Zach Keefer had to take the lead.
The Fordham Prep runner tried once during the third leg of the CHSAA 4 x 800 meter relay and was pushed away by Farrell’s Corey Orazem.
“I went the second time and I knew I had to get in front of him right then and there because he was going to start his kick,” Keefer said. “Once I got in front of him, I was kicking the last two laps.”
He opened up nearly a turn length lead for the Rams and anchor leg Mike Jennings. Jennings stayed calm and paced himself through the early stages and left plenty for when he kick on the bell lap.
“I knew (James Farley) was going to come up around me. He is a very good runner. … I was ready to kick it on that last lap,” Jennings said.
Jennings had plenty in reserve and held off Farley to secure the victory for the Rams and teammates Harley Griffith and Carlos Petrovich in a time of 8:05.27 at the 102nd Millrose Games, the world’s oldest indoor track meet, at Madison Square Garden Friday night. The win avenges a loss to Farrell at the Millrose trials and sent the Fordham Prep fans near the top of the Garden in a frenzy. The Rams already owned the fastest time in the country in the relay.
“It’s awesome,” Jennings said. “It’s such a pump.”
The Rams are also coming off winning the NYCHSAA title by beating out Farrell 94-61 on Jan. 26.
“Now we want to concentrate on cities,” Farley said. “And win that, too.”
Springfield Gardens also saw its slight lead eliminated with one leg to go in the Mayor’s Cup Boys’ PSAL 4 x 400 relay and things still didn’t look good during the anchor leg as the Golden Eagles’ Waymour Johnson moved back into second with Boy & Girls still ahead.
Then Johnson saw the runner in front of him tire heading to the back stretch for the final time.
“All I saw was first place,” Johnson said. “I didn’t take my eyes off first place. I had to get first place.”
Johnson took the lead around the final turn and pulled out the victory in 3:30.13 with help from teammates Tadd Willoughby, Horaine Edwards and Rashawn Simpson. Boys & Girls was second in 3:30.91.
“I’ve been working on my kick lately to finish my race harder,” Johnson said.
The Columbia University men’s team appeared to have opened up a big enough lead when Jeff Moriarty put the field well behind him after taking the baton from Mike Mark. Chris Hays then opened up the lead some more during his leg, but both Villanova and Cornell closed at its end.
Ryan Hays could not hold in the anchor leg and the Lions placed third in the Men’s 4 x 800 relay in a time of 7:39.90. Villanova and anchor leg Sean Tully won in 7:35.48. The Lions placed fourth at last year’s Millrose Games.
“We know this is such a small track and we know it’s tough to pass people,” Moriarty said. “So we just wanted to build up a big lead and hopefully be able to hold them to it. Nova’s anchor leg ran a great leg.”
Sheepshead Bay’s Ayo Isijola, in his second Millrose Games, placed fourth in the Junior Men’s 60 meter dash in a time of 7.0. Teammate Darryl Bradshaw was fifth in 7:06. Devon Smith won the event in a time of 6:65.
“I fell out at the start,” Isijola said. “I tried to catch back up, but it was just too late because I fell out.”