It was a historic weekend for Burlington City junior Ny’era Hand Brooks.
Hand became the first girl from City to ever win an outdoor state title when she won the 100-meter hurdles at the Group 1 meet at Pennsauken.
Hand won by more than half a second over senior Kaelin Marshall of Haddon Township, who ran 15.61, and Woodbury junior Jordyn Miller-Knuckles was 3rd in 15.64, making it a 1-2-3 South Jersey sweep.
The best previous finish at states by a Blue Devil girl was 3rd place, and that’s happened three times.
In 2001, senior Kelly Dickerson placed 3rd in the Group 1 high jump with a 5-0 clearance, two years later senior Ashley Smitherman took 3rd in the hurdles at 15.12, and in 2009 senior Bessie Dean placed 3rd in the 2009 in 26.46. In 1982, Gina McMenamin placed 4th in the Group 2 3,200 in 11:17.5, and in 2008 Dean was 4th in the high jump at 5-0.
Hand-Brooks’ recent improvement has been impressive.
She didn’t break 16 seconds in the 100-meter highs until sectionals last weekend, when she ran 15.50 in the trials and then blew her PR out of the water with a 15.15 to win the Central Jersey Group 1 race.
Saturday at states, she matched her PR with a 15.15 in the trials and then lowered it again to 15.06 in the final. That makes her the No. 11 seed in the Meet of Champions and the No. 2 underclassman in South Jersey, behind only Eastern junior Johnay Stilley, who ran 14.76 at SJ-4 sectionals and was 4th at states with a 15.13.
Hand-Brooks also placed 3rd in the 200 with a 25.33, good enough for the No. 12 seed if she chooses to run it. That was also a PR, dropping her lifetime best from 25.44 at BCSL divisionals.