Track: Strath Haven relay does what it takes to keep Penn Relays streak alive

From our Penn Relays correspondent Terry Toohey:

The odds were against Strath Haven reaching the high school girls 4 x 800 Championship of America for the fifth straight year.

Strath Haven's Abby Kennedy, left, and Allie Wilson helped the Panthers 4 x 800 relay make its fifth straight Championship of America final at the Penn Relays. (Times Staff/ROBERT J. Gurecki)

Strath Haven’s Abby Kennedy, left, and Allie Wilson helped the Panthers 4 x 800 relay qualify for its fifth straight Championship of America at the Penn Relays. (Times Staff/ROBERT J. Gurecki)

Coming into the Penn Relays, Strath Haven’s best effort was 9:41.12, not exactly the kind of time that usually warrants a return trip to Franklin Field for Friday afternoon’s final.

Jamie Kenney, Allie Wilson, Abby Kennedy and Kristen Miller, though, were not about to let that streak come to an end.

“We’re all seniors and this is our last Penn Relays,” Wilson said. “We want to have a good experience.”

They will.

Kenney, Wilson, Kennedy and Miller made sure the Panthers qualified for the final for the fifth straight year. They finished second in their heat and ninth overall with a time of 9 minutes, 16.99 seconds. That’s the best in the county by nearly 12 seconds but a far cry from the 9:09.52 Strath Haven ran to win the indoor state title a few months ago.

“We ran as well as we could,” Strath Haven coach Bill Coren said. “Our goal was to get under 9:20, so I’m very happy. The best part is we made the Championship of America for the fifth straight year.”

Kenney ran a 2:21.94 on the leadoff leg, and Kennedy turned in a 2:22.72 splits on the third leg. The difference, though, was provided by Wilson and Miller.

Wilson was in eighth place when she received the baton. She was in second by the time she handed the stick to Kennedy after a 2:17.03 split.

“The field was pretty spread out after the first leg and I was battling with a couple of girls so I tried to calm down and use the whole race to make up some of the ground,” Wilson said. “I wanted to have something left at the end. I still had something left, but I wasn’t able to catch as many people as I hoped.”

“She had something left, and that’s a good thing,” Coren said.

Miller left nothing to chance on the anchor leg. She brought the baton home with a 2:15.31 split to secure Strath Haven’s spot in Friday’s final.

“There are so many fast teams here, and the heats are so mixed up that you can’t just jog it in and hope to get back,” Miller said. “You have to go run hard and put yourself in a good position to come back. I knew I just had to run a good time and that would get us a good spot.”

Penncrest was in the first of the four heats. Diana Dunn, Katie Arbogast, Leah Hill and Cassie Moretti turned in a time of 9:59.62, which was not enough to earn a berth in the final.

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