PHILADELPHIA - Jill Smith says her high school and college track and field careers blend together.
What stands out are the wins at The Penn Relays Carnival.
Smith, a 2009 Southern Regional graduate, ran the second leg for the University of Michigan's 4x1,500-meter relay team that won the Championship of America at Franklin Field on Friday.
The Michigan foursome of Shannon Osika, Smith, Rebecca Addison and Amanda Eccleston held off Oregon and won in 17 minutes, 15:17 seconds - the sixth fastest time in the meet's history. Smith, a Michigan senior, ran the second leg in 4:18.6 - only four runners in the nine-team race posted a faster split time.
"I feel like I went from one great program and one great coach to another," Smith said. "I feel like it's been a good journey."
It's also been a fast one. Friday's victory added to Smith's history of success at Penn. She helped the Southern Regional girls win the high school distance medley Championship of America as a sophomore in 2007. Smith holds the record for the fastest 1,600 split by a high school girl at Penn with the 4.42.2 she ran as a junior in 2008.
Smith, 21, still lives in the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township. Her success at Penn was just a part of her high school career.
Few local high school athletes in any sport can match her achievements. She won 15 state titles in cross country and indoor and outdoor track.
Smith has struggled at times with injuries at Michigan, but she's in the midst of a standout senior season. She ran the 800 leg for the Michigan distance medley team that won the NCAA indoor championship in March. Smith gave the Wolverines the lead for good with a bold move in the last 100 meters of her leg.
That performance made Michigan a distance team to watch at Penn.
"We all had a lot of faith that we would do well here," Smith said.
Michigan, Oregon and Villanova pulled away from the pack toward the end of the first leg Friday.
Smith gave the Wolverines the lead at the end of her leg. Eccleston made sure Michigan kept that advantage with a 4:19.6 anchor leg.
"I had my teammates every 100 yards around the track screaming at me," Eccleston said. "With their encouragement and support, we were able to get it done."
Michigan's victory was its first at Penn since 2008 when it won the 4x1,500 and the distance medley.
The Penn Relays is like a home meet for Smith. Her parents Steve and Joan watched her run Friday.
"It all came together (Friday)," Smith said. "I'm really happy my parents could be here. It's definitely nostalgic being here."
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