Huge breakthrough race for Kingsway junior Kyle Rakitis Saturday at Ocean Breeze.
Rakitis, in his first competitive 1,600 since last year’s state indoor meet, ran 4:17.39, a 4 1/2-second PR, and placed second at the Ocean Breeze Invitational in Staten Island, N.Y.
Rakitis negative-split 2:09.0 and 2:08.4.
His time is No. 19 in South Jersey history and No. 8 in Gloucester County history. Here’s the all-time Gloucester County indoor sub-4:20 list:
4:13.87y … Stone Caraccio [Kingsway], 2020
4:15.52 … Bill Dolan [Clearview], 2014
4:16.0y … Greg Stremmel [Gateway], 1974
4:16.3y … Rich Caton [Woodbury], 1979
4:16.9y … Bob Marino [Williamstown], 1974
4:17.1y … Mike Mantini [Gateway], 1978
4:17.33y … Carmen Cavella [Washington Twp.], 2004
4:17.39 … Kyle Rakitis [Kingsway], 2021
4:17.67y … Sebastien Reed [Pitman], 2020
<u>4:18.21y … Xavier Fraction [Washington Twp.], 2009</u>
4:19.03 … Noah Culbreath [Kingsway, 2014
4:19.40 … Justin Branco [Delsea], 2015
Rakitis’s time is No. 1 in New Jersey during this curtailed indoor season. It’s No. 29 nationally according to the MileSpliut database and No. 8 by a junior. It’s fastest by a South Jersey underclassman in 10 years, since Ocean City’s Erik Johnson ran 4:16.02 to win the 2011 Meet of Champions at the Bubble.
Rakitis lowered his PR from 4:21.91, when he placed 4th at the state Group 4 meet last February at the Bubble, to 4:17.39.
He placed second to Aidan Puffer of Manchester High in Connecticut, who ran 4:14.34. Puffer’s previous PR was 4:17.04 from the Central Connecticut Conference Championships in February of 2020 in New Haven.
Rakitis ran with the lead group of six runners through 600, but on the fourth lap he and Puffer gapped the field. Rakitis closed with 31.9, 32.6, 32.1 and 31.8.
Kingsway’s overall school record is 4:11.84, which Tom Cooke ran when he placed fifth at the 2012 Meet of Champions at Old Bridge.