Sincere Rhea, the national scholastic indoor high hurdles champion for St. Augustine last year, made his collegiate debut for Penn State Saturday with a win on his home track.
Rhea won the 60-meter high hurdles in 7.98 at the Nittany Lion Challenge on the Ashenfelter Indoor Track in State College.
Rhea ran 7.98 to lead all qualifiers in the trials and then repeated the same time in the final, which he won by half a meter over senior Shyheim Wright of Pitt, who was second in 8.07.
I’d love to tell you where Rhea ranks on the all-time Penn State 60-meter hurdles list, but the most recent all-time list on Penn State’s web site is from 2012-13 and only goes five deep.
But it’s a good start for Rhea, whose time is No. 3 in the Big 10 so far — behind Iowa hurdlers Jaylan McConico [7.66] and Josh Braverman [7.97] and No. 2 among all NCAA Division 1 freshmen, behind only Oscar Smith of Kansas State and the Bahamas, who ran 7.87 last month at the K-State Winter Invitational at Ahearn Fieldhouse in Manhattan, Kans.
The No. 6 freshman on that national freshman list is Sam Aviles of Rider, a freshman from Palmyra. He ran 8.11 at the Fastrack Season Opener last month at Ocean Breeze. Rhea and Aviles went 1-4 in the indoor Meet of Champions last year.
Rhea, the Meet of Champions 400 winner last spring, also split 48.3 on Penn State’s all-freshman 1,600-meter relay team, which finished first in 3:13.49, fastest so far this year in the Big 10.
Also on that team were Savion Hebron of Neshaminy High, son of former Eagles and Broncos running back Vaughn Hebron; Philly native Godwin Kabanda of Northeast High; and Karl Johnson, who anchored in 47.70. Don’t know where Karl Johnson is from, since the roster link on Penn State’s web site is broken and there’s no record of him in the MileSplit database.