Kingsway junior Kyle Rakitis ran the 2nd-fastest 1,600 or mile in South Jersey history Friday evening, nipping U.S. No. 6 Jackson Braddock at the line at the South Jersey Group 4 sectionals at Washington Township.
Rakitis won the race in 4:08.58, finishing 7-100ths of a second ahead of Southern Regional’s Jackson Braddock, who ran 4:08.65. The race was run in perfect conditions but after all the runners had to wait through a long weather delay. Braddock ran 4:06.25 last month at the Ocean County Championships at Jackson Liberty.
The times would have been the two-fastest ever run at any New Jersey sectional meet, but Braddock has been DQ’d for forcing Rakitis out on the final straight, and the official results have been updated to move Cherokee sophomore Patrick Ditmars into second place .
In any case, Rakitis’s time is second-fastest in South Jersey history behind only Brett Johnson of Ocean City, whose 4:08.51 full mile in 2009 in a meet at Monmouth University in West Long Branch converts to 4:07.07 for 1,600 meters.
His time is also No. 23 in state history and fastest by a New Jersey junior since Chris Marco of Toms River South ran 4:07.31 at the 2012 Meet of Champions at Old Bridge.
Rakitis’s previous PR was 4:10.15, which he ran at Holmdel three weeks ago. Before May, his PR was 4:17.39 set indoors at Ocean Breeze in March. His outdoor PR was 4:28.66 from June of 2019 before he missed the entire 2020 season.
He broke the long-standing Gloucester County record of 4:10.24 converted from a mile, set in 1979 by Gateway’s Mike Mantini.
With his performance, Rakitis broke a 38-year-old state sectional record.
New Jersey legends J.J. Clark and John Carlotti shared the record for previous fastest 1,600 or mike at a New Jersey sectional meet.
Clark of Columbia ran 4:10.2 to win the North Jersey Section II Group 4 race at Mendham in 1982 and Carlotti of Bernards matched him with a 4:10.2 to win the Central Jersey Group 1 race in 1983 at South Plainfield. Both were run at 1,600 meters.
The previous overall South Jersey sectional and S.J.-4 record was 4:12.43, run by Bill Dolan of Clearview in 2014.
Here’s a look at the fastest 1,600 / mile times in state history, with 1,600s converted using the usual method:
3:59.8h … Marty Liquori [Essex Catholic], 1967
4:03.29 … Edward Cheserek [St. Benedict’s Prep], 2013
4:03.49 … Robby Andrews [Manalapan], 2009
4:05.01 … Sean Dolan [Hopewell Valley], 2019
4:05.69 … Ben Malone [Pascack Valley], 2013
4:07.07 … Jim Nielsen [Bernards], 1984
4:07.66 … Joe Rosa [West Windsor-Plainsboro North], 2011
4:07.68c … Jackson Braddock [Southern Regional], 2021
4:07.70 … Jim Rosa [West Windsor-Plainsboro North], 2011
4:08.07 … Pat Schellberg, Delbarton, 2010
4:08.10 … John Carlotti [Bernards], 1983
4:08.1h … Roger Jones [Ramsey], 1977
4:08.51 … Brett Johnson [Ocean City], 2021
4:08.74c … Chris Marco [Toms River South], 2012
4:08.79c … Craig Forys [Colts Neck], 2007
4:09.2h … Steve O’Connell [Millburn], 1976
4:09.3h … Kevin Byrne [Paramus Catholic], 1977
4:09.36 … Steve Schadler [Bergenfield], 1984
4:09.55c … Liam Tansey [Morris Hills], 2009
4:09.72 … Stephen Lewandowski [Mountain Lakes], 2012
4:09.80 … Matt Mitchell [CBA], 1988
4:09.98 … Chris Lear [Pingry], 1992
4:10.02 … Kyle Rakitis [Kingsway], 2021
4:10.24 … Drew Maher [Shore Regional], 2018
4:10.40 … Drake Anzano [CBA], 2016
Let’s not forget Rakitis broke a pretty good school record. Tom Cooke ran 4:11.84 to place fifth at the 2012 Meet of Champions at Old Bridge – the same race Marco ran his 4:07.