Tyrece Brown will be the leadoff runner for Deptford High School’s 4×400-meter relay team at this weekend’s Penn Relays.
The speedy junior will be the anchor for the Spartans’ 4×100 team.
He would willingly run the second or third leg on either of those teams. He also would raise his hand if coach Kevin Sherry wanted to rustle up a 4×800 squad or asked for volunteers to compete in field events.
“That’s something I take to heart,” said Brown, who will lead one of South Jersey’s top relay teams into Franklin Field on Thursday for the 124th running of the track and field carnival. “Wherever the coach needs me, I’m there.”
At Philadelphia’s Girard College, junior Thelma Davies is one of the fastest high schoolers in the country. She has been since she was a freshman. So it may come as a surprise that Thursday’s 4×100 relay race will be the sprinter’s first time at the Relays.
Davies, who set PIAA Class 2A records in the 100 and 200 meters as a freshman (11.58 seconds, 23.85), also won both 2A crowns as a sophomore (11.68, 24.15).
At Girard College, however, track coach Diamond Woolford had a hard time finding three other girls to form a relay team.
So Davies, who has already drawn interest from many of the top college track programs, has been a spectator at Franklin Field but never a competitor.
This week, all that changes thanks to senior Ebony Williams-Parris, freshman Margaret Conteh and sophomore Amaya Williams.
”Luckily I was able to take her down there so she could see and experience the atmosphere her freshman and sophomore years,” said Woolford, a 1999 Girard College graduate who himself competed several times at the Relays before starring at Penn State. “Now that she gets to participate is even better. I know she’s truly ecstatic to compete.”
At Deptford, Coach Sherry said Brown’s versatility is his greatest asset.
Except maybe for his toughness.
“He’s got to be one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached,” Sherry said. “Mental toughness and physical toughness.”
Brown’s leadership is top-notch as well, the coach said.
“He’s a born leader,” Sherry said. “He doesn’t just talk about what we need to do. He goes out and does it and then talks about it.”
But that versatility is what separates Brown in the sport.
He can run anything from the 800 to the 100, is a top long jumper and took fifth in the high jump in the indoor state meet, providing the points necessary for the Spartans to share the Group 2 title with Delsea. It was Deptford’s first state crown in track since 1970.
“That was his first time in the high jump,” Sherry said of Brown, who cleared 6-feet. “He just said, ‘Coach, I can do it.’ ”
Sherry said Brown could develop into a top college decathlete.
“We don’t offer the decathlon [in high school] in New Jersey,” Sherry said. “But I think that could be his future.”
Brown is coming off the best performance of his career. He ran on four winning teams in the 4×100, 4×200, 4×400 and shuttle hurdles and earned most outstanding athlete award at the 44th Woodbury Relays on Saturday.
“Four watches. That was nice, but when they handed me that trophy [for most outstanding], that was something special,” Brown said.
Brown was born and raised in Louisiana. He moved with his family from Gretna, La., to Deptford as a freshman and tried track for the first time that spring.
“It was hard at first,” Brown said. “Then we started winning. And once the winning came along, it wasn’t so bad. I was willing to put in the work to win.
“In football and basketball, we didn’t win too much, and then I came out here, and we just kept winning, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I like this.’ ”
Deptford won the 4×100 at the Woodbury Relays with a state-best time of 42.56. The Spartans won the 4×400 at the same meet in 3:25.42.
Sherry said the Spartans could go “under 42” in the 4×100 at the Penn Relays and maybe crack 3:20 in the 4×400.
“A lot depends on the weather, the competition, how the kids handle what really is a different kind of meet,” Sherry said. “But I know how much they are looking for to it.”
Brown said the Spartans will look to establish themselves among the best teams in the area.
“It’s a big deal,” Brown said of the Penn Relays. “We want to be one of the only teams that can say that their 4×400 and 4×100 teams moved on.
“We’re going to work for it. … We really can’t wait until this weekend.”
At Germantown Academy, senior Kyle Garland is one of the nation’s top decathletes and is scheduled to compete in the high jump and the 4×400 relay.
Garland, a University of Georgia commit, is the two-time New Balance Nationals Indoor pentathlon champion. He finished seventh in the high jump last year at the Relays.
Miles Green, a St. Joseph’s Prep senior standout and two-time New Balance all-American, is scheduled to compete in the 400 hurdles. The Virginia Tech commit could also compete in the 4×400 relay.
South Jersey is sending many top athletes. Khaliel Burnett of Delsea is the seventh seed in the triple jump. He went 48-9 1/2 at the Meet of Champions in June.
Nick Mirabelli of Rancocas Valley is the third seed in the javelin after throwing 220-10. Kasso Peaks of Eastern is a contender in the high jump after going 6-6 indoors.
Kervens Mezilus of Cherry Hill East competes in the 400 intermediate hurdles. He took third in that event at the outdoor Meet of Champions in June in 53.28. Tyler Anzisi of Egg Harbor qualified in discus with a heave of 157-6.
Kamron Kobolak of Cinnaminson is in the shot put after an indoor performance of 62-7 3/4.
The Winslow Township 4×100 relay team highlights the South Jersey girls’ entrants. Shakira Dancy leads an Eagles squad that returns three legs from a unit that ran 47.15 last season at Penn.
Tionna Tobias of Winslow Township went 19-7 1/2 in the long jump at last spring’s Meet of Champions, and Brielle Smith of Oakcrest unleashed a javelin throw of 150-7 at Woodbury.
Sophomore Jewel Ash of Eastern qualified in the 400 intermediate hurdles with a time of 1:02.11. Tierra Hooks of Timber Creek, another top sophomore, qualified for the high jump by doing 5-10 indoors this past winter.
Zyra Thomas of Schalick won the New Balance Nationals indoors in the shot put at 47-5.5. Ashley Preston of Delsea went 12-7 indoors in the pole vault, and Alexis Harrison of Millville will compete in the discus after throwing 126-10.