Paul Robeson’s Markeeta Thomas ready for Penn Relays

Paul Robeson High’s Markeeta Thomas finished second in the 400 meter hurdles championship with a time of 1:03.24 in the event. PHOTO BY ABDUL R. SULAYMAN, CHIEF TRIBUNE PHOTOGRAPHER

The 120th running of the Penn Relays got off to an exciting for high school athletes at Franklin Field on Thursday morning. Markeeta Thomas, Paul Robeson High’s outstanding sprinter, competed against some of the best track and field performers around the country while placing second in the 400 meter hurdles championship. She finished with a time of 1:03.24 in the event.

“I just wanted to do my 300 [meters] real good and just have what’s left at the end,” Thomas said. “I think I got out a little too fast because my steps were messed up. But it’s a good thing I know how to hurdle with both legs. So, that kind of help me get through it.”

The 400 meter hurdles is one of the toughest events in track and field. Thomas has spent a lot of time and effort developing her talents as a hurdler.

“You have to trust in your training,” Thomas said. “You give it all you got and when you feel like you’re getting tired you just trust in your training and it will help you get through it. Mr. [Tim] Hickey [Paul Robeson girl’s track coach] has helped out a lot ever since I was little.

“I went over my first hurdle with him. He’s done a real good job. I have to work on my finish, getting stronger and just working on being a better athlete than I am now.”

Thomas has done extremely well during the outdoor season. He has run the 100 meter hurdles (14.61) and 300 meter hurdles (43.32) this spring. She’s a key member of Paul Robeson’s 4x400 meter relay team, too. Thomas is looking forward to running the 4x400 relay. The team includes Shardae Harrell, Jameela Muhammad and Quadaisha NewKirk. They have one of the best teams in the state.

“I think we have a good chance of winning,” said Thomas, a junior. “We were state champions in the indoor [season]. So, I think we can win the 4x400 relay.”

The Penn Relays serves as a showcase for many of the top athletes during the spring. It’s the first big meet of the outdoor season. Thomas is certainly one of the great scholastic athletes at this long time track and field carnival.

Contact Staff Writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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