Penn Relays: The nation’s biggest track carnival

Michael Hopkins cleans up the trash in Cape's 8-6 win at Saint Mark's. BY DAVE FREDERICK
April 26, 2013

Cape Henlopen rolls off the tongue - The Penn Relays weekend is always the last weekend in April. I was there in April 1975, stretched out under the overhang like a webbed belt on a pair of Dockers. Hall of Fame announcer Jack O’Reilly was calling three hours of high school boys' mile relays. Then he said “Going down the backstretch, it's Brooklyn Boys' Tech, Malcolm Shabazz, Paramus Catholic, Cape Henlopen” - he paused - “Cape Henlopen. I love saying that name.” My wife raised her head from a cooler of sandwiches and said, “Cape Henlopen. I think you applied there, wherever it is.” The next April I was back at the Penn Relays as the Cape Henlopen track coach, and for the next 10 years I would be famously known as the guy who was not Tom Hickman.

Homer - I was at a psychological testing center with my mother about 50 years ago because there was some question as to whether I was college material. During a general knowledge inventory, the examiner asked me with a smirk on his face - I had earlier revealed no study habits and copped to never reading a book - "Who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey?” “Homer,” I answered, ”Homer who or who Homer, not sure, they just called the guy Homer.” The stunned guy said, “How could you possibly know that?” and my mother jumped in, “He just knows things; it’s a real mystery.” I know this after being a Cape teacher, coach and sportswriter guy since 1975 - I’m a bit of a Homer myself.

My world - I spoke to Kyle Orton and Connor Brown after Wednesday’s lacrosse road victory 8-5 over Saint Mark’s. Yes, I know their grandparents, so what? I joked, “OK, now that your coaches are done giving you their take on the game, here’s the way I saw it.” They both cracked a “This guy is strange” smile. “Old clumpy field, heading-for-the-last-roundup-game, hard-hitting, rough around the edges and you two each come up with a big goal in a two-goal win." I looked at Connor. “How many times were you going to deke that goalie before putting the ball in the net? “ He explained the real-time action and his thought processes, but like Carlos Ruiz I started looking for my Adderall because I got lost. And Kyle Orton, whom coach Mark D’Ambrogi described as a guy at ease with any social group and whose grandfather Orton owned and donated the land for the Lewes Little League field, grows up to become a lacrosse player like his dad Rob.

Riddled with enthusiasm - The Cape junior varsity girls' lacrosse team won at Dover April 23 18-0, but at least Dover's yearbook photographer was there. Then the varsity game was won by Cape 20-2, but what was curious and inspirational was how hard the Senators played and their level of enthusiasm for ground balls and back checks, and when they threw a shot on goal or scored, they all cheered as if to say, “We ain’t going away; we’ll play all day.” Most teams would have packed it in; to Dover’s credit they were all about the game.

Snippets - Tricia Colucci, former Cape soccer player, has been named a captain of the Catholic University women’s soccer team for the upcoming fall season. Tricia is a center defender who earned a starting position as a sophomore.  And the girl is my great-niece by marriage three times removed. My daughter-in-law Liza Dolan is Tricia's mom Maura's first cousin. Tricia is a straight-up dean's list student.

Think of the song "It Started with a Whisper” and think Alec Perry, the whisper jet of Cape girls' lacrosse, who has been lighting it up for the High Point University Panthers. Perry was recently named Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Week for scoring nine goals in three games - we’re talking Division I college player here.

The Jim Blades Middle School Track and Field Invitational - 10 schools - is at Lake Forest Friday, April 26. The Beacon girls' team has a shot to win the thing. It starts right after school except if you don’t go to school then 3:30.  

Phillies are set for some sweeping changes - start with a broom.

The NFL draft on ESPN is like human trafficking in high definition. I don’t watch it. Go on now, git!

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