When they train, the runners of St. Malachy's high school in Belfast, Northern Ireland, don't wear their Irish green uniforms. Somebody might shoot them. The school is in a section of Belfast long known as the Murder Triangle, where Catholic boys run the streets at their peril. Still, St. Malachy's boys have won 21 all- Ireland titles in coach John Morrin's 25 years at the school. They also won the Penn Relays distance medley, perhaps the world's most important high school race, in '97 and '98. Last Friday they faced 11 American teams, including powerhouse Shenendehowa (N.Y.) High, and a team from Jamaica on a cold, stormy day in Philadelphia. "We joked that God's an Irishman because he brought us the weather we left at home," said Morrin on Sunday. His team of Joe McAlister, Joe Hendry, Francis McCaffrey and anchor speedster Conor Sweeney had just finished 13.6 seconds Belfaster than second-place Shenendehowa's 10:13.45 and 1.06 seconds ahead of the event's old record, which had stood since '83.
"It couldn't have been scripted better," says Morrin. "We broke 10 [minutes] and got the three-peat as well. Conor said the crowd just picked him up on the anchor leg. He was running on adrenaline, and that secured the record."