Speed City Strikes Again

What is IN the water in Long Beach, California? Poly High's 4x400 team set a national record today in the Penn Relays by streaking to a 3:35.55 time to overtake Long Beach Wilson for the country's best time in the event.

On Friday afternoon at the Penn Relays in Phildelphia 15,000 fans saw history in the making as the city record of Long Beach, Calif. was broken by the Poly High girls 4x400 team.

Oh, by the way, that's also the national record.

The old mark of 3:35.72 set by Long Beach Wilson was shattered by Poly quartet of Shantae McKinney (sr.); Jasmin Lee (jr.); Shana Woods (fr.) and Shalonda Solomon (jr.), who ran split times respectively of 55.9, 52.9, 55.1 and Solomon's 51.6, the fastest split in the history of the Penn Relays for a high school girl.

"I just reached down for my team," Solomon said minutes after she finished. "I knew the team wanted me to win really bad."

The Jackrabbit anchor battled Sheryl Morgan of Holmwood Tech (Jamaica) and the pair alternated leads before Solomon surged to victory in the last 100 meters.

Earlier in the day, the relay team almost broke the national record in the 4x100, winning with a 44.97 time compared the record of 44.70 set by St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.) in 1997.

Still, the effort helped the squad get pumped for the later run.

"That really pumped us up," agreed Lee, "the way we ran earlier. We all tried to p.r. (get personal records) and we all ran with an extra gear. That (the national record) is what we hoped for."

For long-time track coach Don Norford the performance added some solace to a difficult month as the coach lost his wife three weeks ago after she died of complications from a stroke.

"This is just so rewarding," he stated," especialy with all the things I've been going through."

Now, the fun begins as Wilson and Poly will matchup several more times this year. Does the Friday effort send a message to the Wilson girls?

"It's going to show them that we're not going to be beaten this year," Lee proclaimed confidantly.

Norford was a little more, well, diplomatic.

This just goes to show how awesome Long Beach is as a city," he said. "It also shows all the support our school district has for athletics."

And as for the Battle for the Beach on the track?

"If I was Wilson," Norford concluded, "I'd see it (the newspaper story) and get fired up to try and break our record."

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