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O'Bryant boys, Latin Academy girls win first ever 'Friendship Sprint'

Posted by Justin Rice  April 10, 2013 06:13 PM

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O'Bryant's Patrick Powell, right, ran the first leg of the "Friendship Sprint" medley relay race during the Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event at the Reggie Lewis Center on Wednesday. O'Bryant won the race with a time of 3 minutes 57.1 seconds. (Stan Litchman / For the Boston Globe)

Shortly before defending Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir of Kenya took the lectern at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center on Wednesday afternoon, the O’Bryant boys and the Latin Academy girls won the first ever “Friendship Sprint” medley relay race in the third-annual Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event.

The races also came after the last American men’s winner at Boston, Greg Meyer, and four-time Boston champ, Bill Rodgers, led the 12 Boston public school track teams through drills.

Fernando Cabada, who finished seventh at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, also attended the event, which was sponsored by John Hancock Financial and the Boston Scholar Athletes program.

“It’s really great to be around people who have achieved the success that I hope to achieve when I get older, just as I continue doing the sport,” Latin Academy freshman Ashley Lewis said after helping the Dragons win the girls’ race with a time of 4 minutes 35.8 seconds.

“It’s just an honor to be here today.”

Three other freshman (Imani Pressley, Britney Firmin and Leigha Mills) also ran for Latin Academy’s winning relay on Wednesday.

“The sprint medley was really fun,” Presley said. “It was like an adrenalin rush; I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast.”

Latin Academy coach Brian Leussler said Firmin gave them an edge in the race.

“I thought the team with the strongest 800 meters was going to win this race because they have half the race, and I knew Britney, our lead leg who did the 800, was super strong at the 600 and 1000 indoor and she’s really good at the 400 and 800 outdoor,” he said. “The combination of them is just fantastic. All of them have gone to the state meet before … and they are all in ninth grade, which is amazing.

“I’m lucky to have them.”

O’Bryant (Patrick Powell, Mehki Williams, Brian Donna and Duncan Malone) won the boys’ race in 3:57.1.

“Hopefully this will be the relay for the state relays that’s coming up soon and I just wanted to see how well they run and what we need to do to polish it off,” O’Bryant coach Jose Ortega said. “Hopefully this will be a competitive team.

“I know they can run, it’s just a matter of where we need to be. We have to tweak a little, especially that 200 exchange. That’s going to happen at the state level and if we’re not ahead or separated from the rest of the pack that is where we will get in trouble.”

Powell, who ran the first leg of the relay on Wednesday, also said he was honored to be in the presence of such great marathoners.

“It means a lot because all of these people have done great in track and field and I’ve always looked up to them for all the work and perseverance they’ve done to get to that height,” he said, “and I want to get to that same height too.”

Globe Correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed to this report.

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.