Yesterday, we looked at the top South Jersey boys from this past indoor season. Today, it’s the girls’ turn!
Here, thanks to the New Jersey MileSplit database, is a look at the top South Jersey freshmen girls this year. Some truly impressive stuff here and some talented athletes to follow over the next few years!
Click here for the boys list!
As always, please let me know of any errors or omissions in the comment’s section and we’ll get ’em fixed right quick!
As we all get through these weeks together, I’ll be posting tons of historical lists on this blog. My project starting Monday will be boys and girls indoor and outdoor county records for every South Jersey county! We’ll start tomorrow with Atlantic County and go through a different county each day!
If there’s anything you’d like to see, leave me a message in the comment’s section and I’ll do my best to put it together!
55-METER DASH: Paul VI’s Briyel Brown ran a personal-best 7.47 at the Millrose Games but had a series of fast 55’s, including a 7.51 for a big win at Ocean Breeze last month. She was No. 15 in South Jersey overall and the No. 5 freshman in New Jersey, and as you’re about to see she showed great range in her first season of high school track.
200-METER DASH: Briyel Brown only ran two 200s, but her 26.41 at the Hispanic Games at the Armory was No. 1 in the state by a freshman, ahead of a 26.60 that Ajanae Thompson of Union Catholic ran at Ocean Breeze.
300-METER DASH: Janelle Marshall of Cherry Hill West led all South Jersey freshmen at 300 meters with a 43.02 at the Ocean Breeze Freedom Games. She was also No. 2 in the 400 with a 1:00.86, only 4-100ths of a second behind the South Jersey leader (see below). Marshall and Mikayla Surles of Pleasantville were the No. 1 and 2 freshmen in the state, Surles running 43.41 at New Balance. The only faster South Jersey freshman in the last 10 years was Janeya Hammond of Winslow, who ran 41.79 at the 2017 New Balance Games.
400-METER DASH: Once again, it’s Briyel Brown of Paul VI, who led all South Jersey freshmen with a 1:00.82 at the Hispanic Games at the Armory back in early January. That was her last 400 of the indoor season and made her third-fastest in New Jersey, behind only Jenai Berry of Scotch Plains-Fanwood [58.52] and Maameyaa Nyinah of Union Catholic [59.74].
600-METER RUN: There aren’t a ton of opportunities to run the 600 and it’s not an easy race to approach, but Kayla McCormick of Burlington Township ran 2:00.90 for the 600 at the Bishop Loughlin Games at Ocean Breeze back before Christmas in her only venture at 600 meters this winter.
800-METER RUN: We wrote about Cherokee’s Kelsey Niglio in our “Five South Jersey performances you might have missed,” which you can find here. Niglio ran 2:18.61 for 13th at the Meet of Champions, capping a terrific season that also saw her place fifth at sectionals and seventh at states. Her time made her No. 4 freshman in the state and No. 7 nationally, according to the MileSplit U.S. database. She’s also No. 3 in Cherokee history, behind only Monica Olkowski [2:12.46 when she won the 1990 Meet of Champions] and Lisa Burkholder [2:17.23 at 2004 Easterns]. Niglio was also No. 4 freshman in the 1,600 at 5:31.15.
1,000-METER RUN: Jocelyn Rodriguez opened her season back in mid-December with a 3:25.05 for 1,000 meters and that stood up as the top South Jersey time all year by a freshman. Rodriguez also No. 7 freshman in the 800 at 2:30.58.
1,600-METER RUN: Aubrey Pierontoni, the youngest of Kingsway’s three distance-running sisters, PR’d at sectionals with a sixth-place finish in 5:13.7 in a very Deep South Jersey Group 4 race. Pierontoni was also No. 3 in the 800 at 2:24.58 and we’ll get to her 3,200 in a second. Pierontoni was the No. 4 freshman in the state in the 1,600 and No. 21 nationally, according to the MileSplit national database.
MILE: Grace Wassell of Highland ran the full mile at Easterns in 5:13.55, where she was the top freshman in the race, 16-100ths of a second ahead of Sophie Ginsberg, a freshman at White Plains (N.Y.) High School, your writer’s alma mater!
3,200-METER RUN: Aubrey Pierontoni also earned the No. 1 freshman ranking in South Jersey in the 3,200 with her 11:29.19, which was third-fastest in the state among 9th-graders. She ran that 11:29.19 at the stat Group 4 meet.
55-METER HURDLES: Aniya Bush of Williamstown only ran a handful of early-season races, but in her last foray over the 55-meter hurdles she ran a big PR of 9.56, fastest this year among South Jersey freshmen. That came at a SJTCA freshman / novice meet at the BennettcCenter in early February.
HIGH JUMP: Autumn Craig’s high jump PR came as part of her indoor pentathlon at the Marine Corps Holiday Classic at the Armory back in December. Craig cleared 5-0 1/4, and that wound up being No. 3 in the state this year among freshmen, behind only Tenafly’s Norina Khanzada and Howell’s Samantha Strydesky, who both cleared 5-2. Craig was sixth in that pentathlon with 2,497 points, which made her the No. 2 freshman in the country. Paul VI’s Kamryn CIeslik and Mainland’s Emma Crozier-Carole were right behind Craig with 5-0 clearances.
LONG JUMP: Franchesca Richards of Haddonfield had the best long jump mark by a South Jersey freshman girl this winter with her 14-9 at Ocean Breeze back in January. Richards also cleared 4-10 in the high jump at sectionals, which made her tied for No. 4 in South Jersey.
TRIPLE JUMP: Millville’s Craig was also No. 1 in the triple with her 33-5 1/2 at the Archbishop Malloy Stanner Games at the Armory in January in her only triple jump competition of the season. Craig was No. 2 in the state among freshmen in the triple behind Union Catholic’s Alexandra Bonn, who hit 36-7 3/4 at the Meet of Champions.
POLE VAULT: Millville’s Craig, Mainland’s Emma Crozier-Carole and Delsea’s Reese Gebhard all cleared 8-0 to share top freshman honors in South Jersey. Craig hit 8-0 at the Hispanic Games, Gebhard at sectionals and Crozier-Carole at a SJTCA meet at the Bennett Center in December. As we mentioned above, Craig was also No. 1 in the high jump and triple jump, and Crozier-Carole was tied for No. 2 in the high jump. Those three shared the No. 2 ranking in the state behind Montgomery’s Lauren Cashman, who cleared 10-0 five times, including at the Meet of Champions.
SHOT PUT: An injury unfortunately cut her season short after state relays, but Ciara Demarest of Williamstown threw 38-3 at the first Cherokee Throw Down, No. 2 among throwers of all grades this year in South Jersey behind Zhanye Vines of Burlington Township, who threw 38-4 1/2 at states. Demarest was the top freshman in New Jersey and No. 4 nationally, according to the MileSplit database, despite missing the second half of the season. And a shoutout to South Jersey’s No. 2 freshman, Haddon Heights’ Abigail Lelionis, who threw 32-0 and took 4th at South Jersey Group 1 sectionals and then sixth at states. You can read more about Ciara here.
PENTATHLON: Autumn Craig shows up again! Millville’s Craig placed sixth at the Marine Corps Holiday Classic pentathlon at the Armory in December with 2,497 points, which made her the No. 2 freshman in the country this year, behind only Kiyanni Simas of Milford (Mass.) High, who scored 2,644 points at the MSTCA pentathlon at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, Mass., in February.