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Thacher track crew earns a trip to historic Penn Relays

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Photo submitted
Thacher’s Jesse Van Newkirk smokes his leg of the distance medley relay at the Arcadia Invitational.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
For the second time in three years, the Ojai Valley will send a boys’ relay team to the storied Penn Relays.
In 2015, the “Nordhoff Express,” comprised of Cameron Kunde, Varian Wilson, Elijah Balderas and Landis Meyer, went to Philadelphia and competed in front of 40,000 die-hard track-and-field fans. The foursome finished as the top USA team in the 4-by-800-meter relay to capture the Championship of America title.
Fast-forward three years and local middle-distance coach Ed Italo is at it again, this time at The Thacher School.
Italo currently has only six male distance runners in his training group, but that is apparently all he needs. The team of Colin Kirkpatrick, Ford Shaper, Edison Chadwick and Jesse Van Newkirk have managed to go from a group of runners with only a few weeks of training together to the 11th-ranked distance medley relay (DMR) team in the U.S.
“It’s crazy. I’m blown away by these kids and their determination,” proclamed Italo.

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