Two South Jersey natives who are now college freshmen hooked up in a titanic long jump battle Saturday at the MAAC Championships in Lawrenceville.
Haddon Heights graduate Jabari Higgs -Salaam, a freshman at St. Peter’s, won the competition by less than an inch over Pennsville graduate Zach Manorowitz, a freshman at Rider.
Both soared over 24 feet for the first in their lives – on back-to-back jumps – and both left the long jump pit with huge PRs.
This is legendary stuff.
Manorowitz has had an incredible freshman year considering his best high school jump was 21-6 at 2019 Group 1 states at Franklin Township. He’s been over 23 feet in every meet he’s entered and brought a PR of 23-5 3/4 into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships Saturday afternoon.
Higgs-Salaam, who had a high school-best of 22-11 from the 2019 Woodbury Relays, brought a PR of 23-7 1/4 into the conference meet from a meet at his home track in Jersey City in early April. He jumped 23-1 1/2 indoors when he placed third at the conference meet at the Armory. (Manorowitz didn’t jump indoors).
On Saturday, the two South Jersey jumpers took their games to another level in a riveting back-and-forth battle for conference honors.
Higgs-Salaam led after the first round with a 23-5 1/2, but Manorowitz took the lead with a 23-6 on his second jump and then improved to 23-7 1/2 on his third jump.
Higgs-Salaam came within three-quarters of an inch of Manorowitz with a 23-6 3/4 on his first jump of the finals and then took the lead with a 24-5 3/4 on his next attempt. Manorowitz, on the very next jump, hit 24-5, this time missing Higgs-Salaam by three-quarters of an inch.
On his sixth and final attempt, Higgs-Salaam hit 24-5 and Manorowitz closed with another 24-foot jump at 24-1 1/2.
So two jumpers who never went 24 feet before both surpassed 24 feet on each of their two final attempts!
Each jumper had five legal jumps of at least 23-5!
Higgs-Salaam averaged 24-0 on his five legal jumps and Manorowitz averaged 23-7 1/2 on his six legal jumps.
What a competition!
I’d love to be able to tell you the last time a MAAC long jump competiti0n was this close or the top two places were both over 24-5, but the conference’s lame web site has no record of previous winners or previous meet results. (Seriously, what do these SIDs do all day?)
Higgs-Salaam came within 2 1/4 inches of the school record of 24-8 1/4 set in 2012 by someone listed on the school’s web site as “A Lucas” in 2012. A few Google clicks revealed that to be Aaron Lucas, who hit 24-8 1/4 at the 2012 IC4A meet at Princeton.
Manorowitz’s 24-5 is No. 2 in Rider history, behind only Desmond Hamilton’s 25-8 1/4 when he placed fifth in the 2007 NCAA Championships.
The previous best long jump by a South Jersey jumper at Rider was 23-10 by Pemberton graduate Tony Johnson in 1988.
Higgs-Salaam 24-5 3/4 was wind-legal at 1.1, and his 24-5 was listed with no wind information.
Manorowitz’s 24-5 was 2.8, but his 24-1 1/2 was wind-legal at exactly 2.0.