The reunion relay team of (from left) David Saparito, Gianni Wile, John Penington and Tyler Cochran placed second at the recent AAU Junior Olympics in the 15-16 age division 4 x 800 relay. / Pat Davey

The goal was to reunite in quest of a national championship.

John Penington, Gianna Wile, David Saparito and Tyler Cochran are all former members of the St. Regis youth track program who went their separate ways in high school. Penington and Wile attend Brother Rice, where they head into their junior and sophomore years, respectively. Cochran will be a sophomore this fall at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Saparito goes to school in Warren, a junior-to-be at Mott High School.

This summer, the four long-distance standouts decided to reunite and compete in the 4 x 800-meter relay at the AAU Junior Olympics, which were recently held at Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti. Even when they competed for St. Regis, they had never before teamed in a relay event.

And they did not intend to simply make a token Junior Olympics appearance in the annual national championships just because it was held locally this year. Nope, the goal all along was to win the event.

And they nearly pulled it off.

Saparito, Cochran, Wile and Penington gave a superb effort at the meet, which concluded Aug. 3, placing second in the boys 15-16 division while representing the Motor City Track Club. They lost to a quartet from Memphis, which crossed the line with a new AAU JO time of 7:57.03 (the old record was 8:01.00). Saparito, Cochran, Wile and Penington’s runner-up time of 8:00.33 also broke the old record.

While they barely missed in their quest to win a gold medal, their overall performance was nothing short of sensational.

Pat Davey, who had coached the four runners at St. Regis, had the pleasure to oversee the reunion relay team. He couldn’t have been prouder of their achievement.

“I was proud of their performance for several reasons,” Davey said. “I really liked their initiative to put this relay together and train as hard as they did for a common goal ... and they never quit. They knew that a couple of the Memphis runners were capable of running some very fast times and they still went after them with everything they had. All four of our runners were very tough.  MORE