield High School

1980-81: Plainfield Rules The 4x400 

The Plainfield girls broke the state and meet records twice in the 4x400 in 1980. The Cardinals ran 3:46.3 in its heat, and then broke the NJ and meet record again with its wining time of 3:44.3 in the Championship of America race.

Plainfield successfully defended its C of A 4x400 title by running 3:51.4 in 1981 to become the only N.J. girls team to win two C of A races in the 4x400.

In 1980, Plainfield's foursome consisted of Tracey Carter (56.4), Gayle Counts (57.0), Dorian St. Gray (55.3) and Tracy Nelson (55.6). In 1981, Lisa St. Clair (59.5), Wanda Jackson (59.3, Carter (54.8) and Nelson (57.8) shared the baton.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

1981: The Carol Lewis Show

Carol Lewis won her fourth-straight long jump title by soaring a then meet record 20-9.25, and ran on the only NJ girls team to ever win the Championship of America 4x100. Lewis was named the Most Outstanding Female High School Athlete of the meet for the second straight year.

The 20-9.25 by Lewis mark stood as the meet record for 18 years. In the 4x100, Lewis teamed with Pam Young, Monica Mayes, and Michele Glover to win in 47.63. Lewis was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2003. 

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays 

1983: Waldron's Record Sparks Bernards

Meg Waldron split a then meet record 2:08.3 to finish off a 9:03.4 victory for the Bernards girls in the 1983 Championship of America 4x800 relay. The first three legs for Bernards were handled by Tasha Knox (2:18.2), Jenny Rahn (2:19.6), and  Amy Meyer (2:17.3).

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

1983: Willingboro Edges Bernards In Epic DMR /Also Wins 4x800

Forty years later, this all-time classic still has people shaking their heads in awe.

Willingboro and Bernards had a DMR battle for the ages as both team stopped the clock at 10:00.9 to smash the meet and state records. When the dust settled, Willingboro, behind Outstanding Athlete of the Meet Vance Watson, was awarded the heart-pounding victory in one of the greatest finishes in meet history. 

Watson anchored the DMR for the Boro with a 4:08.6 carry and just outleaned John Carlotti of Bernards (4:06.4).The time of 10:00.9 stood as the meet record for 16 years. The first three legs for Willingboro were run by Jeff Bradford (3:06.2), Eric Moore (49.3), and Herb Gordon (1:56.8).

Willingboro also won the 4x800 as Bradford (1:58.5), More (1:55.9), Gordon (1:52.8), and Watson (1:53.8) combined to run 7:40.99.

1984: Wells Fuels Mounties 

Brandy Wells, who went on to play defensive back for Notre Dame and was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, anchored Montclair to the 1984 Championship of America 4x100 title. That's the last time a N.J. team has won the 4x100 at Penn. Since Montclair's victory in 1984, only five teams from the U.S. have captured the 4x100. Joining Wells on the 4x100 for Montclair were Charles Coburn, David Jones, and Anthony Swan.

1984: Smith wins 3K with big kick

Janet Smith of J.P. Stevens became the first NJ girl to ever win the 3K when she ran the final 400 in 60.0 to rally for the victory in 9:47.8. Smith was named the Outstanding High School Girls Athlete of the Meet.

1985: CBA ties In DMR Classic 

Christian Brothers and Mount St. Michael of the Bronx hooked up in classic DMR duel that was ruled a tie after both teams crossed in 10:07.9. CBA's splits were 3:07.6 for Bill Barrett, 50.5 for Rich O"Day, 1:55.9 for Jim Hickey, and 4:13.9 for Bill Kolb.

That was the first of three DM titles for CBA (1985-88-2011), which is tied with Bernards for the most by a N.J. team. Bernards won in 1979, 1984 and 1986.

1985-Smolin's 3-Peat

A three-time winner of the girls' high jump, Smolin was selected as the Outstanding High School Girls' Athlete in 1983 when she won her first championship with a meet record 5-10 ¼, and added a fourth place in the long jump. In 1984, she cleared 5-10 ½ for another meet record, which remained for six years. She won her third title in 1985 by clearing 5-10.

Smolin was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2011.

 1993: Sims Makes History

Nicole Sims of Plainfield became the first and only girl to ever win the shot put four straight years when she launched the shot 46-3.50 in 1993. Sims is one of only three athletes (boy or girl) from the U.S. to win an individual high school event four times. The other two are also from New Jersey-Carol Lewis of Willingboro in the long jump (1978-81), and Nick Vena of Morristown in the shot put (2008-11). The only other 4-time high school champ is Carlos Mattis of Kingston College in Jamaica, who won the triple jump from 2002-05.

1993: Keino Sizzles

Bob Keino of Ridgewood ran anchor splits of 1:52.6 in the 4x800 and 4:08.2 in the DMR to earn the Outstanding High School Relay Athlete of the Meet award.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

1995:  Elmuccio's Kick Gives Westfield DMR Title

Westfield sophomore Matt Elmuccio, who grabbed the baton in eighth place and five seconds behind the leader, split 4:11.5 and outkicked Alexander Greaux of Puerto Rico to bring Westfield across first in the DMR in 10:14.08. Westfield's first three legs were run by Lawrence Ho (3:15.0), John O'Brien (51.4), and Ted Kilcommons (1:56.2).

The next day, Elmuccio anchored Westfield to a fourth in the 4x800 in the Championship of America race with a 1:52.6 carry. The Penn Relays no longer allows teams to run  both the 4x800 an DMR.

DID YOU KNOW?: With its DMR title, Westfield became the first and only NJ school to win both the DMR and the 4x100. In 1978, the Blue Devils won the 4x100 when Allen Smith, Frank Kelly, Brion Gray, and Butch Woolfolk combined to run 42.11. Woolfolk went on to become a star running back at Michigan and in the NFL.

1998: Cummings Soars To Record

Carlene Cummings of Englewood soared a then meet record 42-2 3/4 to win the triple jump. Her mark stood as the state record for 15 years and the Penn Relays record for nine years. Cummings was named the Outstanding Athlete for individual events.

1998: Air Jordan

Robert Jordan of Millville cleared 7-2.25 to win the high jump, which is tied for No. 2 in meet history and tied for No. 1 among U.S. jumpers in meet history. Jordan was chosen as the Most Outstanding Athlete for individual events.

1998: Barber twins, Williams, Coppedge help Montclair Smash 2 State Records

The foursome of twins Mikele (anchor leg), Me'Lisa Barber (leadoff leg), Chantel Coppedge and Aleah Williams finished third in the Championship of America 4x400 in a then state record 3:41.03, and also placed second in the Championship of America 4x100 in 45.50, which is still the state record.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

1998: Columbia Repeats In DMR

Columbia won its second straight title in the distance medley and is still the only N.J. team to win back-to-back DMR Championships. Led by anchor and Outstanding Athlete of the meet Dara Crocker, Columbia crossed the line first 12:00.67.

Columbia's splits in the '98 race were 3:42.5 for Natalie Deffenbaugh, 58.6 for Bridgette Ingram, 2:18.2 for Amina Zohny, and 5:01.4 for Crocker. In 1997, Deffenbaugh (3:37.1), Ayana Coleman (57.4), Shauna McFadzean (2:20.4) and Crocker (5:01.4) combined to win in 11:55.75. 

1999: Willingboro Wins 4x400

During a torrential downpour, Willingboro's Takia Canty (57.5), Shakira Rutherford (54.5), Latasha Taylor (57.2), and Danielle Myrick (56.5) combined to win the 4x400 Championship of America in 3:45.74. No NJ girls team has won the 4x400 since.
1999 Campbell Strikes Again 

Murad Campbell of Overbrook won his second straight 3,000 title in 1999, and he's just one of four runners to win the the race twice. His winning time of 8:22.89 in '98 was the fastest ever run by a New Jersey runner at the Penn Relays until Devin Hart of Point Pleasant Boro ran 8:22.24 to win in 2018. N.J. has won this race nine times since it began in 1965.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

2001: Donohue's Dominance

Erin Donohue of Haddonfield won the mile in 4:54.15 as a senior in 2001, and then went on to become only one of four American women to capture Penn Relays championships at the high school, college and professional levels.

In total, Donohue has eight wins at Penn- the high school mile, five distance relays with the University of North Carolina, and the invitational mile twice. Donohue, a 2008 U.S. Olympian in the 1,500, was part of all three wins when UNC pulled off the distance triple in 2003.

Donohue was a member of the Penn Relays Wall of Fame Class of 2020. Since that meet was cancelled, she was honored along with the rest of the Wall of Fame Class of 2020 at 2022 meet.

2001: Ruff And Camden Rock Philly

Camden's Dwight Ruff won the 400 hurdles in a still-standing meet record 50.47, the state record at the time, and he also split 47.2 on Camden's Championship of America winning 4x400 team that ran 3:11.30, the state record at the time. The other three legs on Camden's 4x400 were Maurice Young (49.3), Jade Smith (47.5) and John Morris (47.3).

Later that year, Ruff dropped his state record down to 50.37 in the 400 hurdles, which wasn't broken for 14 years, and he ran on Camden's 4x400 that ran 3:09.91, which still stands as the state record. 

2003: Miles Electrifies In Air And On Track

Anthony Miles of Winslow won the long jump with a 24-6.50, and led Winslow's 4x100 and 4x400 teams to second-place finishes in the Championship of America races. Miles, the last NJ boy to win the LJ at Penn, was chosen as the Most Outstanding Athlete of the Meet in the individual events.

2003: Red Bank's Redemption

Red Bank, which finished second to Boys and Girls of Brooklyn, N.Y in the DMR in 2002, came back to win the distance medley Championship of America in 2003 in 11:46.59. Amanda Trotter (3:34.6 for 1,200), Beth Mayer (61.8), Christina Nelson (2:20.3) and Katy Trotter (4:49.0 for 1,600) shared the baton.

2004: McCoy's Magic 

Reuben McCoy split 46.0 on the anchor leg to finish off a 3:13.71 victory in the boys 4x400 Championship of America for Winslow. McCoy was named the Most Outstanding Athlete for relay events.

The first three legs for Winslow were run by Keith Tharington, Frank Jackson, and Brandon Grantham. 

2007: Higginson goes back to back 

Ashley Higginson of Colts Neck became first and only girl from New Jersey to win the Penn Relays 3,000 two straight years when she won in 9:37.91, No. 9 in Penn Relays history at the time and No. 2 in state history at the time.

2007: Forys Finishes With A Fury

Craig Forys of Colts Neck, who got the baton in ninth place and 100 meters behind the leader, split 4:04.2, No. 6 in meet history, to rally his team to a second place finish in the DMR, just .50 behind Coatesville of Pa.

Photo courtesy of Southern Regional

2007: Southern Rolls 

Jillian Smith (3:33.5), Jessica Bergin (60.0), and Chelsea Cox (2:21.3) built a big lead, and Danielle Tauro finished it off with a 4:50.7 anchor to bring Southern across first in the DMR in 11:45.54. 

2008: Upset Special

Roxbury scored a huge upset when Lauren Penney (3:37.8), Mary Migton (59.8), Ariann Neutts (2:10.0), and Ashley Cromartie (4:54.6) combined to win the DMR in 11:42.16, No. 9 in Penn Relays history. Jillian Smith of fourth-place Southern, the defending champs, ripped a 4:42.2 anchor carry, the fastest high school girls split in meet history at the time. Smith's record stood for eight years.

2009: Morris Hills vs. Albemarle 

Morris Hills ran under the U.S. national record at the 115th Penn Relays, but didn't win despite its blazing time of 7:31.60 as it placed second to Albemarle of Virginia in what at the time was called the greatest high school 4x800-meter relay race ever.

Albemarle anchor Anthony Kostelac, who ran 1:49.33, outkicked Liam Tansey of Morris Hills over the final 200 meters to bring Albemarle across the line first in 7:30.67 in front of 47,904 sun-drenched fans. Albemarle and Morris Hills both ran under the then U.S. national record of 7:32.89, set in 2002 by Auburn of Washington, and shattered the meet record of 7:35.89. 

Morris Hills shaved nearly eight seconds off the N.J. record of 7:39.54 that was set in 2005 by Colts Neck. Morris Hills' four runners in the C of A race were seniors Vinny Chiusano (1:55.3), Lucas Clyne (1:52.2), Sean Pohorence (1:53.5) and Tansey (1:50.65). Liam Hendrickson NJ ?? ran a leg in the 4x800 qualifying race the day before.  

2010: Schellberg Rocks The Mile

Pat Schellberg of Delbarton won the mile in a then-meet record 4:08.07. Schellberg was named the Outstanding Athlete of the meet for individual events. His meet record lasted three years.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

2011: King Of The Ring 

Nick Vena of Morristown won his fourth straight shot put title with a 72-9.25, the state and meet record at the time. Vena is still the only high school boy to win the same event four years in a row at Penn, and he finished his a career with a state record 75-10.25.

Vena, a 2-time Outstanding Field Event Athlete of the Meet award winner, held the Penn Relays record until 2016 when Adam Geist of Knox High School in Pennsylvania won with a throw of 73-0.75. Geist broke the meet record again in 2017 with a 74-9.

Vena will be inducted into the prestigious Penn Relays Wall of Fame this year.   

2012: King Chez

Junior Edward Cheserek was in ninth place and 10.1 seconds behind the leader (George Kelly of CBA) before splitting 4:06.2 to rally St. Benedict's Prep to the DMR victory in 10:07.76. Cheserek was chosen as the Outstanding Male Athlete of the meet for relay races. The first three legs for St. Benedict's were run by Darien Edwards (3:09.2), Naija Omari (487), and Kalonji Foster (2:03.7). 

2012: Mattis Repeats 

Sam Mattis of East Brunswick, a 2020 US Olympian, won the boys discus for the second straight year with a 211-11, the No. 6 throw in meet history and the No. 1 throw among U.S. athletes in meet history. Mattis, still the state record holder in the discus (218-4), was chosen as the Outstanding High School Boys Athlete of the Meet for individual events.

2013: Malone's Big Mile

Although Ben Malone of Pascack Valley didn't win the mile, his runner-up time of 4:05.59 is still the second fastest in meet history and is now No. 5 in NJ history. Only Marty Liquori (Essex Catholic), Edward Cheserek (St. Benedict's),  Robby Andrews (Manalapan), and Sean Dolan (Hopewell Valley) have run faster than Malone in the mile in NJ outdoor history.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays 

2013: Clark Twins Go Sub 1:50

Jacob Clark anchored Pleasantville to the boys 4x800 Championship of America title with a 1:49.17 split, a virtual tie with the great Alan Webb (1:49.1 in 2001) for the second fastest split in Penn Relays history.

Pleasantville, which won the race in 7:40.71 over defending champion Westfield of Virginia (7:41.84), became the first champion from N.J. in the boys 4x800 since Willingboro in 1983.
The first three three legs for Pleasantville were run by Dagoberto Arias (1:58.17), Isaac Clark (1:49.57-No. 8 in meet history), and Radcliffe Narinensingh (2:03.82).

2013: Oliva "The Baconator'' Baker - Part 1

Columbia junior Olivia "The Baconator'' Baker, faced with a deficit of nearly seven seconds, completed a breathtaking anchor leg when she ran down Ashanni Robb of two-time defending champion Edwin Allen of Jamaica with about 50 meters left and brought the Cougars across the line first in the 4x800 Championship of America race in 8:56.37. Baker split 2:09.90. The first three legs were handled by Kenya Gaston (2:18.1), Imani Coleman (2:13.2), and Shanika Dessin (2:15.2).

Columbia became the first NJ team to win the 4x800 at Penn since Bernards captured the title in 1983.

2014: Oliva "The Baconator'' Baker - Part 2

Olivia "The Baconator" Baker did it again!!!

This time, the senior topped what she did the year before with an electrifying2:02.55 on the anchor meet record split of 2:02.55 on the anchor to bring Columbia from way back to first-place for the second straight year!!! Columbia won with a state record time of 8:45.37, No. 2 in U.S. high school history. Baker was named the Most Outstanding Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year.

The first three legs for Columbia were run by Aigner Bobbitt (2:17.21), Imani Coleman (2:11.82), and Emilie Cowan (2:13.79). Baker and Coleman also ran on the winning 4x800 in 2013.

2014: Air Orji

Before Keturah Orji became the greatest women's triple jumper in U.S. history, she won the TJ at Penn as a senior at Mount Olive by leaping a wind-aided 43-10.25, the top jump in meet history. Orji, the American record holder in the TJ and a two-time U.S. Olympian, was chosen as the Outstanding Athlete of the Meet for individual events.

2015: Dunbar Breaks State And Meet Record

Junior Nickolette Dunbar of Whippany won the shot put by unloading a 50-8, which was the meet and state record at the time. Dunbar's 50-8 smashed the 35-year-old record of 50-0.75 set un 1985 by Elaine Sobansky of Trinity in Pa. 

2016: Wilson Smashes Records In Shot 

For the second straight year, the state and meet records were broken in the girls shot put. This time, it was junior Alyssa Wilson of Donovan Catholic who took center stage in the circle.

Wilson sent the shot 51-6.50 for the win to break the state and meet records that Nickolette Dunbar of Whippany Park set the year before. Dunbar finished second with a 50-8, and Westwood's Jess Molina broke the Bergen County record with a 48-0 to complete the 1-2-3 NJ sweep.

2016: Syd The Kid, Part 1 

Union Catholic junior Sydney McLaughlin, who would make the US Olympic team a few months later at the age of 16, split 52.15, the eighth fastest time in meet history, when she passed two teams and led Union Catholic to third-place and the top-American finish in 3:42.59. 

Photo courtesy of the Penn Relays

2017: Syd The Kid, Part 2 

Sydney McLaughlin passed three teams and ran the fastest 400 split in meet history (50.37) to bring Union Catholic across the line third in 3:38.92 in the 4x400 Championship of America. To put that into further context, only nine collegians have run a faster split at the Penn Relays. 

McLaughlin, who last summer smashed the world record when she struck gold in the 400 hurdles at the Olympics in Tokyo, broke her own record of 50.78 that she set the day before in the heats. McLaughlin, who took more than a second off the previous record of 51.5 by Chrisann Gordon of Holmwood Tech in 2013, was named the Girls High School Athlete of the Meet for relay events.

Khamil Evans, Amaya Chadwick and Cassandra Lamadieu all ran personal bests for UC before handing off to McLaughlin in the final.

2017: Big Shot

Senior Alyssa Wilson of Donovan Catholic, who broke her own meet record in the shot put with a still-standing record of 53-7, was named the Outstanding Athlete of the Meet for field events. As a sophomore, Wilson recorded the top-American finish in the discus before winning two straight titles in the shot put. 

Wilson, who finished her high school career as the greatest thrower in NJ history with state records in the shot and discus,  went onto have All-American careers at UCLA, and then at Texas State. 

2017: Poole Ends Drought

New Jersey didn't have a champion on the track for two years before Cory Poole won the 2017 title in the 400 hurdles. After finishing second in 2016, Poole ran 50.71, the third fastest time in meet history. Poole also led East Orange to the top-American finish in the 4x400 Championship of America with a 46.83 anchor leg.

Later in the season, Poole set the still-standing state record in the 400 hurdles of 50.14. 

Photo courtesy of Hopewell Valley 

2018: DMR Masterpiece

Hopewell Valley's Teddy Meredith (3:02.69), Amos Barnes (50.96), Tim Dolan (1:56.56), and Sean Dolan (4:07.57) won the Championship of America DMR race and broke the meet record by stopping the clock at 9:57.77!  The old record of 9:59.66 was set in 2001 by South Lakes of Virginia, which was anchored by the legendary Alan Webb.

Steve Dolan, Tim and Sean's father, is the Director of Track and Field for the University of Pennsylvania and serves as the Meet Director of the Penn Relays. 

2018: Hart Of A Champion

Devin Hart of Point Pleasant Boro became the fastest 3K runner ever at Penn when he won that race in 8:22.24. Hart is the first winner of the Garden State since Murad Campbell of Overbrook won his second straight title in 1999. Campbell's winning time of 8:22.89 in '99 was the fastest NJ time run at Penn before Hart. 

2019: Iron Man
At the age of 92, the great Ed Grant, NJ's legendary track and field journalist and historian, extended his amazing run to 74 straight appearances at the Penn Relays when he climbed his way up to the press section at Franklin Field in 2019. That's a streak that's just as impressive as Cal Ripken's.

With the cancellation of the Penn Relays in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the 2019 meet turned out to be the final Penn Relays for Grant, who passed away on May 4, 2021 at the age of 94. Here is our feature that chronicles Grant's remarkable life and his contributions to the sport  
Photo by Kyle Brazeil of MileSplit

2022: Perez smashes record

Angelina Perez wasn't sure if she would make it to the starting line for the 3,000 meter race at the 126th Penn Relays.

The distance running dynamo from Lakeland Regional High School (NJ) was very congested and was debating whether or not her body was she ready to race at the level she's accustomed to.

But just minutes before the gun was scheduled to go off, Perez convinced herself to give it shot and just do the best she could ... to see what happens.

What happened was the greatest 3K performance in New Jersey history and one of the best in Penn Relays history as Perez capped off an electrifying performance by stopping the clock in a US No. 1 time of 9:18.11.

That broke the NJ record of 9:20.98 that was set by Charlotte Bednar of Lawrenceville, and was No. 3 in Penn Relays history. 

2022: Vikings win elusive wheel
After coming agonizingly close to winning a wheel multiple times in the past, Union Catholic, one of the greatest programs in NJ history, finally captured the coveted wheel when sophomore Jimmy Wischusen, senior Nick Givan, senior Myles Plummer, and senior Shane Brosnan combined to win the Distance Medley Championship of America race in 10:14.42.  Brosnan held off a furious charge by Devan Kipyego, who brought St. Raphael (RI) across second in 10:15.21. Kipyego, who got the baton in eighth place, split 4:04.35!

UC splits were 3:11.44 for Wischusen, who was racing for the first time since the Union County Indoor Relays on January 8 due to a hip impingement, 49.77 for Givan, 1:58.05 for Plummer, and 4:15.21 for Brosnan.

2022: Woods, Bethea, Foster score wins in the field 

Facing wind she called, "the worst I've ever seen,'' Nicole Woods of Demarest easily outclassed the field to become just the second New Jersey athlete to win a Penn Relays title in the girls javelin (Amy Krilla of Red Bank Catholic won in 2001. Woods, now a freshman at Princeton University, sent a line-drive final throw 141-3 (43.05m) to win by almost two meters.

Senior Faith Bethea of Snyder, competing with a heavy heart as she was thinking about her late coach Robert Arena (he passed away at the age of 36 on Oct. 18, 2021), soared to a 40-5.50 on her second attempt to win the girls triple jump. Bethea is the first girl ever from Hudson County to win an individual title at the Penn Relays. 

After fouling on first two attempts in the long jump, Greg Foster of Lawrenceville played it safe when he leaped 22-7.50 to move into the final round in fourth place. With new life, Foster started hitting his mark in the finals, and finally got the big jumps he knew he was capable of. After moving into second place with a 23-5.25 on his fourth attempt, he soared 24-11 on his fifth attempt to take the lead for good.

Photo by Comstock for MileSplit

2023: Chatham Boys, UC Girls Sweep 4x800

Ryan Beegle was running out of track. Ainsley Campbell was running out of gas.

So with the finish line fast approaching at Franklin Field and the scent of blood in the water, Beegle, a senior at Chatham, put his head down and dug down deep to make one final expulsive charge in Friday's 4x800 Championship of America race at the 127th Penn Relays presented by Toyota.

With the rain soaked crowed in an absolute frenzy as he closed the gap with each stride, Beegle pulled even with the staggering anchor from Kingston College in Jamaica inches from the finish, and then lunged across the line as he willed his way past Campbell before spreading his arms out in jubilation as he hit the tape, giving Chatham the heart-pounding and improbable stunning upset victory, 7:47.66 to 7:47.68, in a finish for the ages.

Chatham is the first U.S. team to win the 4x800 at Penn since Pleasantville (NJ) finished first in 2013, ending Jamaica's seven-year winning streak. Chatham is also the first boys team ever from Morris County to win a C of A race at Penn. The Roxbury girls, the DMR champ in 2008, is the only other Morris County team to win a C of A race.

Beegle's epic finish completed a red hot 1:52.47 anchor carry, and it touched off a wild celebration as Beegle was mobbed by teammates Charles Henne, Adam Petitjean, and Leo Valenzuela, who hugged and danced in the rain drops on the trac

In many ways, the game plan was simple for the Union Catholic girls in the Championship of America 4x800.

Match defending champion Edwin Allen of Jamaica on every leg. 

What's more, though, the Vikings were chasing after a high school national record. 

And so, with the stakes high, the pressure on and their chance to make history in clear sight, the Vikings went after it. 

Their race couldn't have gone better. 

Senior Maameyaa Nyinah (2:12.30), freshman Jimmiea King (2:12.20), senior Kaleigh Gunsiorowski (2:10.76), and junior Peyton Hollis (2:09.73) put together a special performance, dropping a US No. 2 all-time among 8:44.98, which smashed the New Jersey state record The 8:44.98 is just short of the national record of 8:43.12, which was last set in 2008 by Eleanor Roosevelt of Maryland at the Penn Relays. Edwin Allen, who won the previous two CoA races in 2019 and 2022, was a distant second in 8:58.83. 

The anchor carry by Hollis earned her the Most Outstanding High School Female Athlete of the Meet for relay races.