Schalick’s Mesiano looking to make history in Group 1 intermediates!

Keep an eye on the Group 1 intermediates Friday afternoon at the South Jersey sectionals a Egg Harbor. It should be very fast.

Chris Mesiano of Schalick is the favorite and will be trying to become the first ever to win three straight SJ-1 intermediates. He won in 2013 in 57.36 and last year in 55.7.

Mesiano ran a big PR of 53.83 last week at the Tri-County Championships, the No. 2 time in New Jersey, behind only Union Catholic’s Taylor McLaughlin (51.92) and the No. 1 time among all New Jersey juniors and all South Jersey athletes.

Mesiano’s time is second-fastest in the last 10 years by a South Jersey Group 1 athlete, just 1-100th of a second behind the 53.82 run by Penns Grove’s Stephon Bell when he won the 2010 state Group 1 title. The fastest Group 1 hurdler in state history is the legendary Fred Sharpe of Paulsboro, who ran 51.62 at the 1997 Meet of Champions.

Nobody has run under 55 seconds at the SJ-1 intermediates since Palmyra’s Will Brown ran 54.8 in 2005. Brown went on to win the national scholastic title in the high hurdles a year later and was a two-time national high hurdles for Montclair State.

Burlington City’s Bryan Smith (54.3 in 2001) and Sharpe (53.0 in 1997) are the only other runners to break 55 in Group 1.

Mesiano will also be trying to become the first South Jersey hurdler in any group since Dwight Ruff of Camden to win three straight sectional titles in the intermediates. Ruff won SJ-3 from 1999 through 2001 (53.2, 52.4, 51.0) on his way to becoming a multiple All-America at Florida.

Mesiano just broke 55 seconds for the first time earlier this month with a 54.74 at the Salem County meet on his home track at Schalick. His PR coming into the season was 55.59 from last year’s state meet, when he was second to Verona’s Chris Sweeney, who was also credited with a 55.59.

Other than Sharpe and Bell, the only New Jersey Group 1 hurdlers in the last 10 years faster than what Mesiano ran at the Tri-County meet are John Porteous of Wood-Ridge (52.93 at the 2011 Meet of Champions) and Dylan Capwell of Hopatcong (52.43 at the 2013 M-of-C).

What makes this year so unusual is that there is some depth in the South Jersey Group 1 intermediates field.

Riverside’s Michael Ramos has been PR’ing regularly and could push Mesiano Friday afternoon.

How far has Ramos come in the last year? His PR as a sophomore was 58.53 at the County Open, and he’s lowered that in each of his last four major races:

58.12 – Moorestown Invite
56.80 – BCSL meet
56.00 – County Open
55.87 – Willingboro Relay meet

Ramos is the No. 3 Group 1 runner in the state behind Mesiano and Raymund Clark of Roselle (54.46) and the No. 10 junior overall in the state.

Here’s a look at every runner since 1985 to win the South Jersey Group 1 400-meter intermediates:

2014    Chris Mesiano (Schal.) 55.71
2013    Chris Mesiano (Schal.) 57.36
2012    Sam Maniglia (P.G.) 56.60
2011    Shane Shanahan (P.G.) 55.1
2010    Stephon Bell (P.G.) 55.63
2009    Ali Ejaz (Glass.) 56.60
2008    Stephon Bell (P.G.) 57.08
2007    Keenan Cromartie (P.G.) 56.59
2006    Will Brown (Palmyra) 55.65
2005    Will Brown (Palmyra) 54.8
2004    William Barnes (Salem) 56.41
2003    Corey Crawford (Pennsville) 56.7
2002    Jason Alm (Bordentown) 57.2
2001    Bryan Smith (Burlington) 54.3
2000    Bryan Smith (Burlington) 55.7
1999    Dave Lowden (Pitman) 56.4
1998    Marcus Dowe (Penns Grove) 56.2
1997    Fred Sharpe (Paulsboro) 53.0
1996    Fred Sharpe (Paulsboro) 55.2
1995    Kevin Blakemore (Burl. Twp.) 55.6
1994    Tivon Silva (Penns Grove) 55.9
1993    Gerrit Kemps (H’field) 55.7
1992    Brian Davis (Maple Shade) 56.4
1991    Brian Davis (Maple Shade) 58.0
1990    Byron Pugh (Haddon Twp.) 57.9
1989    John Rowarnd (Audubon) 57.1
1988    Matt Moore (Palmyra) 55.6
1987    Mike Williams (Kingsway) 56.1
1986    George Bland (P.G.) 56.1
1985    Winston Henry (Florence) 57.3

Order of events, group breakdowns and much more are listed in the spring track regs on the NJSIAA web site. You can link to it here.

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