Five South Jersey athletes – three girls, two boys; four juniors, one senior – go into Sunday’s 52nd annual Meet of Champions as No. 1 seeds.
Let’s take a look at those five:
*JAILYA ASH, EASTERN, 55-METER HURDLES: Ash won the state Group 4 race with a personal-best 8.08, a full 11-100ths of a second faster than anybody else ran in the highs at states. Paramus Catholic senior Mariah Fede, the Parochial A champ, is the No. 2 seed at 8.19. Ash won the Meet of Champions in the 55 last winter at 7.06 and was third last spring in the 100 at the M-of-C but focused the hurdles this season. Ash’s 8.08 is No. 13 in South Jersey history.Twelve South Jersey girls have won the highs at the indoor Meet of Champions, most recently Claudine Smith of Atlantic City last year and Lenaami Morton of Camden in 2017. Ash’s older sister Jewel is also in the field with an 8.38 at states.
*LAUREN PRINCZ, EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, 55-METER DASH: Princz is the top seed in the 55 at 7.12, with four others under 7.20. Princz has a PR of 7.05 from Easterns, which is fastest this year by a New Jersey girl and No. 10 in South Jersey history. She already has a Meet of Champions title after winning the 200 in 23.90 at the outdoor M-of-C her freshman year. Princz is also No. 2 seed in the 200 at 25.01 behind only Mariah Fede of Paramus Catholic, who has a 24.74 to her credit.
*JADE POPE, PENNSAUKEN, 400-METER DASH: Pope ran a PR 56.98 with her second straight win at states to earn the top seed over Nylah Perry of Winslow, who ran 57.33 but has run 56.85 this winter. Pennsauken’s only indoor Meet of Champions winner was Alethia Jenkins in the hurdles in 2000. Pope will also anchor Pennsauken’s No. 8-seeded 4-by-400.
GABRIEL MORONTA, PLEASANTVILLE, 400-METER DASH: Moronta ran a lifetime best 48.79 at Group 2 states to earn the No. 1 seed in the 400 over Liam O’Hara of CBA, who’s second at 49.21. Moronta also won the 800 at states in 1:56.11, which makes him the No. 4 seed, but he does have a 1:54.59 from this winter.
*FLOYD WHITAKER, HIGHLAND, TRIPLE JUMP: Whitaker is the top seed in the triple jump by nearly a foot over Sebasteon Allen of East Orange. Whitaker won states at 46-10 3/4, and Allen jumped 45-11. Whitaker has an indoor PR of 46-10 3/4, but he set a state sophomore record and Meet of Champions record last spring with a 50-2. Whitaker is also the No. 2 seed in the long jump at 23-0 1/2.