Hopewell squads performs well at Penn Relays

Track & Field

By: Steve Feitl
   With an event as prestigious as the Penn Relays, it’s no excuse to say it’s an honor to just be there.
   And in the case of the Hopewell Valley Central High School track and field teams, both coaches were pleased not just with their respective teams’ performances, but with the opportunity to showcase their talents against some of the best in the country.
   And the event wasn’t without its HoVal highlights.
   The girls team set another HVCHS record — this time in the 4×400 relay. Jessie Pall, Natalie Mapp, Kristen Mapp and Kate Willever turned in an impressive 3:59.31. It beat out the time of 4:06 set last year.
   It was also impressive because everyone ran sub-one minute, breaking the four-miute mark — which girls coach Mike Hammill referred to as the benchmark in the event.
   "To break four minutes is tough," he said. "It was kind of cold on that day and we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to do it. But it was an incredible race. We won our heat and a big plaque."
   In the 4×100, the Lady Bulldogs just missed moving on to the "small schools’ race." Instead, the HoVal squad of Fallon Giovacchini, the Mapp sisters and Pall were named second alternates.
   Still, Hammill was extremely pleased with their performance, which saw them win their heat with a time of 50.10 seconds.
   "I thought they ran extraordinarily well," he said.
   Other girls events included the 4×800, where the Lady Bulldogs put out a younger lineup for experience. Carly Schlamowitz, Sarah Seiler and Annie Carney joined Natalie Jones in the event.
   In the highly-competitive distance medley, the Lady Bulldogs turned in approximately the same time as they did indoors, but that was only good enough for ninth in their heat.
   Hammill acknowledged the time could have been a little better, but overall, the girls were just happy to have qualified for that event.
   "Overall, it was a nice series of relays," Hammill said. "Everybody did their job."
   On the boys side, there were a couple of fifth-place finishes.
   The 4×100 team of Andy Blecha, Min-Kee Lee, Nick Wright and Matt Griswold turned in a time of 46.21. Meanwhile, the 4×400 squad of Griswold, Wright, Joe Davidson and Blecha ran a 3:39.21.
   In an odd twist of fate, the 4×400 team was surrounded by several familiar Mercer County faces. The Bulldog squad finished just behind a team from Steinert and ahead of a squad from Notre Dame.
   In all, boys coach Dean Dekok was pleased with the performances.
   "Both groups ran very well," he said. "The hand-offs were fairly good. We were very excited to be there."
   In individual events, Ben Samara and Dave Rout competed for the Bulldogs.
   Samara failed to open in the high jump, which was set at a high 6-4. Samara’s high jump this season is 6-0.
   Rout turned in a throw of 49.49 meters in the javelin. That translates to approximately 162-4, well off Rout’s average for the year.
   "I think he was maybe a little too pumped up and never really got into his rhythm," Dekok said. "I know he’s very determined to put that behind him."