Penn Relays title for Pleasantville

Pleasantville's Jacob Clark finishes ahead of Westfield's Nathan Kiley to win the 4x800 in 7:40.71.
Pleasantville's Jacob Clark finishes ahead of Westfield's Nathan Kiley to win the 4x800 in 7:40.71. (ED HILLE / Staff)
Posted: April 29, 2013

Isaac Clark took his first good look at the gold watch still tucked in its box, smiled broadly, and said, "I got a little something to wear to my banquets."

Good thing, because he probably has a few of those in his future after the history he helped make Saturday.

Pleasantville became the first New Jersey school in 30 years to win the boys' 4x800 Championship of America at the Penn Relays. The Greyhounds' time of 7 minutes, 40.71 seconds set a school record and was the fastest race any U.S. school has run this spring.

"People are going to remember this until the day we probably die," Clark said. "Now everybody knows who Pleasantville is. We're not just a small, little school, a small, little town. We know we have greatness in this area."

Certainly, no one will soon forget what Isaac and his twin, Jacob, did at Franklin Field.

Isaac Clark ran an opening leg of 1:49.57, lifting Pleasantville from sixth place to first in two circuits of the track. Jacob Clark closed in a time of 1:49.17, one of the fastest legs in meet history. They were the only two runners to post sub-1:50 splits in the race.

Jacob Clark held off 800-meter indoor national champion Nathan Kiley, running for Westville, the defending Penn Relays champion from Virginia.

"I'm basically representing the whole state of New Jersey, because the whole state of Jersey hasn't done this," Jacob Clark said.

The last Jersey school to win the 4x800 here was Willingboro in 1983.

To win a race Saturday that came down to a little more than a second difference between the top two finishers, Pleasantville needed its two other runners to step up, and they did.

Dagoberto Arias shaved more than three seconds off his Friday heat time for the opening leg. Radcliffe Narinensingh ran the third leg two seconds faster than in the heat.

"I have two other brothers that aren't my twin, but they're like my brothers," Jacob Clark said, referring to Arias and Narinensingh. "We all did a part in this."

A great decision. Derrell Manhertz's struggle on the track Saturday was nothing compared to the internal tug-of-war it took to get him there.

Thanks to some unfortunate timing, the Penn Relays fell during the same weekend that his fellow Kingsway seniors were taking their class trip to Disney World.

"At first it was tough," Manhertz said. "I had friends going, 'Oh, Derrell, what are you doing?' But I had other teammates saying, 'Oh, Derrell, you have to stay for the Penn Relays.' "

No one can argue now that he made the wrong decision.

Manhertz's powerful kick on the anchor leg carried Kingsway to a victory in the 4x400 South Jersey large-school relay.

When Manhertz took the baton from Luke Hudson for the final lap, three runners were ahead of him. By the time he hit the homestretch, the crowd was on its feet and he had burst clear to bring Kingsway home in 3:24.29.

"Just the adrenaline of Penn Relays, the atmosphere, it's a nice boost that helped me finish through," Manhertz said. "To be able to do what I just did in front of all these great fans of track and field is something special."

Manhertz might not have been selected to run the anchor leg Saturday, but another teammate decided to go on the Florida trip. Manhertz found out Thursday that'd be getting the nod.

"It showed that if one leaves us, another right there that can do just as good as him," said Khalif Pitts, who ran the opening leg.

Austin Moore ran the second 400 meters.

Earlier in the week, Manhertz wrote on Twitter that he was staying off social media for the rest of the week because he couldn't stand to see any more pictures from Florida.

By Saturday night, it might have been his friends in Florida who were feeling jealous.

Front-runners. Haddonfield led nearly all the way to win the 4x400 South Jersey small-school relay in 3:27.45.

"Alex Johnston led it off with a great first leg, and we just didn't look back," anchor Luke Pease said.

Stan Hall and Will Melendez ran the middle legs.

Taking it all in. Jeffrey-Jon Tucker sprawled out on the infield turf watching the end of the high jump championship.

The Eastern senior couldn't help but admire the form of Christoff Bryan. The Jamaican athlete from Wolmer's Boys sailed 7 feet, 1/2 inch to win the event.

Tucker, the 13th seed who had cleared 6-8 to win the Group 4 indoor state championship in March, settled for a leap of 6-5 here, good enough to place 10th.

"Spring track is a little harder outside, it seems like," Tucker said. "It seems like there's more gravity beating down on you."


Contact Tim McManus at Follow on Twitter @ByTimMcManus.

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