In a bizarre twist resulting from an inexcusable official’s error Sunday, Cherokee senior Tyler Jackson became a Meet of Champions winner on Monday.
The Meet of Champions 1,600 was held in two sections Sunday at Ocean Breeze, and Jackson was in the first section.
He ran a heck of a race.
With two laps to go he was in sixth place and came through the 1,200 at 3:15.3. He was still in sixth and a good eight meters back when he came through 1,400 meters at 3:47.7. Even as the pack hit the final backstretch he was in sixth. But he began picking guys off on the back straight and had moved into fourth when they hit the final turn.
He hit the final straight in third but in contact with leaders Rodolfo Sanchez of St. Peter’s Prep and Myles Plummer of Union Catholic. Sanchez dropped back and Jackson began chasing Plummer, who briefly gapped Jackson. But Jackson kept hammering and edged Plummer at the line in 4:18.83.
The FAT splits are messed up, but from the video it looks like ran his final 400 in about 63.5 and his final 200 in 31 seconds.
His 4:18.83 is No. 5 in Burlington County history and a nearly five-second PR for the 1:56 half-miler, who had run 4:23.41 at states.
Normally, a 4:18 will get you onto the medal stand. Jackson’s former teammate, Justin Kelly, ran 4:18.48 two years ago and placed seventh. In 2017 a 4:18 would have won the race.
So Jackson walked off the track with the fastest 1,600 by a South Jersey runner this year and set out to watch the seeded heat to see where he would wind up.
Instead, he saw disaster strike the second section of the 1,600.
When an official inexplicably rang the bell for one lap to go with TWO laps to go, the lead group kicked over the next 200 and stopped when they crossed the line.
Liam Murphy of Allentown and Shaw Powell of CBA were leading the group and with the crowd booing and yelling and screaming they realized what happened and regrouped and ran another lap.
Murphy came through 1,400 meters in 3:37.40 and Shaw in 3:38.29, with Kingsway’s Stone Caraccio in third at 3:42.67. Murphy actually went on to run 4:17 and change including his pit stop.
But on Monday the NJSIAA ruled that they would consider the two sections separate Meet of Champions finals and hand out two sets of medals, one for the first eight runners in the 1,600-meter first section and another for the first eight in the 1,400-meter second section.
So Murphy is the Meet of Champions 1,400 winner, Jackson is the Meet of Champions 1,600 winner, and 16 milers will get medals.
And in case you’re wondering, the South Jersey 1,400 record now belongs to Caraccio.
For more on this story, read Jim Lambert’s outstanding coverage on New Jersey MileSplit:
ALL-TIME BURLINGTON COUNTY INDOOR 1,600 LIST
4:13.56y … Marc Pelerin (Cherokee), 2002
4:16.71y … Dave Forward (Shawnee), 2009
4:18.48 … Justin Kelly (Cherokee), 2018
4:18.50 … Shawn Wilson (Cherokee), 2012
4:18.83 … Tyler Jackson (Cherokee), 2020
4:18.91y … Jon Anderson (Cinnaminson), 2004
4:19.97 … Steven Burkholder (Cherokee), 2010
4:20.09 … Austin Gabay (Cinnaminson), 2019
4:20.46y … Brian Tetreault (Cinnaminson), 2007
4:20.93 … Ryan Garvin (Lenape), 2008
4:21.1h … Eric Lorenz (Holy Cross), 1988
4:21.32 … Shawn Wilson (Cherokee), 4:21.32
4:21.43 … Ethan Wechsler (Cherokee), 2020
4:21.54 … Mark Miller (Shawnee), 2017
4:21.70 … Isaiah Curbelo (Rancocas Valley), 2016
4:22.19y … Rob Novak (Bordentown), 2005
4:22.24 … Kevin Lauer (Lenape), 2018
4:22.36y … Mike Sheehan (Holy Cross), 2008
4:23.15 … Dave DeJong (Shawnee), 1998
4:23.27 … Jon Anderson (Cinnaminson), 2003
4:24.69 … Joshua DeJesus (Rancocas Valley), 2016
4:24.6y … Paul Friedman (Moorestown), 1976
4:24.9y … Johnny Englehardt (Willingboro), 1976
4:25.0y … Vance Watson (Willingboro), 1983
4:25.0h … Keith O’Brien (Shawnee), 1992