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Carroll High School's Randy Lee anchored the winning 4x800 relay as a sophomore at the Penn Relays two years ago. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)


First, Carroll High School's Oneil Barnaby, Berkeley Wright and Luis Garcia combined for a blazing 2,400 meters, with Garcia logging a career-best split. Then Randy Lee took the baton and faced two elite Jamaican runners in front of him and 50,000 screaming fans at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Lee ran a career-best split, passing the Jamaicans in the final 200 meters and out-dueling one down the stretch.

That's what it took to win the 2004 Penn Relays 4x800 Championship of America title. It's never easy -- in fact, it might be the rarest of high school accolades.

The 112th Penn Relays start tomorrow and run through Saturday, with 105 D.C. area schools planning to compete. Since high school relays were introduced in 1901, only 15 Washington area teams have won a Championship of America. In the meet's signature event, the 4x400 relay, only four area schools have won, the last being Northwestern's boys in 1999.

Two years after he anchored the Carroll team to victory, Lee says the memory of the cheering fans and the thrilling race on that Saturday afternoon remain vivid.



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