Good luck trying to figure out Gabrielle Bennett’s best event.
She’s the No. 1 hurdler in New Jersey after running 14.47 in the trials on her way to winning the 110 highs at the South Jersey Group 3 meet at Central Regional.
She’s the No. 1 high jumper in New Jersey after a 5-8 at the Woobury Relays, and that matches the No. 3 mark in South Jersey history. She won sectionals this past weekend at 5-6.
She’s even the No. 5 triple jumper in South Jersey with a 36-11 1/2 for second place at sectionals.
Bennett, who will continue her career as a jumper, hurdler and pentathlete at U. Mass, is so versatile she throws the shot put sometimes in dual meets and even ran cross country in the fall.
But Bennett’s strongest event is probably the long jump, and she became only South Jersey’s 10th 19-foot jumper Saturday in Bayville.
Bennett added a foot to her PR with a 19-2 1/2 jump to win the Group 3 sectional title. Her previous PR was 18-1 1/4 from the Woodbury Relays. It’s the No. 1 jump in New Jersey this year.
Bennett now ranks No. 7 in South Jersey history including both indoor and outdoor performances and is less than seven inches from the school record of 19-9 1/4 set by former teammate Cidae’a Woods two years ago.
We figured we’d take a look at every long jumper in South Jersey history who’s gone 18-5 or better, indoors or outdoors. Here’s what that list looks like:
What a year it’s been so far for Bennett, who scored 38 points at sectionals, leading Winslow to its third consecutive sectional title. She’s unbeaten in the hurdles, unbeaten in the high jump other than the Penn Relays, and No. 1 in the state in three events.
At the Group 3 state meet this weekend at South Plainfield, Bennett will be the top seed in the high hurdles, top seed in the long jump, she’ll share the No. 1 seed in the high jump and she’s No. 4 seed in the triple jump.
Sterling Pierce entered sectional weekend with PRs of 10.87 and 21.75.
So much for that.
Pierce, Rancocas Valley’s speedy senior, ran three races this weekend and PR’d in each one. Competing at the South Jersey Group 4 sectionals at Egg Harbor Township’s Eagle Stadium, he ran 10.73 in the 100-meter dash trials, 10.72 to win the 100 final and 21.64 to win the 200.
The 10.72 and 21.64 are the fastest times any New Jersey sprinter ran over the weekend at the 18 various sectional meets.
It’s also the fastest 100-200 double in the FAT era at the South Jersey Group 4 meet. The previous fastest was by T.J. Johnson of Egg Harbor, who won the two sprints in 10.75 and 21.68 in 2009.
Pierce, who’ll be a freshman at Villanova this fall, is Rancocas Valley’s first sectional double winner in 11 years and only the third since 1975!
The others were hurdler Edgar Gantt in S.J.-4 in 1998 (14.3 and 54.2 hand-timed) and Ian Waterhouse as a junior in C.J.-4 in 2004 (1:53.2 and 4:19.3).
Pierce, whose father Jack ran for Woodbury High School and was an Olympic bronze medalist in the 110 hurdles at the 1992 Olympics, helped Rancocas Valley win its first sectional title since 1977 with his double win.
He also anchored R.V.’s winning 400-meter relay team, with JeSean Foster, Dyson Scott and Zakiyy Williams, and anchored the Red Devils’ 4-by-4 team, which also included Isaiah Curbelo, Joshua DeJesus and Samuel Keleekai.
RV’s secret weapon over the weekend was tireless senior Diante Bah, who scored 22 points in four events (second in 110HH, third in HJ, third in LJ, fifth in 400IH).
All in all, it was a remarkable performance by Rancocas Valley, whose 136 points are second-most in meet history, behind only Winslow’s 140 in 2003.
The Red Devils scored across the board, with 27 points in the sprints, 22 in the distance races, 10 in the hurdles, 26 in the relays, 30 in the jumps and 19 in the throws.
You don’t cover all the events without a terrific staff, and third-year head coach Jeff Dzuranin has one, with Eric Warren coaching sprints and Matthew Joseph throws. They’re assisted by Damon Petras, a former Lenape athlete under Fred Rucker and currently an RV girls assistant, who works with the horizontal jumpers, and Lonnie Stanley, who helps out with the hurdlers.
To understand how special this year has been for R.V., consider where the program was before Dzuranin and his staff took over in 2013. The program had one dual meet win in two years and had scored 19, 10 and 12 points in the last three County Opens.
Now they’re in position to challenge for the first state title in school history.
Ten South Jersey schools won South Jersey sectional team championships at various locations this weekend.
In the next few days, we’ll focus on some of the individual standouts at sectionals and look ahead to states next weekend.
But for now, let’s take a look at those 10 sectional champions and how they won their title.
South Jersey Group 1 Boys – Haddon Township
Luke Petela won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, leading 1-2-3 Haddon Township sweeps in the 800 and 3,200 and a 1-2-4 finish in the 1,600. That’s insane. That’s also 70 points in three distance events.
Petela ran 1:53.78, 4:26.77 and 9:59.52, with Township junior Owen Long second in all three (1:57.39, 4:26.92, 9:29.71).
Petela and Long also ran on the winning 3,200-meter relay team, along with Joe Domanico and Randy Ladd.
Chris Gandolfo was third in the 1,600 and Joe Dinerman was third in the 800. Ladd was fourth in the 3,200.
Haddon Township outscored second-place Penns Grove, 120-89.
The sectional title is the program’s sixth overall but only its second in the last 24 years. Township won Group 2 in 1971 and 1972 and Group 1 in 1989, 1991 and 2012.
South Jersey Group 2 Boys – Haddonfield
For all the program’s accomplishments, this was the Bulldogs’ first South Jersey sectional title in 22 years and sixth overall. Haddonfield won Group 3 in 1968 and Group 1 in 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1993.
This title was a rarity in that Haddonfield didn’t win a single individual event. But the Bulldogs still were able to outscore Deptford by 10 points.
Key events — not surprisingly — were the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, where Haddonfield piled up 44 points.
In the 1,600, Greg Pelose, Austin Stoner and Danny Brennan ran 1-3-5 for 18 points; in the 800, Stoner, Pelose and Jack Wood went 2-4-5 for 14 points; and in the 3,200, Danny Brennan and Chad Evans ran second and fourth for 12 points.
Stoner, Wood, Pelose and Chris Goings ran a hot 7:52.11 for a 75-meter win in the 3,200-meter relay.
Haddonfield also got a second place from Ian Picking in the pole vault.
South Jersey Group 3 Boys – Oakcrest
Oakcrest has been a very solid program for the last decade and won its fifth title in school history and fourth since 2007. The Falcons came out on top after a wild three-way team battle with Delsea and Timber Creek, Oakcrest finishing with 84 points, Delsea 79 and Timber Creek 74.
Oakcrest did a lot of its damage in the field, scoring 52 of its 84 points away from the track, with Terrence Smith winning the javelin, three scorers in the high jump, Ray Rodriguez third in the pole vault (13-6), Jordan Ingrum and Tyler Clybourn going 2-3 in the long jump (22-6, 21-11 1/4), Enaje Johnson-Hutto second and Prescott Nimley placing 2-6 in the shot,
The Falcons also got big points in the intermediates, with Ali-Quan Stokes and Quadir Thomas going 1-4, and got second in the 4-by-4 with Stokes, Tyler Clybourn, Christian Dennis and Kevin Stokes.
South Jersey Group 4 Boys – Rancocas Valley
A monumental performance by the Red Devils, who won their second sectional title in school history and first since the 1977 team won Group 3.
Sydney Pierce had a monster double, winning the 100 in a N.J. #1 10.72 and the 200 in a N.J. #2 21.64 along with anchor legs on R.V.’s winning 4-by-1 and third-place 4-by-4. So Pierce had a hand in 36 points.
The 800 was huge for the Red Devils, with juniors Isaiah Curbelo (1:55.97) and Joshua DJesus (1:58.06) finishing 1-3. DeJesus was also second in the 1,600 in 4:21.21, a four-second PR.
Jose Colon-Cruz and Jacob Tyndale joined Curbelo and DeJesus on the winning 4-by-8, which ran 8:00.98.
Zakiyy Williams did his thing in the horizontal jumps, blasting a meet-record 47-4 1/2 to win the triple jump and taking second at 21-7 in the long jump
Diante Bah had a monster weekend for R.V., with a PR 14.86 for second in the high hurdles, third in the high jump at a PR-matching 6-4, 21-5 for third in the long jump and fifth in the intermediates (PR 56.82). That’s 22 huge points for Bah.
Dyson Scott also placed in both sprints for R.V., and Robert Marks (174-9 win in the javelin), Chris Bright (PR 154-9 in the disc) and and Maurice Johnson (shot) added a surprising 19 points in the throws .
R.V.’s 133 points are second-most in S.J. Group 4 meet history. Winslow scored 140 in 2003.
South Jersey Group 1 Girls – Schalick
Schalick finished 35 points ahead of second-place Haddon Heights, 107-72, with Haddon Township just behind with 68 points.
Josephina Koomson led a 1-4 finish in the highs, and Alexia Lee led a 1-4 finish in the triple jump. Koomson was also second in the 100.
Tierrny Wiltshire (second in 400), Superia Ryan (second in discus), Amanda Chomo (second in 800) and Olivia Gerstenbach (third in 3,200, fourth in 1,600) also scored big points.
Schalick also took second in the 4-by-4 and 4-by-8, with Amanda Chomo, Taylor Ismail, Olivia Moor and Wiltshire on the 4-by-4 and Chomo, Avery Bramell, Paige Nelson and Gerstenbach on the 4-by-8.
Schalick won its fourth title overall and first since 2011. The Cougars also won in 1996 and 2002.
South Jersey Group 2 Girls – Sterling
The Silver Knights won their first title in 33 years, edging Haddonfield 91-85 and denying the Bulldogs a fifth consecutive title.
Shaniyla Johnson won the discus and Justine Thomas was first in the pole vault to lead the way for Sterling.
Sydney Coppolino led three scorers in the 800 with a 2:18.18 and led a 1-2 finish with twin sister Madison in the 1,600, both under 5:15. Sydney Coppolino also ran third in the 400IH with a PR 1:06.25.
The Knights clinched the team title when Candace Daywalt, Julie Stratton, Aliya Harrison and Julie Stratton finished fourth in the 4-by-4 in an eight-second season-best 4:06.40. Sterling needed to finish sixth or better to clinch the team title.
Sterling also got big points from Janlle Rowe (second in triple jump, third in long jump) and Rachel Adamski (second in javelin)
South Jersey Group 3 Girls – Winslow Township
The title was Winslow’s third in a row, fifth since 2004 and eighth overall (including three won as Edgewood – Group 3 in 1979 and Group 4 in 1983 and 1985).
Only Haddonfield (17), Paulsboro (nine) and Woodbury (nine) have won more in South Jersey girls track history. Shawnee has also won eight.
Huge weekend for Gabrielle Bennett, who soared a personal-best 19-2 1/2 to win the long jump, ran 14.60 for first in the high hurdles, cleared 5-6 and won the high jump on misses over Natalie Cowan of Hammonton and got second in the triple jump with a 36-11 1/2. Only Vashti Hanna of Cumberland, who PR’d at 37-4 in the triple, denied Bennett a rare quad win.
The intermediates were big for Winslow, with Brittany Preston, Jordan Austin and Shayla Rivers all running 1:04-point and taking second, third and fourth,behind Daijah Davis-Hines of Timber Creek, who won in 1:02.69. Ciarra Johnson was second in the shot, nearly hitting 40 feet.
Shayla Rivers, Maryn Hess, Jordan Austin and Amiaya Melvins ran 4:00.27 to win the 4-by-4, and the all frosh-soph 4-by-1 team of Tyianna Williams, Ananda Smith-Stroud, Flora Ahirakwe and Ziani Smalls ran 49.20 for another relay win.
South Jersey Group 4 Girls – Lenape
Lenape turned in one of the greatest performances in South Jersey sectional history, scoring a South Jersey Group 4-record 133 points — 23 more than the previous meet record of 110, set two years ago by Cherokee.
The Indians scored in every track event other than the 3,200 — which they didn’t enter. They outscored second-place by 52 points, the largest margin of victory in S.J.-4 history.
There were a number of stars for Lenape, but senior Carly Pettipaw and sophomore Jasmine Staten performed out of their minds, combining for 78 out of a possible 80 points. Pettipaw won four events and Staten had three firsts and a second to Pettipaw.
Pettipaw won the 400 in 56.59, reclaiming the school record that Staten took from her last weekend at the Burlington County meet. Staten was a step behind in 56.76, just off her 56.63 PR.
Pettipaw also won the 800 in 2:14.27, another PR, won the intermediates in 1:01.49, a school record, and ran a leg on the winning 1,600-meter relay team with Samantha Maynes, Shannon Storms and Marissa Topoloski.
All Staten did was win the 200 in a PR 24.81, edge Millville’s top-seeded Rachell Armstead by 1-100th of a second with a big PR 14.82, jump a PR 18-4 to win the long jump and take second to Pettipaw in the 400.
Soon after Pettipaw and Maynes opened the meet by scoring 16 points in the intermediates, Shannon Storms and Cassie Hoxit went 1-2 in the pole vault, both clearing 9-6. That’s 34 points in the first two events (Hoxit tied for second), and it was pretty much over already.
Other big contributors for Lenape: Camille Franklin (5:00.49 for second in 1,600), Maynes (14.99, 1:04.16 for third in both hurdles), Megan Quimby (2:16.70 for fourth in the 800), Topolski (PR 58.44 for fourth in the 400) and the 400-meter relay team of Maynes, Ariel Mitchell, Shannon Storms and Topolski (third in 49.55).
South Jersey Parochial B Boys – St. Joe’s-Hammonton
Tremendous meet for Ben Mitchell, whose quad include individual wins in the intermediates, high jump and long jump along with a leg on the winning 4-by-4,.
Mitchell and Erick Colon went 1-2 in the high jump for 18 big points for the Wildcats and led three St. Joe’s scorers in the long jump with a big 22-3 1/2 jump.
Caleb Williams swept the 100 and 200 with a fast 10.76-21.91 double, and edged teammate Rocco Ordille for the win in the 100.
Ordille, Williams, Davore Mewborn and A’Laam Horne won the 400-meter relay in 42.88, and Jordan Davis, Ricky Quirindongo, Horne and Mitchell won the 4-by-4
Central Jersey Group 3 Girls – Northern Burlington
Northern couldn’t have written a better script. This was the first time the Greyhounds have hosted a sectional, and the NBC girls wound up winning their first sectional title on their home track.
Senior Ashley Edwards and sophomore Kayla Jackson led the way for Northern, which outscored Middletown North by 19 points, winning by an 80-61 margin. Edwards and Jackson had a hand in 56 of Northern’s 80 points — 34 for Edwards, 22 for Jackson.
Edwards popped a big 18-7 to win the long jump and junior teammate Ty Horne took second by a quarter of an inch. Edwards also won the triple jump with a 37-6 1/2 and was second in the high hurdles (by 1-100th of a second) and third in the 200.
Jackson won the 400 in a PR 57.94 and was third in both the 100 and 200.
Precious Williams (second in javelin) and Ashley Dunteman (third in 3,200) also had big performances for the Greyhounds.
Going into Day 2 at the South Jersey Group 4 meet, the Lenape girls have 77 points.
In nine events.
That means Lenape is averaging 8 1/2 points per event so far. Or better than second place on the average per event.
To put that in perspective, consider that the Southern Regional girls won last year’s meet with 67 points. Lenape has already topped that with nine events to go.
Day 2 of the South Jersey Group 4 meet begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with finals scheduled in the 200-meter dash, 800-meter run, 3,200-meter run, high hurdles, 400-meter relay and 1,600-meter relay on the track and triple jump, high jump and discus in the field.
Lenape holds a 34-point lead over Kingsway in S.J. Group 4, with Egg Harbor (30), perennial champ Southern (28) and Vineland (24) next in team scoring.
Lenape already has more points than it scored last year (57). For all its accomplishments in recent years under coaches Gerald Richardson and Jack Walsh, Lenape has only won one South Jersey title outdoors, winning in 2011. Lenape has been second to Southern five times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2014) and third behind Southern and Cherokee in 2012.
With nine events to go, Lenape is only 33 points away from the record for most points in a South Jersey Group 4 meet. Cherokee scored 110 points in 2013, edging Southern by just three points. Lenape scored 107 when it won in 2011.
The Lenape girls made quite a statement in the opening events Friday at Egg Harbor’s Eagle Stadium.
In the first track final, Carly Pettipaw ran a PR 1:01.49 and Samantha Maynes finished third in a PR 1:04.16 for 16 quick points. Moments later, junior Shannon Storms and freshman Cassie Hoxit cleared 9-6 in the pole vault, Storms winning and Hoxit tying for second, for 17 more points.
The meet wasn’t an hour old, and Lenape had 33 points and a 21-point lead over Kingsway.
Pettipaw and soph Jasmine Staten then went 1-2 in the 400 — both breaking 57 seconds — and senior Marissa Topolski broke 59 seconds for fourth, generating a whopping 22 points in the 400.
Staten also won the long jump by more than a foot, adding a fraction of an inch to her PR with an 18-4., and senior Camille Franklin ran 5:00.49 for second in the 1,600 and eight more points.
Franklin, soph Megan Quimby, senior Eryka Colucci and soph Cian Williams added a fifth in the 3,200-meter relay for two more points, and senior Ariel Mitchell ran fifth in the 100 with a PR 12.46.
That’s 22 points in the 400, 17 in the pole vault, 16 in the intermediates, 10 in the long jump, eight in the 1,600 and two in the 4-by-8 and the 200.
A whopping 77 points.
For the record, the record for largest margin of victory in the South Jersey Group 4 meet is 36 points, Southern 95 and Lenape 59 in 2007.
Lenape, ranked No. 3 in the state and one of the best teams ever assembled in South Jersey, has a chance to make some history today.
Check back here later today for results, performance lists, records and all the usual stats you won’t find anywhere else!
It’s been 38 years since Rancocas Valley won its only sectional track championship. The program has been rejuvenated under coach Jeff Dzuranin, and thanks to tremendous Day 1 performances from Sterling Pierce and Zakiyy Williams, among others, the Red Devils find themselves in terrific position for their first title since 1977.
Pierce ran a N.J. #1 10.72 in the 100 finals and Williams broke the meet record with a 47-4 1/2 in the triple jump Friday as R.V. pulled out to a 21-point lead at intermission in the South Jersey Group 4 meet at Egg Harbor Township.
With nine events to go, R.V. leads second-place Egg Harbor 60-39, with Lenape (25) and Jackson Memorial (24) next.
Let’s take a look at Rancocas Valley’s very productive Day 1:
Pierce ran a 2015 New Jersey-best 10.73 in the trials and then went a bit faster in the finals, winning in a school-record 10.72. Teammate Dyson Scott wasn’t far behind with a personal-best 11.00 for third. 16 points
Junior Joshua DeJesus ran a four-second PR of 4:21.21, third-fastest in R.V. history behind Mark Strucku (4:18.7 converted from full mile in 1979) and Ian Waterhouse (4:16.93 in 2004), and placed second behind Ryan Rafferty of Jackson Memorial, who won in 4:19.35. 8 Points
400-METER INTERMEDIATE HURDLES
Bah, the No. 7 seed at 57.62, PR’d by about a second and finished fifth in 56.82. Quite a bounce-back after he finished seventh at the County Open six days earlier in 59.64. 2 points
Another outstanding performance from Bah, who cleared 6-4 for the third straight major meet and finished third. 6 points
Freshman Jacob Tyndale joined juniors Jose Colon-Cruz and DeJesus and senior Isaiah Curbelo to win in 8:00.98, about three seconds ahead of Egg Harbor. 10 points.
Williams PR’d by about five inches and broke the meet record of 46-8, set in 2009 by Rob Whitfield of Toms River South. 10 points
Tremendous effort by senior Chris Bright, who was only the ninth seed but PR’d with a 154-9 for second place.
That’s more than 20 feet farther than he threw at the County Open and a PR by 14 feet. Bright’s previous PR was 140-4 at the BCSL Liberty Division meet two weeks ago.
Bright is a study in persistence. This is a kid that threw 108 feet at sectionals as a sophomore and 120 feet last year. This year, he scored eight huge points in the South Jersey championships. 8 points
The two-day sectional meets begin today at eight sites throughout New Jersey. South Jersey athletes will be split between Egg Harbor (Groups 1 & 4) and Central Regional in Bayville (Groups 2 & 3), with S.J. Parochial B at EHT and S.J. Parochial A at Donovan Catholic in Toms River.
Some South Jersey athletes will be competing in the Central Jersey meets, with Central Jersey Groups 1 & 4 again at Hillsborough High and Central Jersey Groups 2 & 3 at Northern Burlington Regional in Mansfield.
The cash-strapped NJSIAA no longer offers actual programs at its meets, so save these downloads so you can follow along once things get going this afternoon.
All the meets have the same schedule, with finals today in the intermediates, 1,600-meter run, 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash and 3,200-meter relay on the track and shot put, javelin, long jump for girls and discus, triple jump and high jump for boys. Everything else is scheduled for tomorrow.
We will post results links as soon as they’re available today and tomorrow. The weather looks fantastic. Hope for PRs all around over the next two days!