The South Jersey Group 4 sectional championships wasn’t decided on the track, it was decided on a computer screen where timing officials ruled that Rancocas Valley anchor Ryan Maggs had finished 1-100th of a second ahead of Millville’s anchor in the 1,600-meter relay.
Going into the race, the final event of the day, Rancocas Valley had 38 points and Jackson had 33 1/3 but the No. 1 seed and heavy favorite in the 4-by-4.
A relay win would increase Jackson’s point total to 43 1/3, which meant R.V. needed six points – third place – to win its first indoor sectional title.
With a lap to go, R.V. was well back of third, but junior anchor Ryan Maggs was gaining.
At the line? Too close to call.
It came down to this:
That’s Maggs on the outside, and remember that’s a photo of a photo that was on a pier of paper, so it’s probably not the best picture, but it was clear to the timers that R.V. had gotten to the line before Millville.
That gave R.V. the six points it needed to outscore Jackson by two-thirds of a point
Rancocas Valley: 44
Jackson: 43 1/3
3:26.79 … Jackson
3:29.54 … Kingsway
3:31.16 … Rancocas Valley
3:31.17 … Millville
3:35.04 … Toms River North
3:35.07 … Washington Township
Junior Rahmir Patterson, junior Gabriel Wilson and senior Gavin Farrell ran the first three 4-by-4 legs, setting up Mags, a 2:01 half-miler who has never run an open indoor 400.
The 3:31.16 was a season-best for R.V.
R.V. is only the fourth South Jersey school to win South Jersey Group 4 since indoor sectionals began in 2008. Egg Harbor Township had won six of the last eight titles, Washington Township won in 2009 and 2011, Lenape won in 2014 and the other titles belonged to Central Jersey schools – Toms River East, Toms River North and Trenton once each.
Let’s take a look at how R.V. got into position to win the team title:
House posted the third-fastest qualifying time in the prelims at 6.70, but he ran 6.52 in the final to edge Egg Harbor’s Ahmad Brock, who ran 6.58 for the win. House ran within 2-100ths of a second of the Group 4 meet record of 6.50, set in 2010 by Absegami’s Rasheed Grande.
Floyd matched his high jump PR of 6-2 to earn the win, and lead a 1-2 R.V. sweep. Floyd’s best events may be the triple jump (44-7 1/2) and long jump (20-8), but since they aren’t contested in New Jersey, he won a sectional title in his next-best event!
Clark’s best event is definitely the long jump. He surpassed 22 feet for the first time at Ocean Breeze last weekend. But he cleared 6-0 and crucially did it on fewer misses than another jumper, which earned him second and six points instead of four.
Patterson, a junior, ran 52.57 in an unseeded heat, and that time bumped three runners in the seeded heat and earned the junior sixth place overall. Without that point, R.V. does not win the team title.
Egg Harbor’s Anthony Vazquez, the Easterns champ, ran away with the final in 7.49, but Darrell, an R.V. senior, took second in 7.70 for eight huge points.
Another crucial point that could have made the difference between a team title and no team title. Wood PR’d with a 44-8 throw for sixth place.
Kingsway placed third with 34 points, and the next six teams were all within six points in an incredibly competitive and balanced group: Millville 28, Toms River North 27, Cherry Hill East 27, Egg Harbor Twp. 22 1/3, Southern Regional 22, Cherokee 22.
There’s no section in the state as competitive as South Jersey Group 4.