This Week in SJTrack: Egg Harbor Impresses

This Week in SJTrack: Egg Harbor Impresses

Toms River, NJ:  The John Bennett Indoor Complex played host to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 and 4 Sectional Championships this past Saturday.  In the boys competition Egg Harbor look on some of the state’s best and came out Champions.  Lenape shined in the girls competition becoming the top South Jersey performer.  Meanwhile, Haddon Township migrated north for the day and competed in the Group 1 Central Jersey Sectional.  

Group 4 Boys

Egg Harbor Defeats Strong Challengers

Heading into the meet Coach Ryan Smith knew his Egg Harbor Eagles had a challenge on their hands: “After the final seeds were published earlier in the week we saw that Kingsway was a favorite over us.  That fired up our kids… .  [T]hey take pride in performing their best for the team.”  Though they entered a slight underdog Egg Harbor left with a South Jersey Group 4 Title and Rancocas Valley Coach Jeff Dzuranin (whose team tied with Kingsway for second) made clear the best team won: “Egg Harbor had a great meet and was impossible to beat in the team title.”  The Eagles scored in 8 of 10 events and had multiple qualifiers in the 400 meters, the 800 meters, the high jump, and the shot put.  With a total of 73 points they won by 17 and Smith was pleased with the performance: “I couldn’t be prouder of these student-athletes and their coaches for that extra effort they put in for the benefit of the team.”

Amir Brock was the only individual winner for Egg Harbor with a 50.90 second performance in the 400 meters.  Teammate Alex Dessoye outperformed his seed and placed second in 51.12.  The other South Jersey qualifiers included Chase Campbell and Kevin Harrison both of lenape (3rd, 51.38 and 5th, 52.11), and Samuel Keleekai from Rancocas Valley (6th, 52.27).

Isaiah Curbelo of RV shined in the middle distance events with what Dzuranin called a, “Monster Triple.”  His day started with the 1600 where he broke his own indoor school record enroute to a victory in 4:21.70.  He followed with an 800 performance that made him the first RV boy to win multiple events at an indoor sectional.  He ran away from his competitors winning by over 2 seconds in 1:57.12.  He would cap off the meet by anchoring the victorious RV 4×400 relay.  

The other South Jersey Qualifiers in the 1600 were Nicholas Pschunder of Eastern (2nd, 4:22.6), Curbelo’s RV teammate Joshua DeJesus (3rd, 4:24.69) who returned to form after a nagging cross county injury, Isaiah Jean-Baptiste (4th, 4:26.06) and Cole Parsons (6th, 4:29.75) both from Cherry Hill East.  Curbelo was followed by Eric Barns of Egg Harbor in the 800.  His time of 1:59.80 registered 8 big points for EHT. Jean-Baptiste double back to finish 3rd in 2:00.18 while DeJesus, also returning from the 16, placed 4th in 2:00.21.  Robert Dessoye of Egg Harbor was the final qualifier running 2:00.32 for 6th.  

Aaron Groff of Cherry Hill East won the 3200 in 9:24.54.  He will enter the Group 4 State Championship as the top seed.  Other South Jersey Qualifiers include Joshua Chazin of Eastern (3rd, 9:37.43), Joe Grandizio of Kingsway (4th, 9:38.62), Justin Kelly of Cherokee (5th, 9:43.77), and Marc Meltzer of Cherry Hill East (6th, 9:45.46).  

Millville Senior Thomas Zor won the 55 meter high hurdles in 7.87 over Andrew Daniluk of Toms River North.  Jordan Clark of Cherry Hill East placed 3rd in 8.00.  RV’s Aliyy Haqq qualified next in 8.08, while Ryan Felker of Egg Harbor placed 5th in 8.18.  Chase Glasper of Rancocas Valley closed out qualification with an 8.24 second performance.  In the dash South Jersey’s top qualifier, JeSean Foster of RV, finished 2nd in 6.73 seconds.  The other SJ qualifiers in the 55 were 400 Champ Amir Brock of EHT (6.76), Atlantic City’s Dapree Wright (6.78), Chase Campbell of Lenape (6.79), and Clearview Freshman Aidan Burns (6.82).

Heading into the last event of the day, the 4×400 relay, Rancocas Valley had an ambitious goal: win.  Egg Harbor Township had beaten them in every head to head competition this season and according to RV Coach Dzuranin, they wanted, “to make a statement… to close out the meet.”  Their winning time of 3:27.65 tied the RV indoor school record and edged Egg Harbor who finished 2nd in 3:28.08.  The team consisted of Sam Keleekai (51.5), Rob Hawkins (51.6), Brian Merriman (53.7) and Curbelo (50.7).  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Millville (3rd, 3:32.07), Lenape (4th, 3:34.11), and Cherry Hill East (5th, 3:34.71).   

In the field, Kingsway was dominant. Dragon Senior Chase Matthews won the high jump in 6’6, teammate Ryan Evernham won the pole vault in 12’6, while Sam Shinn convincingly won the shot put with a 52’9.5 effort.  The other qualifiers in the high jump were Ryan Felker of Egg Harbor (6’4), Earnest Daniel of Kingsway (6’0), Cherry Hill East teammates Nevin Beasley (6’0) and Kyle Encarnacion (5’10) and Joseph Del Conte of Egg Harbor (5’10).  

Trevor Kopp of Egg Harbor placed second in the pole vault with a 12 foot performance.  Champion Evernham will be joined by teammates Jacob Matheny (11’6) and Daylan Rinnier (11’0) at States as they finished 3rd and 4th.  The final qualifiers in the vault were Mitchell Casey of Shawnee (11’0), and David Bauder of Egg Harbor (10’6).  Behind Shin in the shot were South Jersey qualifiers Darren Wan of EHT(46’11), Byron Wells of Kingsway (45’0), Mubarak Momodu of EHT (43’10.25), and Tariq Hills of RV (43’00.5).

Group 4 Girls

Lenape Runs Strong at Sectionals

The Lenape Girls were the top performing South Jersey school at the Group 4 South Jersey Sectionals and through they came up short to a strong Southern Regional squad Coach Gerald Richardson was happy with the performance: “I was very pleased with the way we competed and getting a good number of kids through to next week (State Group 4 Championship).  We places where I knew we could place and finishing strong with a 4×400 sectional title made it a great day.”  The victorious Indian 4×400 team consisted of Megan Quimby, Individual 400 Champion Shannon Lambert, Dana Duffield, and Shannon Storms (4:05.79).  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Eastern (4:07.21), Shawnee (4:08.87), Cherokee (4:09.29), and Millville (4:12.41).

Lambert’s 400 victory was Lenape’s only individual title.  Her time of 59.61 positions her as the 7th seed for Saturday’s State Championship.  She was followed by Eastern’s Shakira Dancy who ran 60.48 for 2nd.  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Kate Woolam of Clearview (3rd, 60.80), and Shawnee’s Molly Johnson (4th, 60.89).

Julianna Catania of Egg Harbor Township came out on top in the 1600 where she ran 5:03.08 to defeat Lenape’s Megan Quimby (5:03.91).  The other SJ qualifiers in the 16 were Kara Bonner of Shawnee (4th, 5:07.94), and Kingsway teammates Destiny Stanford (5th, 5:10.75) and Rachel Vick (6th, 5:27.46).

The only other South Jersey victory came in the 55 meter dash where Bria Mack won in 7.25 seconds over Najiyah Palmer of Kingsway (7.38).  Macks time positions her well for the Group meet where she will be the number one seed heading into the prelims.  Ayanna Garrett of Egg Harbor finished 3rd with a time of 7.47 seconds.  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Rachell Armstead of Millville (5th, 7.50) and Egg Harbor’s Ajae Alvarez (6th, 7.62).  

Najeaya Singleton from Vineland earned the only South Jersey victory in the field with a 40 foot 7.75 inch throw in the shot put.  She will enter the State meet as the number two seed.  The next SJ thrower was Samira File who finished 3rd with a toss of 38 feet and ¼ inch.  Emily Hilt of Kingsway also qualified with a 4th place finish and a throw of 36’2.  

The top SJ finisher in the 800 was Lenapes Megan Quimby who ran 2:19.71 for second.  That time puts her in good position for the State Meet where she will be the 4th seed.  She was followed by qualifiers Destiny Stanford of Kingsway (4th, 2:21.27) and Williamstown’s Gabbi Kirsch (6th, 2:24.40).  1600 champion Julianna Catania was the top SJ finisher in the 3200 where she finished second in 11:19.08. The only other SJ qualifier was Alexis Mullarkey of Kingway (6th,11:35.53).

The 55 meter hurdles saw 4 South Jersey athletes advanced as Rachell Armstead of Millville finished 2nd in 8.48 seconds.  The other qualifiers were Dyani Bigelow of Clearview (4th, 9.00), Millville’s Alexia Lee (5th, 9.08), and Taliya Rogers of Rancocas Valley (9.18).

In the vertical events South Jersey qualified 5 athletes.  Sydne Nance was the top SJ placer in the high jump where her 5 foot 2 inch clearance earned second place.  She tied the eventual winner had more misses.  The other SJ qualifier in the high jump was Tamika Voltaire who cleared 5 feet for 6th.  In the pole vault Lenape senior Shannon Storms cleared 9 feet 6 inches for 2nd.  Storm’s teammate Gabby Sharp finished 4th in 8 feet 6 inches, and Kingsways Erin Gray closed out SJ qualification with an 8 foot performance.  

Group 1, Central Jersey

Haddon Township comes through in Central

Senior Owen Long will have to wait another week to take on his traditional South Jersey rivals but even from afar he made a statement.  His Central Jersey winning time of 9:34.75 positions him as the #1 seed in Saturday’s Group 1 State Championship 3200 meter.  Kateryan Swan highlighted the Haddon Township girls action as she won the high jump on misses over Lucia Gambuzza of Jonathan Dayton HS.  Both athletes cleared 5 feet.  Other Haddon Township qualifiers included Joe Domanico in the 3200 (3rd, 9:48.89), Randy Ladd in the 1600 (3rd, 4:29.28), Jake Dinnerman in the 800 (5th, 2:04.85), Julian Govenette in the shot (46’10.25), Annika Merkh in the girls 800 (5th, 2:27.69), and Lauren DeAngelo in the girls vault (4th, 7’6).

This Week in SJ Track: The Haddonfield Show

Toms River, NJ:  The John Bennett Indoor Complex played host to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 and 4 Sectional Championships this past Saturday.  The Group 1 competitions had a familiar but never stale result as Haddonfield registered a boys, girls sweep.  

Group 1 Boys:

Haddonfield Frosh Phenoms Bolster Senior Star

Haddonfield won its 3rd straight South Jersey Group 1 Championship this past Saturday defeating A.P Schalick 78.5 to 43.  A.P. Schalick Coach Stephen Pierangeli, whose Cougars 2nd place finish was a staggering improvement from last years 9th place showing, said he, “continue(s) to be impressed by the domination of Haddonfield.”  

The Dawgs were lead Boston University bound Greg Pelose who won the 1600 (4:20.03) and 800 meter (1:57.97) races.  His 800 meter performance was a Haddonfield School Record.  Pelose also scored in the 3200 (5th, 10:14.01) but teammate Colin Gallagher came out on top with his first major championship victory in 10:02.22.  The Senior leaders were bolstered by two freshman phenoms.  Luke Colehower continued his unbelievable freshman season winning the 400 and breaking his own school record with a time of 50.85 seconds.  He returned later in the meet to place 4th in the 55 dash (6.83) and lead off the Dawg’s 2nd place 4×400 relay (3:36.78).  Another Haddonfield freshman made huge contributions to the team victory.  Derek Gess (brother of Briana) came in 2nd to Pelose in the 1600 (4:28.53) and the 800 (2:02.03 PR).  He also capped off the 4×4 his freshmen compatriot sparked.  Other Haddonfield individual scorers included: Brandon Quanci (3200, 4th, 10:13.55); Grady Carr (HJ, T-6th, 5’6); and Sam Rivard (SP, 5th, 42’3).  

A.P. Schalick’s Samuel Gerstenbacher continued to show improvement in the 1600 with his second consecutive sub 4:30 performance and 3rd place finish in 4:29.45.  Gerstenbacher’s teammate Cosmo Pirozzi lead the other qualifiers in 4:40.90.  He was followed by Pennsville’s Zachary Pope (4:42.69), and Haddon Heights Junior Eric “Rice” Rosenheim (4:43.53).  In the 800, Pelose and Gess were followed by qualifiers Giovanni Aracena of Pleasantville (2:02.95), Cosmo Pirozzi of Schalick (204.32), Buena’s Billy Francz (2:07.35), and Tom Bardon of Gateway (2:07.89).  Gerstenbacher was also the first non-Haddonfield finisher in the 3200 where he placed 2nd in 10:05.81.  He was followed by James Snyder of Pitman (10:09.44), Quanci, Pelose, and Adam Quann of Pennsville (10:15.55).  

Jason Staefanski of Penns Grove proved victorious in the 55m Hurdles with a winning time of 7.85 seconds.  That time was 3/10ths of a second faster than his trial time.  He was followed by Kyle McNeely of Audubon (7.96), Jael Hernandez of Schalick (8.38), Thomas Akins of Buena (8.40), Clayton’s Tom Cliver (8.60), and Darius Burden of Woodstown (8.62).  

Audubon Junior Kyle Limbaga won the 55 dash in 6.76 seconds over Schalick’s Julani Carter (6.82).  They were followed by Ramon Bentley of Salem (6.82), Colehower, Julian Norman from Woodstown(6.94), and Haddon Heights Freshman Anthony DeVan (6.95).  In the last track event of the day, the 4×400 relay, Woodstown’s Barius Burden, Jack Danner, Andrew Horner, and Julian Norman teamed up for a 3:36.58 victory over Haddonfield.  They were followed by Audubon (3:40.77), Pleasantville (3:41.14), Penns Grove (3:44.44). and Schalick (3:48.89).

In the field Pleasantville’s Jean Brevil notched a narrow victory in the shot put with a toss of 47’2.  An inch and a half behind Brevil was Avory Ransome of Penns Grove. LaQuay Bishop, also of Pleasantville, finished 3rd with a throw of 45’7.75.  He was followed by Jaquan Solomon of Woodbury (45’3.75), Rivard, and Dae’shawn Robinson of Penns Grove (41’9.75).

Tarik Robinson of Penns Grove defeated Rahsaan Hayes from Woodbury on misses in the high jump.  Both jumpers cleared 6 feet.  They were followed by Glassboro Freshman John Wallace (5’10), Juan Casiano of Schalick (5’8), and Andrew Horner of Woodstown (5’8).  Kyle Limbaga of Audubon and Grady Carr of Haddonfield tied for the last spot and both qualified with jumps of 5 feet 6 inches.

Gateway’s Steven VanderMeer won the pole vault by a foot with a clearance of 12 feet 6 inches.  Woodstown’s Shane Lister (11’6) placed second.  VanderMeer’s teammate Jarrett Bullock was 3rd with an 11 foot clearance and Pennsville’s Spencer Walker placed 4th (10’6).  Trent Lowe of Schalick placed 5th.  He also cleared 10 feet 6 inches.  The final qualifier was Alec Labb of Pennsville who cleared 10 feet.  

Group 1 Girls:

Haddonfield Girls Dominate South Jersey Group 1

If you place in the top 6 at a Sectional Championship two things happen: 1) you qualify for the State Group Meet, and 2) you score a minimum of 1 point for your team.  The Haddonfield girls qualified 15 athletes!  There are 10 events at the indoor sectional meet.  The Haddonfield girls scored in 9!!  If you win an event at Sectionals you earn 10 team points.  The Haddonfield girls won 7!!!  In all Haddonfield scored 124 points and defeated a solid second place Audubon by 85.5 points.  What a day for the Dawgs!  

Haddonfield was lead by Junior star Briana Gess who won every event she entered.  Gess earned victories in the 400 meters (60.24), the 800 (2:19.46), the 1600 (5:03.25), and the 3200 (11:26.1).  Other Haddonfield event winners included Ana Buzzard who set a personal record of 7.46 second to win the 55 dash, Bridget Kane who cleared 4 feet 10 inches to win the high jump, and the 4×400 relay which consisted of Bridget Kane, Kaitlyn Bonnet, Lizzy Mulvenna, and Nicolette Barranger (4:17.33).  

The only non-Haddonfield track victory was registered by Freshman India Norman of Woodstown who had an absolutely dramatic time drop from the trials to the final in the 55 meter hurdles.  She ran 9.59 seconds in the prelims and entered the finals a distant 3rd seed.  In the final she dropped an astonishing 3 / 4 of a second for the victory in 8.84 seconds.  She was followed by qualifiers Rachael Leyrer of Buena (9.31), Audubon’s Danielle Nicklas (9.35), Lizzie Mulvenna of Haddonfield (9.66), and Schalick teammates Avery Bramell (9.69) and Olivia Moore (10.03).

The shot put was won by Sophomore Zyra Thomas of Schalick (36’8) who won by nearly 2 feet over Jennifer Figueroa of Pleasantville (34’10).  Haddonfield Megan Helf was 3rd in 29 feet 10 inches.  She was followed by Gateway’s Gianna Gismondi (29’1.25), Hannah Carr of Haddon Heights (28’4.75), and Na’Tanya Bryant of Woodbury (27’11.5).  

The Pole Vault was won by Rachel Ondricek of Pennsville who outclassed the competition with a 9 foot 6 inch clearance.  The other qualifiers were Haddon Heights Sophomore Morgan Raws (7’6) and Rebecca Martin of Woodbury (7’0).

Following Gess in the 400 meters were qualifiers Rebekah Clark of Pleasantville (61.25), Danielle Nicklas of Audubon (62.23), hurdles champion Norman (62.95), Nicolette Barringer of Haddonfield (63.33), and Woodstown’s Neshani Biegen (64.40). Haddonfield teammate Kaitlyn Bonnet followed Gess in the 800 with a time of 2:22.10.  Other qualifiers included Molly Furlong of Audubon (2:25.03), Meg Schroeter of Haddonfield (2:27.84), Haddon Heights’ Claudia Bowman (2:31.30), and Alyssa Sanders of Pitman (2:33.02).  

Behind Buzzerd in the 55 meter dash were qualifiers Rebekah Clark of Pleasantville (7.51), Gabrielle Dillard of Clayton (7.57), Haddonfield’s Layla Watkins (7.67), Freshman Morgan Bull of Haddon Heights (7.70), and Danielle Nicklas of Audubon (7.74).  In the 1600 meters Haddonfield’s Bonnet placed second to teammate Gess in 5:19.28.  They were followed by Olivia Gerstenbacher of Schalick (5:32.32) whose brother qualified in the boys race.  Other qualifiers included Casey Clarke of Haddonfield (5:37.63), Courtney Catlin of Pennsville (5:38.10), and Buena’s Kristin Siegle (5:42.03).

The 3200 followed the theme of the meet:  It was a Haddonfield affair.  Behind Gess were her teammates Lauren Lynch (12:08.06) and Casey Clarke (12:14.31).  They were followed by Gerstenbacher in 12:15.37.  Between the 1600 and 3200 two families consisted of 33% of the boys and girls qualifiers (Gess’, Gerstenbachers).  Holly Schaffer of Audubon finished 5th in 12:26.20, while Woodstown’s Isabel Gallatig closed out qualification in 12:36.64.  

In the last track event of the day (the 4×400 relay) Haddonfield was followed by qualifiers Audubon (4:19.66), Woodstown (4:20.70), Pleasantville (4:23.06), Buena (4:31.77), and Glassboro (4:31.79).  Alyssa Davis of Audubon just narrowly missed out on victory in the high jump.  Her clearance of 4 feet 10 inches tied for the best performance of the day with Haddonfield’s Kane but Kane squeaked out the win on misses.  Other high jump qualifiers included Tiana Jones of Woodstown (also 4’10), and Claudia Bowman of Haddon Heights (4’6).  The final qualifiers tied for 5th place with a 4’6 clearance.  They were Danielle Swilley of Woodstown and Emily Hagan of Audubon.   
Tomorrow: Group 4 Recap and Haddon Township’s Central Jersey Excursion

Pleasantville grad Nia Ali hurdles her way to World #3 time in hurdles

1d0a09b8-1d3f-4687-abed-ad0b4578c068Pleasantville High grad Nia Ali, one of the top hurdlers in the world, ran within 1-10th of a second of her PR Saturday at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix in Roxbury, Mass.

Ali, the world indoor champ, ran 7.89 to finish second to Brianna Rollins, who won with a 7.87.

The time is a season-best for Ali and it’s within 9-100ths of a second of her PR of 7.80, which she ran in 2014 at Ergo Arena, a facility in Poland half of which is in Sopot and half of which is in Gdańsk.

That time makes Ali No. 16 in world history.

Ali’s time Saturday is No. 3 in the world, behind two Americans —  Kendra Harrison, the indoor and outdoor NCAA champ last year for Kentucky, who has run 7.82 this winter, and Rollins with her 7.87.

Ali began her high school career at West Catholic in Philly at 45th and Chestnut – about a mile west of Franklin Field – before finishing at Pleasantville, where she was the 2006 New Jersey Meet of Champions winner indoors and outdoors.

She ran collegiately at Tennessee, where she focused on the heptathlon, and then transferred to USC, where she focused on the hurdles.

Ali is now based in Southern California and runs for Nike.

She’ll return to the Northeast this weekend to race at the 103rd annual Millrose Games at the 168th Street Armory.


Palmyra’s rapidly improving Yanick leads Group 1 shot put field

Palmyra senior Matt Yanick re-affirmed his rightful spot atop the New Jersey Group 1 shot put field Friday when he won the Central Jersey Group 1 title with a 51-3 throw.

Yanick won by more than four feet over senior Julian Govenette of Haddon Township, who threw 46-10 1/4.

Yanick has been the state’s best Group 1 thrower all year and has a PR and school record of 52-7 1/2 from the South Jersey Throwdown at Cherokee on Tuesday night. He first entered the 50-foot ranks at another Throwdown at Cherokee back in mid-January.

But don’t get used to seeing him bomb these 50-foot throws every weekend.

Yanick’s track career is almost over.

More on that later.

First, let’s take a look at what he’s accomplished and what he still has to shoot for.

√ Yanick on Friday became Palmyra’s first sectional shot put champ in 12 years, since Kyle Myers won the South Jersey Group 1 title outdoors in 2004 with a 50-0 ¾ throw at Egg Harbor.

√ Yanick’s winning throw is the best at any Group 1 sectional in six years, since two throwers in 2010, one from South Jersey, one from North Jersey.

√ The only throwers since the inception of the indoor sectionals in 2008 to throw farther than Yanick in Group 1 action are Dontae Rivera of Pleasantville, who did it twice  [54-3  in both 2011 and 2012], and Patrick Cole of Hasbrouck Heights, who won the 2011 North Jersey Section 1 meet with a throw of 52-3.

√ Yanick’s winning throw is second-best of any shot putter in any South Jersey sectional this winter, behind only Timber Creek’s Osemwingie Asemota, who threw 54-5 1/2 to win Group 3.

√ Yanick’s winning throw is second-best of any shot putter in any South Jersey sectional this winter, behind only Timber Creek’s Osemwingie Asemota, who threw 54-5 1/2 to win Group 3.

√ Yanick is the No. 1 seed in Group 1 states Friday back in Toms River. He’ll be trying to become Palmyra’s first state champion in the shot put in 28 years, since Ron Trampe’s shot put-discus double at outdoor states – 52-11 1/2 and 148-11.

So why is Yanick’s career coming to a close when he’s improving so much?

His first love is baseball, and as soon as Meet of Champions is over, he’ll join the Palmyra baseball team, and next fall he’ll start at Rutgers, where he’ll also play baseball.

But there are still a few meets to go and a few records to chase before Yanick starts hitting a round ball as far as he can instead of throwing it as far as he can.

OMG SHE’S BACK!!!!!!! Erin Donohue blasts 4:29 mile at the Armory!!!!!!!!

UnknownIt’s been a long time since Erin Donohue ran like this. After years of injuries, surgeries and rehab, it sure looks like the former Haddonfield Bulldog and U.S. Olympian is back.

And almost as good as ever.

Donohue made an astonishing return to the Armory this weekend and finished second in a loaded mile in the Armory Track Invitational with a 4:29.67, just half a second behind Canadian Gabriela Stafford, who won in 4:29.07.

How fast is 4:29.67?

√ Donohue now ranks fifth among U.S. women this indoor season in the mile. Here’s a look at the top five:

  • 4:26.01 … Shannon Rowbury
  • 4:27.88 … Kim Conley
  • 4:28.30 … Kate Grace
  • 4:28.47 … Stephanie Garcia
  • 4:29.67 … Erin Donohue

√ Her time is also No. 6 on the 2016 indoor world list, according to the IAAF:

  • 4:26.01 … Shannon Roxbury (USA)
  • 4:27.88 … Kim Conley (USA)
  • 4:28.30 … Kate Grace (USA)
  • 4:28.47 … Stephanie Garcia (USA)
  • 4:29.07 … Gabrielle Stafford (Canada)
  • 4:29.67 … Erin Donohue (USA)

√ Donohue raced within a second of her indoor PR of 4:28.92 set on the same Armory track more than six years ago at the 2010 New Balance Elite meet and was only about three seconds off her overall PR of 4:26.48, set eight years ago in Rieti, Italy.

√ The performance was Donohue’s fastest indoors since that 4:28.92. She hasn’t run this fast outdoors since 2009! That summer she ran 4:27.91.


This Week in SJTrack: SJ Group 3

Toms River, NJ:  The John Bennett Indoor Complex played host to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 and 3 Sectional Championships this past saturday.  In Group 3 Highland Boys captured the title on the back of strong distance performances, while the Winslow Girls used speedsters to cruize a title.  Delsea Girls earned Group 2 honors by scoring in all but one event and their male counterpart Willingboro grasped victory through bursts of scoring in middle distance and explosive events.  

Group 3 Boys

Heading into the South Jersey Group 3 Championship, Highland High School had won three consecutive titles.  The fourth would prove a challenge as the school moved from Group 2 (where they had won the three previous titles) to Group 3 (comprised of larger schools).  Under the leadership of Seniors Jose Figueroa and Sean David the Tartans overcame the group change and captured the title over a surprise second place Timber Creek squad.  Figueroa registered two personal records and scored 20 points as he raced to first place finishes in the 1600 (4:29.54) and 3200 (9:44.86) meters.  Sophomore Ben Woodward added to the Highland point total with a second place finish in the 3200 (9:48.44), while senior Jason Leonardo (6th, 4:38.86) notched a point in the 1600.  David earned important points in the 55 meter high hurdles where he won in 7.72 seconds, the high jump where he placed 4th with a 6 foot jump, and in the 4×400 where he lead off the 6th place Tartan team.  Highland Senior Michael Calabrese finished out the Highland scoring with a 5th place finish in the shot put (48’2.75).  

Other South Jersey qualifiers in the 3200 meters were Daniel Do (3rd, 9:59.22) of Absegami, Joseph Dougherty (4th, 9:59.38) of Hammonton, and sophomores Jesse Schmeizer (5th, 10:06.61) and Korey Green (10:08.62) of Ocean City.  In the 1600 Figueroa was followed by Joseph Dougherty who ran a personal record of 4:31.67 for 3rd, Harrison Mooris (4th, 4:34.86) of Moorestown, and Evan Schmeizer (5th, 4:35.40) of Ocean City.  The other South Jersey scorers in the 55 meter hurdles were Winslow’s Jamil Adams (2nd, 7.81), Johnathan Nguyen of Absegami (3rd, 8.07), Mainland’s Kenny Anderson (4th, 8.24), and Devante Watson also from Winslow (6th, 8.51).  

Timber Creek has been keeping the track warm all winter in the 400.  They continued that solid running with a 2, 3, 4 finish in the open 4 and a scorching 3:23.7 victory in the 4×400.  That 4×400 time is the #3 time in New Jersey this winter and the fastest on a flat track. The Creekers were outdone in the open 4 by Pennsauken standout Marquan Jones who won the event in 50.76 seconds.  He convincingly pulled away from hard charging Chargers Jason Butler (2nd, 51.48), Cameron Stinson (3rd, 51.6), and Jerome Gibson (4th, 51.9).  The TC trio were followed by Winslow’s Jamil Adams (5th, 52.01) and Pennsauken’s Martin Booker (6th, 52.43).

Butler (50.7), Gibson (50.9), and Stinson (50.5) were joined by teammate Dante Witcher (51.3) in their 4×400 victory.  Timber Creek was followed by SJ qualifiers Pennsauken (2nd, 3:30.04), Winslow (3rd, 3:30.51), Bridgeton (4th, 3:32.16), and Highland (6th, 3:35.78).  Creek Assistant Coach Mike Short was happy with the performance but noted they were, “hoping to improve and to be a top seed at states and MOC.”  

Pennsauken Junior Martin Booker won the 55 meter dash with the two fastest times of the day.  He ran 6.58 seconds in his trial heat to earn lane preference in the final.  He capitalized with a 6.56 second finals victory over Winslow Sophomore James Bettis who ran 6.65.  Rounding out the top 6 were Anthony Maturano (3rd, 6.69) from Hammonton, Nahzir Russell (4th, 6.72) of Pennsauken, Stinson (5th, 6.74), and Jones (6th, 6.76).  

In other track action Absegami Senior Bobby Maguire won the 800 meters in 2:01.08.  He was followed by South Jersey qualifiers  Zion Watson (2nd 2:02.35) from Winslow, Moorestown’s Kevin Fox (4th, 2:02.99), Ocean City’s Brendan McClure (5th, 2:03.09), and Philip Iuliucci from Hammonton (6th, 2:03.41 PR).

The Pole Vault saw a victory for Moorestown Senior Kyle Loveland with a 12 foot, 6 inch clearance.  Loveland and his Moorestown teammates were granted school board approval to compete in the meet as they do not have an official winter team.  After reviewing entry numbers for the Central Jersey Sectional Moorestown was moved to their geographically natural section and Loveland was able to come through with a 1’6” victory.  Zachary Lisa of Ocean City finished in a 2nd place tie with Central regional’s Keith Holland.  Both athletes cleared 11 feet.  Tyler Kott of Cumberland and Jeremiah Muntazar of Absegami both qualified when they tied for 5th with 10’6 inch performances.  

After false starting in the 55 meter hurdles Matt Grillo needed to focus.  The high jump’s technical intricacies demand it.  Clearing 6 feet, 2 inches Grillo displayed his concentration and earned the South Jersey title.  2nd through 6th place all cleared 6 feet.  The 5 way tie was broken by misses and the athletes finished in the following order: Anthony Maturano of Hammonton 2nd, Bridgeton’s Mikal Wright 3rd, Highland’s David 4th, and Winslow teammates Keir Smalls and Isaiah Jones 5th and 6th.  

Timber Creek Senior Osemwingie (Joe) Asemota was South Jersey’s top finisher in the shot put.  His substantial toss of 54 feet, 5.5 inches earned him second place honors to Toms River East’s Dan Gillian (57’3.5).  The only other South Jersey shot put qualifier was Highland’s Calabrese.  

Group 3 Girls

The Winslow girls sent a clear message in the first event of day: No one was beating them.  Flora Ahiarakwe (1st, 60.34), Brittany Preston (2nd, 60.44) and Iyianna Williams (3nd, 61.75) swept the event, captured 24 points, and dared the other teams to chase them.  Coach George Horn understatedly describe the meet this way, “Winslow girls put it together for this one.”  In defense of their crown the Eagles added 3 more victories and outpaced 2nd place Timber Creek.  Creek Coach Mike Short was disappointed but said, “The best team won.  Winslow was on a mission.  Great Team win.  Great coaching, talent, effort, and result.”  3rd place Seneca’s Coach Karen O’Neil agreed with Short: “Winslow had a tremendous day, and no team could match their performance on Saturday.”  Other 400 meter South Jersey qualifiers included Cheyenne Beattie of Timber Creek (4th, 62.24), Seneca’s Graycee Heinemann (5th, 62.27), and Creek’s Ziani Smalls (6th, 63.0).

Winslow’s other three victories came in the 55 meter hurdles, the shot put, and the 4×400 meter relay.  Senior Brittany Preston improved her trials time by over 2 tenths of a second to capture the win in 6.36 seconds.  Absegami Juniors Joshonda Johnson and Cyann Moyer were 2nd and 3rd in 8.43 and 8.65 seconds respectively.  Christine Lavallias of Timber Creek was 4th in 8.84, while Absegami’s third qualifier (Mariah Hubbard, 8.87) finished 5th.  Nicole Berry of Winslow was the last qualifier and added another point to the Eagle total.  

The shot put was won by Sophomore Ciarra Johnson of Winslow who outdistanced 2nd place with a 37 feet, 5.75 inch throw.  Gabriel Harris-David of Timber Creek was second in 36’10.5.  She was followed by South Jersey qualifiers Maddie Branway (35’10.25) of Ocean City and Kiey’nay’ja Hunley (34’3) from Pennsauken. Winslow sealed the deal when Williams, Ahiarakwe, Ally Moorison, and Preston teamed up for a 4:06.09 win the 4×400.  They were followed by SJ qualifiers Absegami (4:07.99), Highland (4:11.77), Timber Creek (4:12.06), and Seneca (4:12.84).

Kayla Martin set a goal to continue her outstanding season with two individual wins at the South Jersey Sectional Meet.  She accomplished that goal winning the 800 meters in 2:19.48 and the 1600 in 5:11.93. Winslow’s Nicole Berry (2:21.91) ran a 5 second PR to finish second in the 800.  She was followed by Highland Sophomore Kalin Priest who finished 3rd in 2:22.32.  Seneca qualified all three athletes in the event as Martin’s teammates Sydny Warner (2:25.29) and Kayla Hay (2:25.41) finished 4th and 5th.  Timber Creek Junior Alexa “Not Clarke” Clark rounded out qualification with a 6th place finish in 2:27.56.  

In the 1600 Martin was followed closely by Cross Country Runner of the Year Alyssa Aldridge of Mainland who ran 5:12.55.  In 3rd was Timber Creek’s Alyssa Condell in 5:14.79.  Other South Jersey qualifiers were Triton Junior Kelsey Cummings (4th, 5:18.57), and Seneca’s Warner in 5:20.91 for 6th.

1600 meter runner up Alyssa Aldridge returned with avengence in the 3200 where she lapped the field and ran meet and school records with a time of 10:47.06.  After running 5:12.55 for the open 1600, Aldridge blew the race apart with a 5:14 first 1600 of the 3200.  Creek’s Condell returned for 2nd in 11:29.14, while Triton’s Cummings finished 3rd in 11:37.23.  Amanda Bakley from Pennsauken finished 4th in 11:48.83.  Ashley Ranere became the first Hammonton girl ever to qualify for the Indoor State Meet with her 5th place finish in 12:00.91 and Seneca’s Jessica Sprague rounded out of the qualifiers with a time of 12:05.65.  

Highland Junior Donjai Upshaw won the 55m dash in 7.34 seconds.  Brianna Bryan of Pennsauken was second in 7.48 seconds and Winslow’s Ahiarakwe placed 3rd in 7.49 seconds.  Other South Jersey qualifiers included Freshman Tionna Tobias of Winslow in 7.56 and Timber Creeks Adia Starnes in 7.59 seconds.

Seneca’s pole vault phenom Brittney Raffo continued her skyscraping with a meet record vault of 10 feet, 8 inches.  Her teammate Rebecca Bohi finished 3rd with a clearance of 9’6.  Sarah Polistina was 4th on misses.  She also cleared 9’6.  Mainland’s Rachel Thornton was the other SJ qualifier in the pole vault.  She finished 6th when she cleared 8 feet for the first time this season.  

Timber Creek Junior Kai Starnes defeated Absegami Senior Mariah Hubbard on misses in the high jump.  Both athletes cleared 5 feet 2 inches.  Hubbard’s teammate Leah Gaston turned the tables when she beat Creek’s Azhanee Johnson and Winslow’s Tionna Tobias on misses.  All three athletes cleared 5 feet.  Seneca’s Susann Foley was the last South Jersey qualifier with a 4 feet 10 inch clearance that earned her a tie for 6th.  

Gess shatters her 3,200 PR with #4 U.S. performance at Armory

step0002Briana Gess got pushed in a race and for once it wasn’t South Jersey rival Alyssa Aldridge doing the pushing.

On Monday evening, Gess and fellow junior Mary Webb of Pennsbury High in Fairless Hills, Bucks County, hooked up in a memorable battle over 3,200 meters at the Varsity Classic over the fast 200-meter banked track at the Armory.

Webb, a 4:59 miler who rarely runs the deuce, went in with a PR of 11:12 from last spring, and Gess went in with a PR of 10:45.12 from outdoor states her freshman year at Egg Harbor.

Gess kept reeling off 80-second laps and finished with a personal-best 10:40.03, with Webb 40 meters back in 10:48.2.

Gess didn’t break the Haddonfield indoor school record – it’s still 10:38.90 by Olympian Erin Donohue in 2001.

But she did move into the No. 6 spot on the all-time South Jersey indoor list and No. 19 in state history indoors.

Her time is also No. 4 in the U.S this year according to the MileSplit national rankings. Webb, who attends the same school as long-time Eagles Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent, holds the No. 1 mark for 3,200 meters in Pennsylvania so far this winter.

Gess has PRs of 2:13.18 for the 800 and 4:45.97 for the 1,600. This was the first serious 3,200 she’s ever run indoors.

Here’s a look at every South Jersey girl that’s run sub-10:50 indoors:

  • 10:19.30 … Brittany Sedberry (Ocean City), 2006
  • 10:31.06 … Megan Lacy (Cherokee), 2012
  • 10:38.11 … Megan Venables (Highland), 2011
  • 10:38.90 … Erin Donohue (Haddonfield), 2001
  • 10:40.03 … Dina Iacone (Washington Twp.), 2012
  • 10:40.80 … Briana Gess (Haddonfield), 2017
  • 10:42.06 … Holly Bischof (Bishop Eustace), 2012
  • 10:42.42 … Theresa Cattuna (Cherry Hill East), 2007
  • 10:42.71 … Chelsea Ley (Kingsway), 2008
  • 10:45.20 … Devon Grisbaum (Ocean City), 2015
  • 10:46.63 … Erika Kemp (Rancocas Valley), 2013
  • 10:46.9 ….. Michelle Rowen (Washington Twp.), 1983
  • 10:47.06 … Alyssa Aldridge (Mainland Reg.), 2016
  • 10:48.78 … Shelby Cain (Haddonfield), 2014

Sedberry’s seemingly untouchable 10:19, which she ran at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships in 2006, stood as the state record until it was broken by Ashley Higginson.

Gess is a two-time Meet of Champions winner outdoors in the 1,600 and also a former XC Meet of Champions winner. She was a Foot Locker XC finalist this past fall.

Gess also learned this week she’s been selected to run the mile in the Millrose Games at the Armory on Feb. 20.