Well boy, do I feel outta shape. Saturday, at the 168th Street Armory in New York City, Camden High School (Camden, NJ) set a new national scholastic record in the 4×200-meter relay. 1:26.90. These four guys together covered roughly a half-mile in less than a minute and a half. Goddamn, that’s fast.

I don’t know what it is, perhaps it’s the recent realization that the extent of my exercise today consists of the walk to and from the train station to my office and the brief midday sojourns to the deli for chicken cutlet sandwiches, but I stared at the picture of the four members of the record-setting team for a good long while. Good for them. I hope they can use their talent for something to get them out of Camden, NJ.

For those of you who don’t know, Camden, NJ is routinely listed as one of the worst cities in the USA. The unemployment that this nation is only coming to grips with now that Bush has had a few years to make a mess of things, is no stranger to the residents of Camden, NJ. Nor are drugs, crime and poverty. So it’s always great to see real talent emerge from that city. I hope these guys (three of them were seniors) find their way into a good college after this. I know they won’t be chasing the millions that their pals on the basketball team (another sports powerhouse at Camden) could be after, but hey, anything that gives them a chance to become better athletes and pick up a good education at the same time, I’m all about it.

I also went to High School in the same school system as Camden High, and we were in the same sports group at the time (South Jersey Group IV), so we faced each other in sporting events. And I don’t mind telling you that I outkicked Tyree Nobles in the last 200 meters of the 1600 meter race, to take second place and thus outscore the expectations of my coach, who had pre-computed the minimum placings for all of us on the team in order to win that meet. You see, this mid-season dual meet was basically going to determine the conference champion, and I, for one, wanted one of those cool varsity jackets with the leather sleeves. I sure as hell wasn’t gonna get one playing football.

My 4:44 (not bad for a sophomore) effort was wasted; I forget who dropped the ball, but I believe it was some hump in the field events who didn’t take up the slack. We lost by nine points (I think), and that cost me a jacket, goddammit.

It’s always about me.

But congratulations to Alonzo Brown, Sherron Bullock, Dwayne Lewis, and Carl Smith nonetheless. Smith even told one of the race officials right before the race, that they were about to break the record. You have to love that.