Ocean City senior Owen Ritti and Deptford junior Lathan Brown became the seventh and eighth half-milers in New Jersey to run sub-1:58 Monday night at Ocean Breeze. Pennsauken junior Joel Oquendo wasn’t far behind.
Ritti won the SJTCA race in 1:57.41, with Brown a step back in 1:57.91. Oquendo, whose PR was just under 2:06 until last week, PR’d again with a 1:58.57. In all, six runners ran faster than 2:01.5, five of them from South Jersey.
For Ritti, the 1:57.41 smashes his indoor PR of 1:58.18, which he just ran two weeks ago at the Armory. Ritti’s lifetime best is an outdoor 1:57.01 at Group 3 states at Pennsauken in June.
Ritti also broke the Ocean City and Atlantic County indoor 800 records of 1:57.59 set in 2011 by Miles Schoedler at Group 3 states at the Bubble.
Brown, who has range from 55 meters up to 800, smashed his indoor PR of 2:00.47 from a meet a couple weeks ago at Ocean Breeze. He also ran faster than his outdoor PR of 1:59.45 from Haddonfield Distance Night this past May.
Brown also equalled a 53-year-old school record, which doesn’t happen too often. In 1969, Deptford’s Wayne Jenkins ran 1:58.3 hand-timed for 880 yards at the Meet of Champions at the Jersey City Armory – which tied the South Jersey record at the time. That performance converts to 1:57.7. Since a 1:57.91 is the equivalent of a 1:57.7 hand-time, Brown and Jenkins will be listed as co-record holders.
Oquendo had a PR of 2:05.89 until a breakthrough 1:59.58 on the same track at Ocean Breeze last week.
Their times are No. 4, No. 6 and No. 11 in the state this year and No. 2, 3 and 4 in South Jersey, behind Pennsauken junior Bryce Tucker, who ran 1:57.38 at Ocean Breeze last week.
Camden Catholic senior Billy Clewell [2:00.17] and Haddon Heights junior Matthew Iuvara [2:01.22] also put down fast times, moving into the No. 8 and 11 spots this year in South Jersey.
Clewell has run faster indoors – 1:58.56 – but he was doubling back after placing second in the 3,200 in 9:47.13 in his first indoor 3,200 ever. He’s run 9:36.28 in June in a meet in Edison.
According to MileSplit, this was Iuvara’s first high school 800 ever and only his third individual race of any kind ever.