From the Backstretch by Reuben Frank

Willingboro boys win 13th state title in program history and do it in record-setting fashion!!!!!


Willingboro didn’t just win a state title this weekend, the Chimeras did it in the most dominating fashion imaginable.

The Chimeras won the 13th state title in school history — but first in 16 years — by 43 points, the largest margin ever in Group 1.

A very small but very game Clayton group finished second, the best in school history, with 48 points. More on the Clippers soon.

Willingboro’s 91 points are the second-most in state Group 1 history, behind only Penns Grove’s monster 112 1/2 points in 2013.

For the Boro, the title was a long time coming.

From 1979 through 1994, led by legends such as Carl Lewis, Gerard Reynolds and Lamont Smith, won 10 state titles in a 16-year span.

But the Chimeras won two championships since 1994, both coming in Group 3 during the Mike Morrison Era in 2002 and 2003.

Willingboro’s longest drought without a state title ended Saturday when the Chimeras won that elusive 13th title and their first outdoor championship under coach Martin Booker.

Only CBA and Montclair (21 each) and Glen Ridge (15) have won more state titles than Willingboro. But Glen Ridge hasn’t won one sine 1966 and Montclair has only won two since 1958.

Since Willingboro opened in the fall of 1976, no public school in the state has won more state titles.

In fact, Camden has the second-most with nine, and seven of them were with Booker coaching the Panthers.

Public school NJ titles since 1976
12 … Willingboro
9 … Camden
8 … Asbury Park
8 … Bridgeton
8 … Metuchen
8 … Winslow Twp.
6 … Timber Creek
5 … Plainfield
5 … Woodbury
5 … Bernards
5 … Somerville
5 … Monmouth Regional
5 … Haddonfield

This title was a lot like the others, with Willingboro showing tremendous strength in the sprints, hurdles and throws.

Senior Jayaire King led the way with a monster weekend. We already wrote about his double win on Friday♦♦♦ but King followed that with a third place in the high hurdles with a 14.46 after a PR 14.43 in the trials and then ran a leg on Willingboro’s first-place relay team.

That team, seniors Dinonn Capp, King and Elijah Valme and freshman Jaylen Young, ran 3:21.84 for the win.

He’s only the fifth Willingboro boy to win three gold medals at a state meet. The first four are all absolute legends at the Boro:

♦♦♦ Carl Lewis was the first to triple at a state meet, and he did it as a senior in 1979 (little-known fact that Carl didn’t win a state title until the end of this senior year) when he won the 100-yard dash in 9.9, the 220 in 21.8 and the long jump at 24-5 1/2.

♦♦♦ Gerard Reynolds did it as a junior in Group 3 in 1989. He won the highs in a meet-record 13.8, the intermediates in 54.0 and the long jump in a meet-record 24-3.

♦♦♦ Reynolds did it again in 1990, when he won the Group 4 long jump (24-2 1/2) and intermediates (53.92) and ran on the winning relay team (3:19.24). He didn’t win the 110 highs, although he did win them at the Meet of Champions (along with the long jump).

♦♦♦ Lamont Smith did it in 1991 when he won the Group 4 200 (21.75) and 400 (47.89) and anchored the winning relay team (3:18.0).

♦♦♦ Mike Morrison did it in Group 3 as a junior in 2002 with wins in the high jump (7-0) and long jump (22-11 3/4) and a leg on the winning relay team, which ran 3:15.71.

Senior Emmanuel Lewis III also had a huge day, winning the discus at 160-6 and the shot put at 48-0 for 16 big points. He’s the first state discus champ Willingboro has ever had (although Greg Hardy of Willingboro Kennedy won Group 3 in 1988 with a 155-1 throw and went on to win the Meet of Champions at 169-2).

Juniors Kameron Smith and Nate Robertson went 1-3 in the high jump, Smith at 6-6 and Robertson with a 6-4.

Junior Zaire Clements and Valme both medaled in two sprints, Clements with a fourth in the 100 (11.31) and sixth in the 200 (22.67) and Valme with a fifth in the 200 (22.64) and sixth in the 400 (50.61).

Kevin Peterson PR’d at 14.70 for fourth in the high hurdles and junior Dontavis Wilson took fifth in the pole vault.

The Boro also took second in the 4-by-100 in 43.34, behind Clayton’s 42.25. Young, Clements, Smith and Valme ran for the Chimeras.