By DAVID STEGON
For the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger
PHILADELPHIA — That big girl in the paddock? The one with shoulders like LaVar Arrington and the neck of a truck driver?
Yeah, whatever. Been there, done that.
Intimidation doesn’t exist after a Rocky-esque run up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps.
Plus, the Osbourn Park girls track team saw it all last year at the Penn Relays: the monstrous crowd, the bigger stronger athletes, the crowded handoffs and the unpredictable weather, so that was all old news by the time they stepped into the paddock to compete in the 109th running of the Penn Relays yesterday.
They were here to contend and for the second straight year the Jackets 4×400 relay team was able to post a solid time at the Penn Relays, finishing fifth in its heat with a season best time of 4:06.86 at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
“It was amazing,” Osbourn Park’s Elizabeth Yates said. “With everyone on the track at once and all the great runners, it is just awesome. This is the highlight of our year. It’s almost like the Penn Relays and then everything else.”
Yates, along with Lindsay Simon, Devon Alston and Brandice Flournoy, bettered last year’s time in the 4×400 at the Penn Relays by almost four seconds.
“I think we did really well,” Alston said. “We had some trouble in some of the handoffs because there were so many people, but otherwise we ran very well.”
Coach Mike Feldman was particularly happy with Flournoy, who ran her lap in just over a minute, on the anchor leg. “She’s our money runner,” Feldman said. “I thought she caught the girl [for fourth place], but just missed out.”
The Jackets 4×100 relay team finished seventh of nine teams earlier in the day. OP ran in the 15th heat with a time of 52.46 seconds, to place behind Philadelphia powerhouse William Penn which ran the race in 46.88.
All of this came after the Jackets spent last week on Spring Break and only had two practices to put it together for the meet.? They came to Philadelphia Wednesday night and continued their tradition of a pasta dinner at Pierto’s in downtown Philadelphia.
“We had pasta, water and salads,” Yates said. “No pizza. We were good about it.”
They also ran the steps at the art museum to get pumped up, which they did not have a chance to do last year. And they planned to get a couple of cheesesteaks before heading back to Manassas.
“I got everything I expected out of this trip,” Feldman said. “We could have run better, but we still did very well. I am happy with are performance and glad we came.”
And, the fun is not over for the Jackets, just yet. Friday night is the prom.