Pennsauken juniors Bryce Tucker and Joel Oquendo turned in a fast 1-2 finish in the 800 Tuesday night at the SJTCA meet at Ocean Breeze.
Tucker won the race in 1:57.38, fastest in New Jersey this year, and Oquendo followed in second with a massive PR of 1:59.58.
They join Ocean City senior Owen Ritti [1:58.18 at the Armory], Kingsway senior Kyle Rakitis [1:58.68 at the Bubble] and Pitman senior Cole Sharpnack [1:59.51 at the Bubble] as the fourth and fifth South Jersey half-milers under two minutes so far this winter.
For Tucker, fast 800s are nothing new. Although he’s a 400-meter hurdler first and foremost – he won the Meet of Champions as a sophomore last spring in 52.17 – he ran a school-record 1:56.75 at the 2020 Meet of Champions at Ocean Breeze and ran as fast as 1:55.00 outdoors last spring in a meet in Metuchen.
But the race was a huge breakthrough for Oquendo, who came into the race with a PR of 2:05.89 from the Bubble in 2020 and shaved nearly 6 1/2 seconds from it.
Tucker and Oquendo now rank No. 1 and 3 in New Jersey among underclassmen, separated only by Union’s Gabriel Rodriguez, who ran 1:58.86 at the Union County Championships at the Jersey City Armory last month.