For all the tremendous athletes who’ve competed for the Rancocas Valley boys track team at Easterns, none of them had ever won an individual event.
Dave Bannar placed 3rd in the 60-yard hurdles in 1976, 1-10th of a second behind winner Paul Snipes of Essex Catholic. Phil Reid was 3rd in the 200 in 2006, only 11-100ths behind winner Andre Pinnock of Sheepshead Bay. Terrance Howard placed 2nd in the high jump in 1998 at 6-6 on more misses vs. Tony Cordo of Monsignor Farrell. Just a few years ago, in 2017, Iverson Clement long jumped 22-6 ½, finishing just 3 ¾ inches behind winner Emmanuel Oguntoyne of Amityville, N.Y.
But no winners.
It’s fair to say David Godbolt is one of the more surprising Easterns winners in the meet’s 87-year history.
Godbolt is an R.V. sophomore who never competed in track until last spring and had a high jump PR of 5-6 just 10 weeks ago.
And it usually takes at least a 6-8 or 6-10 to win the Easterns high jump. The meet has produced 12 7-footers and over 40 jumpers who’ve cleared 6-10.
But on Tuesday night at the 168th Street Armory in New York, Godbolt won himself a championship as the only one of four jumpers to clear 6-0 clean at the 87th annual Easterns.
Godbolt and seven others, including Egg Harbor junior Ahmad Fogg, cleared opening height of 5-8, and Godbolt and Fogg were among five who cleared on their first attempt. Five jumpers cleared 5-10 but only Godbolt and Adam Elkhouly of Jackson Memorial on their first try.
With the bar at 6-0, Godbolt and Nate Alvarez of Archbishop Stepinac of White Plains, N.Y., cleared on their first attempt, Fogg on his second and Elkhouly on his third.
When nobody cleared 6-2, Goldbolt got the win because he had no misses at any height. Alvarez was 2nd because he was clean at 5-10, and Fogg took 3rd because he cleared 6-0 on fewer attempts than Elkouly.
It really is quite an accomplishment considering this is Godbolt’s first year of indoor track, he’s needed treatment on a sore back for the last two weeks, he’s only a sophomore, and he just cleared 6-0 for the first time two weeks ago. He’s now raised his PR half a foot since late December.
Godbolt is the first South Jersey sophomore to win a title at Easterns in 14 years, since Jonathan Vitez of Haddonfield won the two-mile in 2008. He’s the first Burlington County soph to win an Easterns title since John Meekins of Cinnaminson won the long jump as a soph in 1987.
He’s South Jersey’s first Easterns high jump champ since Ameer Banks of Delsea in 2015 and the first from Burlington County since Mike Morrison won his second title in a row in 2003.
He’s also tied for the No. 1 spot in New Jersey this year among sophomores. Zaimer Wright of Sayreville cleared 6-0 at a meet at the Bubble back in December.
Godbolt’s indoor season is over, but if he continues improving at the rate he’s improved over the last year, big things are in store for the R.V. soph.
All-time South Jersey Easterns winners
1961 … Leonard Smith (Edgewood, N.J.), 6- 6
1986 … Terry Ferguson (Cherry Hill West, N.J.), 6-10
1987 … Terry Ferguson (Cherry Hill West, N.J.), 7- 0
1989 … J.C. Slocum (Bordentown, N.J.), 6- 8
1994 … Desmond Powell (Oakcrest, N.J.), 6- 4
2002 … Mike Morrison (Willingboro, N.J.), 7- 0
2003 … Mike Morrison (Willingboro, N.J.), 7- 2
2012 … A.J. Vance (Egg Harbor, N.J.), 6- 6
2015 … Ameer Banks (Delsea, N.J.), 6-10
2022 … David Godbolt [Rancocas Valley], 6-0