Upper Darby’s Cecil Simpson is seeded 20th in the triple jump in this weekend’s Penn Relays.
Upper Darby's Cecil Simpson is seeded 20th in the triple jump in this weekend's Penn Relays. (Robert J. Gurecki)

MARPLE TWP. — You won't find the Cardinal O'Hara boys listed among the national or state leaders in the distance medley relay. The Lions have yet to run the event in the outdoor season.

Based on its indoor time, though, O'Hara is the team to beat at the Penn Relays.

"It's kind of scary,' said senior Nick Smart, who will run the 800-meter leg for O'Hara's DMR Friday at Franklin Field. "Teams are going to be chasing us down.'

O'Hara went from underdog to favorite when it won the championship and broke the meet, county and all-time Catholic record with a mark of 10:00.75 at the New Balance Nationals a little more than a month ago at the Armory in New York.

"We were seeded fourth," Smart said. "There was no pressure on us to win."

That will not be the case Friday. Kevin James; Connor McCullough, who takes over the 400 leg for Isaiah Cooper; Smart; and Jim Belfatto will be the hunted, not the hunters, in a loaded field that features some of the best teams in the country.

"It's exciting," James said. "Even though you have a target on your back you have to be excited about that. There's pressure, but you just have to rise up to the occasion."

The Lions will be driven, and not because they are the favorite. For James and Belfatto, there is unfinished business. They were on the team last year, along with Dan Savage and Jim Boyle, that finished fourth at Penn.


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"We only lost by about a second or two and we were really upset about that," James said. "We're looking to get the W this year. We'll be mad if we get anything less than that."

In other boys events, Penncrest is the third overall seed in the small schools 4 x 800, while Radnor is seeded sixth. The top 12 teams qualify for Championship of America, and both the Lions and Raiders have a chance to make it back for Saturday's final. Bonner-Prendergast (14th) and Strath Haven (17th) are also entered in the small school race.

Related: The heat is on for Villanova in this year's Penn Relays.

In individual events, Episcopal Academy's Sam Pope (seeded 14th) and Cecil Simpson of Upper Darby (seeded 20) are entered in the triple jump. Tyshawn Anderson of Glen Mills is seeded 20th in the shot put, while All-Delco Evan Sing of Penncrest is 14th in the javelin.

On the girls side, Strath Haven looks to get to the COA in the 4 x 800 for the fourth straight year. Penncrest earned a trip to Penn for the 4 x 800 with its second place finish at the girls Delco Relay Carnival.

Cardinal O'Hara and Garnet Valley are among the 16 teams in the high school girls distance medley relay Championship of America. Upper Darby and Penncrest have a chance to make it back for the Tri-State 4 x 100-meter championship. 

The Central League 4 x 400 also should be interesting. Penncrest is the defending champ, but Conestoga, Garnet Valley, Ridley, Strath Haven and Upper Darby will also figure into the mix. 

Penncrest's record of 3:55.53 could be in jeopardy. Strath Haven ran 3:54.73 to finish second at the indoor state championships. Penncrest went 3:58.49 at the Delco Relay Carnival.

Upper Darby All-Delco Claudine Andre is the only county female athlete entered in an individual event. She is seeded 14th in the long jump.