PHILADELPHIA — In almost any other year, the Abington boys' track team would be reveling in a record-setting afternoon and a Penn Relays national championship.
But Long Beach Polytechnic High School, a California school whose mascot is the Jackrabbit, ran like four of them, and forced the Galloping Ghosts to settle for a personal best time as a team.
The Ghosts capped off their performance at the 117th Penn Relays with a 4x800 time of 7:37.79, second to Long Beach's 7:31.69. Poly's time was 1.02 seconds slower than the Penn Relays and national record, set in 2009 by Albemarle High (Charlottesville, Va.).
"It was a sick day," said Abington anchor Kyle Moran, who is bound for Duke. "We wanted to win, but we're happy about our time. It was tough."
The Ghosts' time shattered their indoor mark of 7:45.21, set last month while winning the national title. It was the eighth-best in Penn Relays history.
Abington easily qualified for the eight-team finals by posting a 7:51.85 time on Friday morning, when they simply clock-watching to make sure they advanced. Since the Ghosts were running in the final heat, they knew what time they needed, and Moran ran accordingly.
Abington switched up their first three legs on Saturday, going with Macey Watson, Will Taylor and Tevin Smith ahead of anchor Moran. They ran Smith, Watson and Taylor on Friday.
The plan worked initially. Watson fell behind Chris Hall and three other runners, but ended the first leg within three seconds of the lead. Taylor took over and maintained for the first two and a half laps, before sprinting past two teams, and pulled within two seconds.
Taylor's 1:53.01 leg was the second fastest of any runner.
"I was just waiting to hit that last turn," Taylor said. "That's the trigger of the whole race, so I saved it up for the turn and I hit it."
Christian Penn stole the second back from Smith, and Myles Andrews brought it home with a blistering individual time of 1:49.54.
"Nothing you can do with a leg like that," head track coach Brian Deck said. "We were hoping for anything under :38 or 39. They did it in 37. They ran a good race in a good atmosphere. Second place explains who's the best in the state."
Abington finished better than Central Bucks West, La Salle College High School and Wissahickon, the other three Pennsylvania teams who qualified, setting themselves up for a state title, followed by nationals.
"I'm really glad we had this opportunity to be here," Taylor said. "We worked to be here. Now, the greatest thing is to overcome states, nationals. We're not just going to die down."
Deck told the team as they cooled down that he was breaking up his senior quartet for the 4x800 at states. They'll run the 4x400 and individual events in Shippensburg.
"They've run relays for us for years for us," Deck said. "Let them go out and get some individual titles."
After that, the 4x800 team will gear up for another number, the 7:33 Pennsylvania record.
"That's a big target for us," Deck said. "We'll go after that at nationals. We all take nationals seriously."
Results for Event 470: High School Boys' 4x800 Championship of America
1. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.), 7:31.69 -- Chris Hall, Aaron Harris, Christian Penn, Myles Andrews.
2. Abington (Abington, Pa.), 7:37.79 -- Macey Watson, William Taylor, Tevin Smith, Kyle Moran.
3. Central Bucks West (Doylestown, Pa.), 7:38.97 -- Mike May, Matt McGarvey, Matt Bee, Connor Manley.
4. Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.), 7:45.40 -- Ron Busby, Joey Chapin, Thomas McIntyre, Russell Hornsby.
5. Holmwood Tech (Christiana, JAM), 7:46.70 -- Sanj Powell, Andre Hosey, Kevin White, Danielle Richards.
6. Richard Montgomery (Rockville, Md.), 7:47.49 -- David Hamilton, Jacob Cantor, Zack Angel, Sam Martin.
7. Kingston College (East Kingston, JAM), 7:49.02 -- Rogeek Rochester, Yannick Edwards, Giovanni West, Andre Hare.
8. La Salle College (Wyndmoor, Pa.), 7:49.21 -- Andrew Stone, Chris Muggler, Tom Coyle, Brendan Stone.
9. St. John the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.), 7:49.35 -- Sean Ferguson, Hunter Burrell, Seitu Solomon, Brandon Camenzuli.
10. Wissahickon (Ambler, Pa.), 7:49.50 -- Dillon Farrell, Sam Brooks, Ben Ravetz, Hong Cho.
11. St. Jago (St. Catherine, JAM), 7:51.30 -- Webster Chung, Sanjer Pantry, Damion Jones, Otaine Bartley.
12. William Dickinson (Jersey City, N.J.), 8:06.83 -- Aaron Rubet, Luis Reyes, Edwin Young, Jose Veras.