This Week in SJTrack: The Meet of Champions

Toms River, NJ: The best track meet of the winter season took place on Saturday at the Bennett Indoor Complex in Toms River.  The fastest New Jersey has  to offer gathered under the dome and clashed to determine the strongest athlete in each event.  The top 6 athletes per event from every group as well as the 6 fastest non-automatic qualifiers had their opportunity to prove their NJ supremacy.  

Boys

Egg Harbor Arrives

The heart of a great track and field team is 400 meters.  Teams with depth in that event prove difficult to conquer.  Challenge them in the 200 and they will compete.  Challenge them in the 800 and they will respond.  Challenge them in the 400 and you are in trouble.  Egg Harbor Township has shown strength throughout this winter season in all three events and capped off indoors with a performance that should shake the confidence of the rest of South Jersey.  The Eagles soared to victory in the 4×400 meter relay as Alex Dessoye, Robert Dessoye, Aidin Hendriks, and Amir Brock turned in the fastest South Jersey time of the season running 3:22.75.   

Alex Dessoye set the stage for EHT from lane 3 as he cruised around the first two turns before making the break into lane 1.  After being gapped by Paul VI, Hunterdon Central, and Old Bridge he was able to kick his way into a confusion causing dead heat (50.8).  As all three teams fought to pass the baton Robert Dessoye had to spin around other athletes take the exchange from his brother.  Adrenaline racing from the messy pass, R. Dessoye made a huge back stretch pass and grew his lead before handing off to Hendricks with room to spare (51.9).  Paul VI and Franklin passed the Eagles on the first lap of the third leg but Hendrick summoned his speed, kicked home, and handed off in 1st (50.9).  From there Brock closed the deal and pulled away in the last 75 meters (48.9) to register his school’s first Meet of Champions 4×400 title (3:22.75).  The Paul VI foursome of Maxwell Dickens, Richard Bush, Antonio Tarantino, and Stefone Moore-Green came up for second in 3.23.31.

Coach Ryan Smith said his athletes work, “tremendously hard in practice.”  3 of the 4 (the Dessoye brothers, and Hendricks) train with distance coach Joe Lucchio and “they even attack the OC bridges each Saturday for extra training.”  Brock works with the sprint group and yet their team chemistry is forged on Wednesdays when the foursome comes together for “M.O.P. training.”  According the Smith the workouts, “were started by EHTHS’s late Head Track and Field Coach George Wilkinson [and] stand for Minutes of Pain.”  All of South Jersey stands to feel “minutes of pain” as all four champion athletes are juniors.  

Isaiah Curbelo of Rancocas Valley ran what coach Jeff Dzuranin called, “the best and most complete race he has run in his career.”  Curbelo, an 800 meter specialist with distance running strength knew he couldn’t sit and kick against the loaded Meet of Champions field so he use his aerobic power to lead the race through 400 meters in 55 seconds.  Curbelo and Dzuranin hoped that if he opened in an “honest pace,” he could outlast 2015 Spring MOC winner Ray Rivera of Old Bridge.  Despite executing the plan and running nearly perfect splits through 600 meters he was unable to hold off the charging Rivera. Still, his 1:55.72 personal record setting 2nd place performance sets him up to take a stab at sub 1:54 at tonight’s Eastern States and the New Balance Indoor Nationals in two weeks.  Cherry Hill East’s Isaiah Jean-Baptiste also medaled finishing 8th in 1:58.21.

For a freshman it is a fantastic accomplishment to be selected by your coach to run at a sectional meet.  To qualify for the State Meet exceptionally rare.  To win is unfathomable.  To enter the Meet of Champions as the number 1 seed is so outrageous it borders on comical, yet that was the situation young Luke Colehower found himself in entering Saturday’s 400 meter competition.  He lead through 200, through 400, through 600, and through 700 but was outgunned in the final meters.  Still, the Haddonfield quarter miler smashed his own school record running 49.44 and placed 2nd overall.  

Colehower’s teammate Greg Pelose sought to outduel a set of mile running twins in the 1600 and knew it would take a nearly perfect race to accomplish that goal.  After running to a final lap lead he finished 3rd in a school record time of 4:14.18.  That time not only made him the top South Jersey performer but also is the 3rd fastest time ever by a SJ runner indoors.  Aaron Groff from nearby Cherry Hill East was South Jersey’s top finisher in the 3200 with an outstanding effort that notched him 3rd place in 9:16.57.  Martin Booker of Pennsauken was SJ’s top finisher in the 55 meter dash where he finished 8th in 6.74 seconds.

SJ athletes captured 4 of the 8 medals in the 55 meter hurdles where Deptford’s Tyler Farland place 4th in 7.69 seconds.  His 7.68 trails time was a personal record.  He was followed by Thomas Zor (7.70) of Millville, Jason Stefanski (7.71) of Penns Grove, and Jamil Adams of Winslow (8th, 8.02).  Booker of Pennsauken earned his second medal of the day in the 200 meter showcase where he placed 2nd in 22.55 seconds.  He was followed by teammate Marquan Jones in 3rd (22.65) and Derrick Clement(22.94) of Deptford who placed 6th.  

Kyle Loveland of Moorestown lead the way for South Jersey in the field.  After petitioning his board of education to participate in the State Meet series (Moorestown does not sponsor Winter Track) Loveland cleared 14 feet 6 inches to place 2nd in the pole vault.  He was South Jersey’s top finisher by misses as Jarrod Brovero also cleared 14’6.  He placed 3rd.  Brovero’s teammate Nick Clarke finished 4th with a 14 foot clearance.  Caade Antonucci of Holy Spirit was South Jersey’s only medalist in the shot put where he placed 6th with a huge throw of 55 feet, 3.5 inches.  Kingsway’s Chase Matthews lead the way in the high jump with a 7th place earning 6 foot 4 inch performance.  

Girls

Sprint Stars Capture Gold

For the second consecutive year Deptford sprint start Kiara Lester won the 200 meter showcase at the New Jersey Meet of Champions.  Her winning time of 24.96 seconds was nearly 2 tenths of a second better than 2nd place sophomore Cecelia Gerstenbacher of Delsea who ran an outstanding 25.17 seconds.  The Gloucester county foes were joined by Eastern’s Shakira Dancy who placed 7th in 26.08 second.  Lester placed 2nd in the 400 meters where she ran 55.83 and was only defeated by a State Record performance from Union Catholic’s Sydney McLaughlin.  She was followed by South Jersey’s other sprint start, Aliyah Taylor of Pemberton who ran a personal record of 57.29 for 3rd.  

Taylor, who’s coach Sophia Ard calls, “a dedicated student-athlete who doesn’t mind putting in the hard work,” was rewarded on Saturday with a dominant Meet of Champions win in the 55 meter dash.  Her time of 7.04 seconds was a full tenth of a second faster than second place.  In the 55 dash, on this level, that is an enormous margin of victory.  That time is #1 in New Jersey and #13 in the Nation.  She was followed by Bria Mack (4th, 7.31) of Williamstown , Gerstenbacher (7th, 7.39), and Najiyah Palmer (8th, 7.42) of Kingsway.

Brittany Preston of Winslow Township continued her school’s outstanding tradition by placing 2nd in the 55 hurdles with a personal record time of 8.19 seconds.  She is the fourth different Winslow Township girl to place in the top 6 at Meet of Champions in the last 5 years.  Christine Lavallias of Timber Creek turned a wildcard bid into a 7th place finish with a career best 8.36 second performance in the preliminaries (8.46 finals).  Creek Coach Mike Short said he was, “Thrilled to see two area girls medal at the MOC.”

Briana Gess of Haddonfield continued her outstanding winter with a 3rd place finish in the 1600.  After getting out to an early lead it looked like she might have enough for the win but her opening 2:24 800 meters took its toll and two hard charging girls were able to surpass her.  Her time of 4:51.03 lead the way for the 3 South Jersey medalists.  Megan Quimby of Lenape smashed the 5 minute barrier running 4:57.12 for 4th and in the process eclipsed her school and the Burlington County record.  Triton’s Kelsey Cummings closed in 71.5 seconds to win the slow heat and place 8th overall.  Her time of 5:06.85 was a school record by 8 seconds.  

Cross Country Meet of Champions winner Alyssa Aldridge of Mainland continued to show her strength in the 3200 where she pushed the pace before placing 3rd in a personal and school record time of 10:42.4.  She will complete in the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Indoor Nationals where her cross country prowess is sure to be on display.  Alyssa Condell of Timber Creek smashed her school record and set a personal best with a 10:49.46.  She passed 2 girls in the last 150 meters to place 5th.  

Seneca’s Kayla Martin continued to lead the way for South Jersey in the 800 meters where she placed 4th in 2:17.03.  She was with the leaders through 600 meters running 32, 33, 34 second splits and attempted to make her move but was stifled when another athlete pounced first and trapped her on the rail.  Still she rebounded and earned SJ’s only medal in the event.  Coach Karen O’Neil hopes she can learn from the race: “She was up against some tremendous competition… and the experience of running with that type of competition was good for her.”  She will test that hard earned experience at Eastern States in the DMR, and at New Balance Indoor Nationals in the open 800 and 4×800 meter relay.  

South Jersey’s 4×400 powerhouses, Lenape and Winslow Township, duked it out for top honors and ran to fast times in the process.  The Lenape foursome of Megan Quimby, Shannon Lambert, Jasmine Staten, and Shannon Storms (4:00.76) outpaced the Winslow group of Iyianna Williams (61.7), Flora Ahiarakwe (59.6), Nicole Berry (59.8), and Brittany Preston (59.7) (4:00.8).  They finished 4th and 5th respectively.  Eastern Regional’s team of Jennifer Civatte, Gabrielle Jackson, Victoria Liverpool, and Nyjah Young-Bey ran 4:02.61 for 7th.  

Seneca Junior Brittney Raffo continued to be South Jersey’s top field performer with her 4th place pole vault clearance of 11 feet.  After clearing 10’, 10’6, 11’ on her first attempts she made three strong attempts at 11’6.  She will look to eclipse that barrier at tonight’s Eastern States Championship.  Vineland’s Najeaya Singleton was South Jersey’s only other field medal.  Her throw of 43’3 eared her 6th place in what was arguably the strongest field of the day, the shot put.  

This Week in SJTrack: The Group Championships

Toms River, NJ: The Bennett Indoor Complex in Toms River played host to the NJSIAA Group Championships this past weekend.  Friday saw the State’s largest, Group 4, and smallest, Group 1, schools competed for State titles.  Saturday morning Groups 2 and 3 laced up the spikes, while Saturday night the non-public schools saw their first State Series action.  The team winners earned the Title of State Champion while the top 6 individuals in each group punched their ticket to the Meet of Champions this Saturday.  The next 6 fastest individual in each event of all the groups also earned the right to compete this weekend.  

Group 4 Boys

Groff Rolls to a Second Place Finish

Sometimes second place hurts.  Sometimes it lingers in the mind of an athlete.  If Cherry Hill East’s Aaron Groff can avoid that stigma he has the opportunity for a title more precious than the one that slipped away this past Saturday.  Groff finished the 3200 meter run in a blazing 9:16.09.  That time was the second fastest of all the group meets… Unfortunately it was also the second fastest in his race.  Freehold Township’s Jake Konig ran 9:15.49 for the win but can’t feel comfortable heading into Meet of Champions where Groff will be looking to return the favor.  

Joshua Chazin, who missed cross country due to injury, continued his steady progress running nearly prefect 35 second splits to place 5th in the 3200.  He dropped 11 second from sectionals to finish the race in 9:27.59.  The only other South Jersey qualifier was Cherokee Sophomore Justin Kelly who, after setting personal records two consecutive weeks, had to sweat through the rest of the weekend before he learned he was the 6th and final wildcard to the MOC.  He finished in 9:41.02.  

The 400 meters was the strongest overall race for South Jersey Group 4 as three athletes punched tickets to the Meet of Champions.  Lenape’s Chase Campbell was SJ’s top finisher.  He improved from his sectionals mark of 51.38 seconds running 50.80 to place 2nd.  He was followed by Alex Dessoye (5th, 51.22) and Amir Brock (6th, 51.23) both of Egg Harbor.  

Cole Pschunder’s goal was to be in position with 600 to go and execute a long strength based kick to pull away from his speedy 1600 meter competitors.  After Brandon Tubby of Hillsborough countered and ran away with the race Pschunder refocused on 2nd.  He did everything he could closing with a 62.5 second last lap but was just edged out and had to settle for 3rd.  Still, his time of 4:20.55 is a 2 second indoor personal record and earned him top SJ honors.  He will enter the MOC as the 9th seed.  Joshua DeJesus will also represent South Jersey as he earned the top wildcard position with his 4:24.83 performance.

Thomas Zor of Millville was the top South Jersey finisher in the 55 meter hurdles with a 7.84 second showing.  He placed 4th.  He will be joined on Saturday by Cherry Hill East’s Jordan Clark who earned a wildcard by running 7.94 seconds at the Group Meet.  

The Egg Harbor team of Alex Dessoye, Robert Dessoye, Aidin Hendriks, and Amir Brock will lead three South Jersey Group 4 teams to Meet of Champions as they ran 3:26.52 to 3rd in the 4×400.  Rancocas Valley (3:30.89) and Millville (3:31.41) earned wildcards.  Isaiah Curbelo lead the way for South Jersey in the 800 running 1:55.72 for 2nd.  Isaiah Jean-Baptiste of Cherry Hill East was South Jersey’s only other qualifier as he ran 1:59.03 for 6th.  

In the field Chase Matthews cleared 6 feet 4 inches for 2nd place in the high jump.  Cherry Hill East’s Nevin Beasley jump 6’2 to qualify in 5th place.  Two additional South Jersey Group 4 athletes were granted wildcards in the event as Earnest Daniel of Kingsway and Ryan Felker both cleared 6 feet.  Sam Shinn of Kingsway placed 6th in the shot put with a 52 foot 8.25 inch throw.  He will be joined by Egg Harbor wildcard Darren Wan who threw 50 feet 1.25 inches at the Group Meet.  

Group 4 Girls

Mack Brings Home a Title

Bria Mack was the only South Jersey Group 4 athlete, boy or girl, to win an individual state title this past weekend.  Her 55 meter victory in 7.19 seconds makes her the 4 seed at the Meet of Champions where she will face South Jersey rival and #1 seed Aliyah Taylor of Pemberton.  Najiyah Palmer of Kingsway placed third to qualify in 7.35 seconds.  

South Jersey qualified 4 girls in the 1600 meters as Julianna Catania continued her fantastic winter with a blazing 5:01.21 2nd place effort.  She was followed by Megan Quimby who ran a personal best time of 5:02.71 to place 3rd.  Shawnee’s Kara Bonner earned her way to Meet of Champions with a 4th place 5:04.48 performance.  Destiny Stanford of Kingsway closed out SJ qualification with a 5:14.90 wildcard earning time. Catania returned later in the meet and repeated her second place performance running 11:00.81 in the 3200 to become South Jersey Group 4’s only qualifier.  

Rachel Armstead of Millville qualified in the 55 meter hurdles running 8.39 for 2nd.  She will be joined at MOC by Shakira Dancy of Eastern who raced to a 5th place finish in the 400.  Her time of 59.77 seconds was a personal record.  The Lenape team of Megan Quimby, Shannon Lambert, Jasmine Staten, and Shannon Storms lead South Jersey qualification in the 4×400 with their 4:01.99 2nd place finish.  Eastern (4:04.46), Shawnee (4:04.74), and Cherokee (4:06.15) all earned wildcards.  Williamstown’s Gabbi Kirsch earned a wildcard in the 800 with a time of 2:23.06.

Shannon Storms of Lenape continued her consistent pole vaulting as she matched her season best of 10 feet and placed 3rd.  Vineland’s Najeaya Singleton’s 41 foot 10 inch throw in the shot put earned he a second place finish and the 7th seed at Saturday’s Meet of Champions.  She will be joined in the shot put by Samira File of Millville who threw 38’1.25 for 6th, and Kingsways Emily Hilt who earned a wildcard with her 36’8.50 throw.  

Group 1 Boys

Haddonfield Wins #9

Haddonfield won their second consecutive State Group Title on Saturday and their 9th overall.  They were lead by outstanding performances from athletes on opposite ends of their high school careers.  Coach Nick Baker deemed Senior Greg Pelose his team’s “Performer of the Meet,” while he looked at Freshman Luke Colehower’s 400 meter win as the “Performance of the Meet.”  Pelose won 2 events (1600, 800) and was the runner up in a 3rd (3200) for a total point hull of 28.  Colehower added 10 huge points in 400 and shocked the state running 49.91 seconds on the Bennett Center’s flat track.  Not only does that performance make the Bulldog Freshman the #1 seed at Saturday’s Meet of Champions but it is the #4 freshman time in the US.  Derek Gess, Golin Gallagher, Zach Murray, and Joey Ellis also contributed to Haddonfield’s 55 point total.  

Colehower’s 400 meter victory kicked off the meet with a bang.  He will be joined at Meet of Champions by fellow two lappers Terrance Walker of Pleasantville (4th, 51.92) and Woodstown’s Julian Borman (5th, 52.23).  Pelose ran a personal record of 4:16.74 to break Ben Potts 2011 school record and earn a 5 second victory in the 1600.  After the race opened in a pedestrian 2:14.8 first 800 Pelose dropped the hammer running a 2:02 final half mile.  Derek Gess ran 4:23.12 to become the fastest freshman 1600 meter runner (indoor or out) in Haddonfield school history.  His performance in #2 freshman time in the United States.  Randy Ladd of Haddon Township ran 2:08 over the last 800 meters for personal record 4:23.62.  His rapid close took him from 7th (first non-qualifier) to 5th in the last 100 meters. Samuel Gerstenbacher of Schalick established a new school record of 4:24.24 and grabbed the final qualifying spot.  

Sensing it would take a quick time to earn a spot in the fast heat at Meet of Champions Haddon Township Senior Own Long set the pace for most of the grueling 3200 meter race.  He planned to run the first mile in 4:48.  He ran 4:40.  He planned to run the second mile in 4:40.  He ran 4:39.  His expectation exceeding 9:24.21 effort lead to a Group 1 Title and the number 6 seed at the Meet of Champions.  His 2nd State Championship win in 3 years will put him squarely in MOC fast heat.  Pelose of Haddonfield notched his first sub-10 minute 3200 in style placing 2nd in 9:32.06.  Long and Pelose were followed by their teammates as Joey Domanico of Haddon Township placed 5th in 9:37.07 and Haddonfield’s Colin Gallagher clocked 9:41.81 for 6th.  Both seniors set personal records.  

Pelose continued his outstanding meet with a 1:56.49 victory in the 800 meters.  The Haddonfield school record performance earned him a 2.5 second margin over his nearest competitor.  Pelose’s freshman teammate Gess followed up his outstanding 1600 performance with startling 4th place 2:01.50 800 meters.   That is currently the #5 freshman time in the nation.  Burlington City’s Daveigh Brooks closed out South Jersey qualification in 5th with a time of 2:01.83.

Jason Stefanski of Penns Grove won the Group 1 State title in the 55 meter hurdles by dropping over 2 tenths of a second from the prelims.  His winning time of 7.60 seconds was the 2nd fastest time by a South Jersey athlete in any group and makes him the #3 seed heading into the Meet of Champions.  Audubon’s Kyle McNeely will join Stefanski at Meet of Champions as he placed 3rd in 7.96 seconds.  

Ramon Bentley was the top SJ qualifier in the 55 meter dash.  He finished 5th in 6.69 seconds.  He was followed closely by Audubon’s Kyle Limbaga who finished 6th in 6.72 seconds.  The Haddonfield foursome of Colehower, Gess, Murray, and Ellis dropped 4 seconds from their sectionals 4×400 time and earned top SJ honors finishing 2nd in 3:32.67.  The future is bright as three of the 4 are freshman.  Woodstown was South Jersey’s only other Group 1 qualifier running 3:35.98 for 4th.  

The Pleasantville duo of LaQuay Bishop and Jean Brevil were the top SJ performers in the field as they placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in the shot put.  Bishop’s putt of 51 feet 1.75 inches was a 5 and a half foot improvement from sectionals.  Brevil followed his teammate’s lead tacking an additional 3 feet 8 inches to his sectional throw in a 50’10 performance.  Palmyra’s Matt Yanick finished 4th with a 50’7 effort.  Meet of Champions will be his last high school competition as he plays baseball in the Spring.  Julian Giovinetti’s season best throw of 49’7.76 made him the last South Jersey qualifier in 5th.  

Steven VanderMeer of Gateway was South Jersey’s top finisher in the pole vault.  His clearance of 11 feet 6 inches earned him 3rd.  Schalick’s Trent Lowe, who has only been vaulting since May, cleared 11 feet and placed 4th.  Tarik Robinson of Penns Grove, Rahsaan Hayes of Woodbury and Palmyra’s Kelvin Harmon all tied for 4th in the high jump with 5 foot 10 inch clearances.  All three athletes will clash again at Saturday’s Meet of Champions.  

Group 1 Girls

Gess Dominates, Haddonfield Splits Title

Staying in contact with with New Providence’s Jillian Turner, Briana Gess of Haddonfield concentrated on shaking off effects of her 400 victory 25 minutes earlier.  Turner charged off the line in an effort to break the iron willed Gess as the athletes came through the 800 in 2:26.  With less than 400 meters to go Gess made her counter move and never looked back as she completed a 400, 1600 double her Coach Jason Russo called, “one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen an athlete do.”  Her winning 400 time of 58.57 seconds makes her the #9 seed at Meet of Champions.  Her winning 1600 time of 4:59.03 makes her Saturday’s 4th seed.  She wasn’t done yet.

Gess returned from her dazzling 400, 1600 double to win a third event, the 800, in 2:20.07.  That earns her the MOC 9th seed.  Still, she wasn’t done.  She returned in a fourth event and ran arguably her most impressive time winning in 10:53.58 over a very solid Rachel Suss of Metuchen.  Her four victories garnered 40 points for the Bulldogs.  The team scored a total of 62 as Ana Buzzerd, Kaitlyn Bonnet, Bridget Kane, Nicolette Barringer, and Gabi Connor chipped in enough points to tie Whippany Park for the Group 1 State Title.  

Daniel Nicklas of Audubon was South Jersey’s other qualifier in the 400 running 60.73 for 6th.  Gess was followed by teammate Kaitlyn Bonnet in the 1600 who ran indoor personal record of 5:11.81 for 3rd.  Bonnet returned in the event she will be running at Meet of Champions, the 800 meters, running 2:22.10 for 3rd.  Audubon’s Molly Furlong closed out South Jersey qualifying with a 2:24.10 effort that earned her 6th.  

In the field, Rachel Ondricek won the Group 1 State Championship in the pole vault as she improved by a half a foot from sectionals to clear 10 feet.  She was South Jersey’s only qualifier in the event and the only SJ athlete other than Gess to win a title.  Tomara Charmichael missed her own school record by a half an inch but qualified for Meet of Champions with a 38 foot 3.5 inch shot put effort that earned her 4th.  Schalick’s Zyra Carmichael followed Carmichael with a 35 foot 9 inch throw for 5th.  

Other track qualifiers included Rachael Leyrer of Beuna and Danielle Nicklas of Audubon who ran 9.26 seconds and 9.27 seconds respectively for 4th and 5th in the 55 meter hurdles.  Ana Buzzerd ran a personal record of 7.43 second in the trials and returned in the finals with a 7.44 second performance that earned her 3rd in the 55 meter dash.  She will be joined at Meet of Champions by Pleasantville’s Rebekah Clark who finished 5th in 7.57 seconds.  The Haddonfield team of Kane, Barringer, Bonnett, and Connor earned top SJ honors in the 4×400 with a 4th place earning 4:14.09.  

Group 3 Boys

Pennsauken Show Sprint Strength

Pennsauken showed impressive sprinting depth at the Group 3 State Champion this past Saturday as Marquan Jones earned a 50.10 second victory in the 400 meters and all three Indian 55 meter dashers qualified for Meet of Champions.  Pennsauken teammate Martin Booker followed Jones in the 400 running a 50.86 second 5th place time.  Timber Creek’s Cameron Stinson was South Jersey’s only other qualifier running 51.53 and grasping a wildcard.  

The 55 dash saw 4 South Jersey athletes qualify.  Booker lead the way running 6.49 seconds for second.  He enters Meet of Champions was the 4th seed but he is just 2 one hundredths of a second from the top spot.  Jones was the next South Jersey finisher running 6.65 seconds for 5th.  Pennsauken teammate Nahzir Russell ran 6.71 seconds for 6th while James Bettis of Winslow ran a wildcard earning time of 6.66 seconds in the prelims.  

Highland Senior Sean David continued a 55 meter hurdling tradition by winning the event in 7.56 seconds.  His victory marks the third straight year that a Highland athlete has won a state championship in the hurdles.  His winning time was the fastest time by a South Jersey athlete in any group.  It also positions him as the #2 seed headed into Saturday’s Meet of Champions.  Jamil Adams was the only other South Jersey Group 3 athlete to qualify with a 7.77 second race that placed him 3rd.  

The Bridgeton foursome of Avery Brown, Nicholas Ferrone, Vincent Avallone, and Mikal Wright were South Jersey top team and only qualifier in the 4×400 running 3:31.61 for 2nd. Bobby Maguire of Absegami placed 5th in the 800 and will move onto Meet of Champions with a 1:59.14 time.  Moorestown’s Kyle Loveland was South Jersey’s only qualifier in the Pole Vault.  He matched the best effort of the day with his 13 foot 6 inch clearance but placed 3rd on misses.  He will enter Meet of Champions only 6 inches behind the top seed.  Osemwingie (Joe) Asemota placed 3rd in the shot put with a 52’0.5 effort and was South Jersey’s only Group 3 qualifier.  Mike Grillo of Mainland earned top SJ honors finishing 4th in the High Jump by clearing 6 feet 2 inches on his third and final attempt.  He was followed by Winslow’s Isaiah Jones who placed 6th with a 6 foot clearance.  

Girls Group 3

Winslow Places Second

The Winslow Township Girls Track and Field team has a considerable tradition.  They are known for being tough competitors who come through in the clutch.  A new generation continued that tradition Saturday winning three events at the Group 3 State Championship and just missing a team victory.  They were lead by Sophomore Flora Ahiarakwe who won the 400 in 59.08 seconds and Senior Brittany Preston who won the 55 meter hurdles in 8.27 seconds.  Neither of the newly crowned Winslow State Champions made it out of last years Sectionals in the events they won this year.  Iyianna Williams (61.7), Ahiarakwe (58.8), Nicole Berry (59.7), and Preston (59.8) closed out Winslow’s day with an NJ #2 4:00.02 victory in the 4×400 meter relay.  

Nia Hinds of Burlington Township, who was seeded 18th headed into the meet, ran 60.05 seconds to place 4th in the 400.  Hinds (a competitive cheerleader in her spare time) returned later in the meet to beat out Kai Starnes of Timber Creek on misses in the High Jump.  Both athletes cleared 5 feet 4 inches.  They will be joined by Absegami’s Mariah Hubbard who earned a wildcard with her 5 foot clearance.  

Hubbard’s Absegami teammate Cyann Moyer placed 6th in the hurdles (8.69) and along with wildcard earning Christine Lavallias (8.56) of Timber Creek will join Preston at Meet of Champions.  In the field, Winslow’s Ciarra Johnson lead three South Jersey Qualifiers in the shot put.  Johnson’s throw of 38 feet 10.25 inches placed her 3rd.  Timber Creek’s Gabbriel Harris-David (37’10.25) and Maddie Bradway of Ocean City (37’1.25) finished 4th and 6th respectively.  

After running the fastest time of the day in the prelims of the 55 meter dash (7.36) freshman Alivia Scott of Northern Burlington had to settle for second in the final as she was edged by 1 hundredth of a second.  Scott was followed by 3 additional South Jersey qualifiers.  Donjai Upshaw of Highland Regional was 3rd in 7.42 seconds.  400 meter champion Ahiarakwe was 6th in 7.51 seconds, and Pennsauken’s Brianna Bryan earned a wildcard with her 7.48 seconds prelims effort.

Despite running a new indoor school record, Seneca star Kayla Martin was edged out by two athletes in the 800 meter run.  Her time of 2:15.89 makes her not only 3rd in the race but the 3rd seed at Saturday’s Meet of Champions where she will have a shot at revenge against her top seeded Group 3 rivals.  Two South Jersey Group 3 athletes earned earned wildcards in the event as Highland Regional’s Kalin Priest and Winslow Township’s Nicole Berry ran 2:22.15 and 2:22.68 respectively.  

Three South Jersey Athletes qualified in the 1600 meter run.  Triton’s Kelsey Cummings ran the final 400 meters in 72 seconds and moved from 10th to 4th.  Her 5:14.51 performance made her the first Triton distance athlete to qualify for Meet of Champions since Katie Van Horn back in 2004.  Kingsway’s Destiny Stanford (5:14.90) and Sydny Warner of Seneca (5:19.36) earned wildcards.  

After leading almost the entire race, Cross Country Meet of Champions winner Alyssa Aldridge of Mainland placed second in the 3200 in 10:49.91.  She will enter Saturday’s Meet of Champions looking for revenge as the #2 seed behind Group 3 winner Julia Guerra.  Timber Creek’s Alyssa Condell improved 23 seconds from sectionals to finish 4th in 11:06.31.

Prior to the event Officials informed Seneca’s Rebecca Bohi that she would not be able to compete in the pole vault.  Her pole had a label in an illegal spot.  Coach Karen O’Neil explained that, “this obviously upset her, but fortunately the officials were able to work it out with the help of some of the other coaches.”  Adrenaline now firing Bohi powered to a South Jersey best 2nd place finish with a 10 foot clearance.  Bohi was followed by teammate Brittney Raffo who finished 3rd on misses also with a 10 foot vault.  Abesgami’s Sarah Polistina closed out South Jersey qualification with a 9 foot 6 inch performance.  

Group 2 Boys

Deptford Excel–erates

Deptford’s Tyler Garland shot out of the blocks, floated over the hurdles, roared through the finish running a championship snatching 7.79 seconds in the Group 2 55 meter hurdles.  His victory would set the tone for a Deptford sprint squad that would return later in the day to accomplish a unique feet in school history.  In the 55 meter dash Derrick Clements (3rd, 6.68), Jahmir Ellis (4th, 6.69) and Myles Davis (6th, 6.72) all qualified.  For the first time in school history all three entrants in an event qualified for the Meet of Champions.  

Zavian Bell of Willingboro came in 2nd in the hurdles running 7.84 seconds.  Francis Terry of Sterling bolted out in the 400 running 23.3 seconds for the first 200 of the 400 meters.  He faltered in the last 20 meters but was still South Jersey top Group 2 finisher.  His 51.06 second effort earned him 3rd.  Willingboro’s Tyler Davidson was the only other SJ qualifier running 51.37 for 5th.  

In the 3200 Cinnaminson Junior Mike UngvArsky broke his indoor school record running 9:31.11 for 2nd.  He is the 16th seed headed into Saturday and has a chance to squeak into the fast heat depending on which events multi-event qualifiers choose.  His Cinnaminson teammate Tom Long was South Jersey’s only qualifier in the 800 meters.  He placed 3rd.  His time of 1:59.28 is the best Cinnaminson 800 performance in 9 years.  Delsea’s George Tenenberg earned a wildcard in the 1600 with his time of 4:25.62.  In the final event of the day, the 4×400 relay, Willingboro was the top SJ finisher as Michael Walker, Tyler Davidson, Zavian Bell, and Tyshon Hernandez teamed up for 3rd in 3:31.68.  Deptford also qualified with a time of 3:34.93.  

The top South Jersey field performance came in the pole vault where Delsea’s Jarrod Brovero skied to a 14 foot win.  He was followed by his vaulting teammate Nick Clark who qualified as a wildcard with his 12 foot 6 inch clearance.  The top finisher in the high jump was Myles Davis of Deptford who tied for 6th by clearing 6 feet.  Enaje Johnson-Hutto of Oakcrest lead the way in the shot put with a 49’0.75 throw for 3rd.  He was followed by Deptford Senior Marcus Carter who threw 48 feet 4.25 inches for 5th.   

Group 2 Girls

Taylor and Lester Shine

Sophomore Aliyah Taylor of Pemberton is new to indoor track.  That hasn’t stopped her from putting a Hornet shaped mark on South Jersey Sprinting.  According to Coach Sophia Ard, “She has a high motivation and commitment along with a strong ability to focus on and off the track (she has a 4.625 GPA).”  She started her day by taking on the incomparable Deptford Senior Kiara Lester in the 400.  Lester edged her running a SJ leading 56.79 seconds (Taylor ran 57.57).  She then returned to action by out dueling Lester in the 55 meter dash where she dropped an New Jersey leading 7.11 second performance.  Not to be outdone, Lester returned in the 4×400 meters teaming with Camryn Tirado, Kayla Tucker, and Jayla Harrison.  Lester’s anchor split of 56.6 seconds sealed the victory for Deptford (4:06.30).  Cecelia Gerstenbacher was the 3rd South Jersey finisher in the 55 where she ran 7.21 seconds for 4th and the 400 where she placed 5th in 58.50 seconds.  

Lenaami Morton of Camden was South Jersey only other Group 2 Champion.  She won the 55 hurdles by a margin just shy of 3 tenths of a second.  Her time of 8.37 seconds makes her the 6th seed headed into the Meet of Champions.  Sydney Coppolino took the lead with about 500 meters to go in the 800 but couldn’t hold on as he placed 3rd with a time of 2:21.65.  Her sister Madison Coppolino had breakout race and set a personal record of 5:11.97 to place 4th in the 1600.  Delsea’s Katie Rauscher was the only SJ qualifier in the 3200 with a time of 11:09.29.  

Quinn Bithell of Lower Cape May lead the way in the field with a 5’2 clearance in the high jump.  The effort earned her 3rd and a 2 inch victory over Lauren Tigue of West Deptford and Janell Rowe of Sterling.  Rowe’s performance was a personal record and a unique surprise as she uses the unconventional scissor kick method.  Coach Jeff McLlavine explained that they use the strategy to “utilize her extremely long legs.”  Elisia Lancaster of Delsea was the sole SJ qualifier in the shot put with a 4th place effort of 39 feet 8 inches.

Boys Non-Public A

Paul VI Runs to 4×4 Glory

Paul VI will enter Saturday’s New Jersey Meet of Champions as the top seed in the 4×400 thanks to a Non-Public A Championship winning effort by Maxwell Dickens, Richard Bush, Antonio Tarantino, and Stefone Moore-Green.  Thier time of 3:25.59 bested runner up Christian Brothers Academy by nearly 4 second.  Camden Catholic was South Jersey’s second qualifier in the event running 3:34.34 for 5th despite not being at full strength.  4×400 teammates Dickens and Tarantino also qualified in individual events.  Dickens ran 7.78 seconds in the 55 hurdles for 2nd, and Tarantino cleared 6 feet for 4th in the high jump.  The only other South Jersey qualifiers from this section were Marc Reeder of St. Augustine and Austin Olson of Paul VI who finished 2nd and 5th respectively in the pole vault.  Reeder cleared 12 feet 6 while Olson scaled 11 feet.  

Girls Non-Public A

4 Athletes Impress

Sarah Jones of Bishop Eustace punched her ticket to Meet of Champions with a 8.72 second 3rd place finish in the high hurdles.  Paul VI’s Bernadette McGowan was South Jersey top field performer as he placed 3rd in the shot put with a 37 foot 11.5 inch performance.  Bishop Eustace Freshman Katy Storti ran 5:19.64 in the 1600 and earned her way to winter’s biggest meet. Finally Zarria Williams ran a personal record to qualify out of the unseeded heat in the 400 with a 61.46 6th place effort.  

Boys Non-Public B

Eustace Wins Big

The Bishop Eustace Boys Winter Track team outlasted their competitor by winning 5 events and scoring in all but one event.  The outstanding team effort earned the Crusaders a 29 point victory over Hudson Catholic.  Individual State Championships were won by Jack Smith in the 55 meter dash (6.72), Philip Sobocinski in the 800 (2:03.63), Nick Hutchison in the 3200 (9:52.54),  Sebastian Fenerty in the 55 hurdles (8.14) and Evan Adams in the High Jump (6’0).  Other Eustace scorers included Jason Varley who finished 4th in the 55 (6.80), Sean May 6th in the 800 (2:08.63), Hutchinson 2nd (4:31.58) and Connor Melko 5th (4:37.48) in the 1600, Michael Dziuba in the 3200 (10:15.19), Evan Adams (8.25) and Cameron Acito (8.63) in the hurdles, Michael Fisher who was 2nd in the pole vault (10’0), Montel Johnson who placed 6th in the shot put (43’4) and the 4×400 team of Acito, Daniel Hullihan, May, and Adams who finished 2nd (3:46.93).  The only non-Eustace qualifier was St. Joseph’s of Hammonton’s Salaam Horne who finished 2nd in the 55 (6.73).  

Girls Non-Public B

Young Runs to a Win

Asia Young of Holy Spirit was South Jersey’s only Champion at the Girls Non-Public B Championship.  Her 61.45 second victory edged Ryan Webb of Hudson Catholic by a tenth of a second in the 400.  She returned to cap off the meet by joining teammates Ayana Plummer, Isabella Desairo, and Kristy Goff who fought off injuries and illness to finish second with a time of 4:21.98.   

This Week in SJTrack: Egg Harbor Impresses

This Week in SJTrack: Egg Harbor Impresses

Toms River, NJ:  The John Bennett Indoor Complex played host to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 and 4 Sectional Championships this past Saturday.  In the boys competition Egg Harbor look on some of the state’s best and came out Champions.  Lenape shined in the girls competition becoming the top South Jersey performer.  Meanwhile, Haddon Township migrated north for the day and competed in the Group 1 Central Jersey Sectional.  

Group 4 Boys

Egg Harbor Defeats Strong Challengers

Heading into the meet Coach Ryan Smith knew his Egg Harbor Eagles had a challenge on their hands: “After the final seeds were published earlier in the week we saw that Kingsway was a favorite over us.  That fired up our kids… .  [T]hey take pride in performing their best for the team.”  Though they entered a slight underdog Egg Harbor left with a South Jersey Group 4 Title and Rancocas Valley Coach Jeff Dzuranin (whose team tied with Kingsway for second) made clear the best team won: “Egg Harbor had a great meet and was impossible to beat in the team title.”  The Eagles scored in 8 of 10 events and had multiple qualifiers in the 400 meters, the 800 meters, the high jump, and the shot put.  With a total of 73 points they won by 17 and Smith was pleased with the performance: “I couldn’t be prouder of these student-athletes and their coaches for that extra effort they put in for the benefit of the team.”

Amir Brock was the only individual winner for Egg Harbor with a 50.90 second performance in the 400 meters.  Teammate Alex Dessoye outperformed his seed and placed second in 51.12.  The other South Jersey qualifiers included Chase Campbell and Kevin Harrison both of lenape (3rd, 51.38 and 5th, 52.11), and Samuel Keleekai from Rancocas Valley (6th, 52.27).

Isaiah Curbelo of RV shined in the middle distance events with what Dzuranin called a, “Monster Triple.”  His day started with the 1600 where he broke his own indoor school record enroute to a victory in 4:21.70.  He followed with an 800 performance that made him the first RV boy to win multiple events at an indoor sectional.  He ran away from his competitors winning by over 2 seconds in 1:57.12.  He would cap off the meet by anchoring the victorious RV 4×400 relay.  

The other South Jersey Qualifiers in the 1600 were Nicholas Pschunder of Eastern (2nd, 4:22.6), Curbelo’s RV teammate Joshua DeJesus (3rd, 4:24.69) who returned to form after a nagging cross county injury, Isaiah Jean-Baptiste (4th, 4:26.06) and Cole Parsons (6th, 4:29.75) both from Cherry Hill East.  Curbelo was followed by Eric Barns of Egg Harbor in the 800.  His time of 1:59.80 registered 8 big points for EHT. Jean-Baptiste double back to finish 3rd in 2:00.18 while DeJesus, also returning from the 16, placed 4th in 2:00.21.  Robert Dessoye of Egg Harbor was the final qualifier running 2:00.32 for 6th.  

Aaron Groff of Cherry Hill East won the 3200 in 9:24.54.  He will enter the Group 4 State Championship as the top seed.  Other South Jersey Qualifiers include Joshua Chazin of Eastern (3rd, 9:37.43), Joe Grandizio of Kingsway (4th, 9:38.62), Justin Kelly of Cherokee (5th, 9:43.77), and Marc Meltzer of Cherry Hill East (6th, 9:45.46).  

Millville Senior Thomas Zor won the 55 meter high hurdles in 7.87 over Andrew Daniluk of Toms River North.  Jordan Clark of Cherry Hill East placed 3rd in 8.00.  RV’s Aliyy Haqq qualified next in 8.08, while Ryan Felker of Egg Harbor placed 5th in 8.18.  Chase Glasper of Rancocas Valley closed out qualification with an 8.24 second performance.  In the dash South Jersey’s top qualifier, JeSean Foster of RV, finished 2nd in 6.73 seconds.  The other SJ qualifiers in the 55 were 400 Champ Amir Brock of EHT (6.76), Atlantic City’s Dapree Wright (6.78), Chase Campbell of Lenape (6.79), and Clearview Freshman Aidan Burns (6.82).

Heading into the last event of the day, the 4×400 relay, Rancocas Valley had an ambitious goal: win.  Egg Harbor Township had beaten them in every head to head competition this season and according to RV Coach Dzuranin, they wanted, “to make a statement… to close out the meet.”  Their winning time of 3:27.65 tied the RV indoor school record and edged Egg Harbor who finished 2nd in 3:28.08.  The team consisted of Sam Keleekai (51.5), Rob Hawkins (51.6), Brian Merriman (53.7) and Curbelo (50.7).  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Millville (3rd, 3:32.07), Lenape (4th, 3:34.11), and Cherry Hill East (5th, 3:34.71).   

In the field, Kingsway was dominant. Dragon Senior Chase Matthews won the high jump in 6’6, teammate Ryan Evernham won the pole vault in 12’6, while Sam Shinn convincingly won the shot put with a 52’9.5 effort.  The other qualifiers in the high jump were Ryan Felker of Egg Harbor (6’4), Earnest Daniel of Kingsway (6’0), Cherry Hill East teammates Nevin Beasley (6’0) and Kyle Encarnacion (5’10) and Joseph Del Conte of Egg Harbor (5’10).  

Trevor Kopp of Egg Harbor placed second in the pole vault with a 12 foot performance.  Champion Evernham will be joined by teammates Jacob Matheny (11’6) and Daylan Rinnier (11’0) at States as they finished 3rd and 4th.  The final qualifiers in the vault were Mitchell Casey of Shawnee (11’0), and David Bauder of Egg Harbor (10’6).  Behind Shin in the shot were South Jersey qualifiers Darren Wan of EHT(46’11), Byron Wells of Kingsway (45’0), Mubarak Momodu of EHT (43’10.25), and Tariq Hills of RV (43’00.5).

Group 4 Girls

Lenape Runs Strong at Sectionals

The Lenape Girls were the top performing South Jersey school at the Group 4 South Jersey Sectionals and through they came up short to a strong Southern Regional squad Coach Gerald Richardson was happy with the performance: “I was very pleased with the way we competed and getting a good number of kids through to next week (State Group 4 Championship).  We places where I knew we could place and finishing strong with a 4×400 sectional title made it a great day.”  The victorious Indian 4×400 team consisted of Megan Quimby, Individual 400 Champion Shannon Lambert, Dana Duffield, and Shannon Storms (4:05.79).  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Eastern (4:07.21), Shawnee (4:08.87), Cherokee (4:09.29), and Millville (4:12.41).

Lambert’s 400 victory was Lenape’s only individual title.  Her time of 59.61 positions her as the 7th seed for Saturday’s State Championship.  She was followed by Eastern’s Shakira Dancy who ran 60.48 for 2nd.  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Kate Woolam of Clearview (3rd, 60.80), and Shawnee’s Molly Johnson (4th, 60.89).

Julianna Catania of Egg Harbor Township came out on top in the 1600 where she ran 5:03.08 to defeat Lenape’s Megan Quimby (5:03.91).  The other SJ qualifiers in the 16 were Kara Bonner of Shawnee (4th, 5:07.94), and Kingsway teammates Destiny Stanford (5th, 5:10.75) and Rachel Vick (6th, 5:27.46).

The only other South Jersey victory came in the 55 meter dash where Bria Mack won in 7.25 seconds over Najiyah Palmer of Kingsway (7.38).  Macks time positions her well for the Group meet where she will be the number one seed heading into the prelims.  Ayanna Garrett of Egg Harbor finished 3rd with a time of 7.47 seconds.  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Rachell Armstead of Millville (5th, 7.50) and Egg Harbor’s Ajae Alvarez (6th, 7.62).  

Najeaya Singleton from Vineland earned the only South Jersey victory in the field with a 40 foot 7.75 inch throw in the shot put.  She will enter the State meet as the number two seed.  The next SJ thrower was Samira File who finished 3rd with a toss of 38 feet and ¼ inch.  Emily Hilt of Kingsway also qualified with a 4th place finish and a throw of 36’2.  

The top SJ finisher in the 800 was Lenapes Megan Quimby who ran 2:19.71 for second.  That time puts her in good position for the State Meet where she will be the 4th seed.  She was followed by qualifiers Destiny Stanford of Kingsway (4th, 2:21.27) and Williamstown’s Gabbi Kirsch (6th, 2:24.40).  1600 champion Julianna Catania was the top SJ finisher in the 3200 where she finished second in 11:19.08. The only other SJ qualifier was Alexis Mullarkey of Kingway (6th,11:35.53).

The 55 meter hurdles saw 4 South Jersey athletes advanced as Rachell Armstead of Millville finished 2nd in 8.48 seconds.  The other qualifiers were Dyani Bigelow of Clearview (4th, 9.00), Millville’s Alexia Lee (5th, 9.08), and Taliya Rogers of Rancocas Valley (9.18).

In the vertical events South Jersey qualified 5 athletes.  Sydne Nance was the top SJ placer in the high jump where her 5 foot 2 inch clearance earned second place.  She tied the eventual winner had more misses.  The other SJ qualifier in the high jump was Tamika Voltaire who cleared 5 feet for 6th.  In the pole vault Lenape senior Shannon Storms cleared 9 feet 6 inches for 2nd.  Storm’s teammate Gabby Sharp finished 4th in 8 feet 6 inches, and Kingsways Erin Gray closed out SJ qualification with an 8 foot performance.  

Group 1, Central Jersey

Haddon Township comes through in Central

Senior Owen Long will have to wait another week to take on his traditional South Jersey rivals but even from afar he made a statement.  His Central Jersey winning time of 9:34.75 positions him as the #1 seed in Saturday’s Group 1 State Championship 3200 meter.  Kateryan Swan highlighted the Haddon Township girls action as she won the high jump on misses over Lucia Gambuzza of Jonathan Dayton HS.  Both athletes cleared 5 feet.  Other Haddon Township qualifiers included Joe Domanico in the 3200 (3rd, 9:48.89), Randy Ladd in the 1600 (3rd, 4:29.28), Jake Dinnerman in the 800 (5th, 2:04.85), Julian Govenette in the shot (46’10.25), Annika Merkh in the girls 800 (5th, 2:27.69), and Lauren DeAngelo in the girls vault (4th, 7’6).

This Week in SJ Track: The Haddonfield Show

Toms River, NJ:  The John Bennett Indoor Complex played host to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 1 and 4 Sectional Championships this past Saturday.  The Group 1 competitions had a familiar but never stale result as Haddonfield registered a boys, girls sweep.  

Group 1 Boys:

Haddonfield Frosh Phenoms Bolster Senior Star

Haddonfield won its 3rd straight South Jersey Group 1 Championship this past Saturday defeating A.P Schalick 78.5 to 43.  A.P. Schalick Coach Stephen Pierangeli, whose Cougars 2nd place finish was a staggering improvement from last years 9th place showing, said he, “continue(s) to be impressed by the domination of Haddonfield.”  

The Dawgs were lead Boston University bound Greg Pelose who won the 1600 (4:20.03) and 800 meter (1:57.97) races.  His 800 meter performance was a Haddonfield School Record.  Pelose also scored in the 3200 (5th, 10:14.01) but teammate Colin Gallagher came out on top with his first major championship victory in 10:02.22.  The Senior leaders were bolstered by two freshman phenoms.  Luke Colehower continued his unbelievable freshman season winning the 400 and breaking his own school record with a time of 50.85 seconds.  He returned later in the meet to place 4th in the 55 dash (6.83) and lead off the Dawg’s 2nd place 4×400 relay (3:36.78).  Another Haddonfield freshman made huge contributions to the team victory.  Derek Gess (brother of Briana) came in 2nd to Pelose in the 1600 (4:28.53) and the 800 (2:02.03 PR).  He also capped off the 4×4 his freshmen compatriot sparked.  Other Haddonfield individual scorers included: Brandon Quanci (3200, 4th, 10:13.55); Grady Carr (HJ, T-6th, 5’6); and Sam Rivard (SP, 5th, 42’3).  

A.P. Schalick’s Samuel Gerstenbacher continued to show improvement in the 1600 with his second consecutive sub 4:30 performance and 3rd place finish in 4:29.45.  Gerstenbacher’s teammate Cosmo Pirozzi lead the other qualifiers in 4:40.90.  He was followed by Pennsville’s Zachary Pope (4:42.69), and Haddon Heights Junior Eric “Rice” Rosenheim (4:43.53).  In the 800, Pelose and Gess were followed by qualifiers Giovanni Aracena of Pleasantville (2:02.95), Cosmo Pirozzi of Schalick (204.32), Buena’s Billy Francz (2:07.35), and Tom Bardon of Gateway (2:07.89).  Gerstenbacher was also the first non-Haddonfield finisher in the 3200 where he placed 2nd in 10:05.81.  He was followed by James Snyder of Pitman (10:09.44), Quanci, Pelose, and Adam Quann of Pennsville (10:15.55).  

Jason Staefanski of Penns Grove proved victorious in the 55m Hurdles with a winning time of 7.85 seconds.  That time was 3/10ths of a second faster than his trial time.  He was followed by Kyle McNeely of Audubon (7.96), Jael Hernandez of Schalick (8.38), Thomas Akins of Buena (8.40), Clayton’s Tom Cliver (8.60), and Darius Burden of Woodstown (8.62).  

Audubon Junior Kyle Limbaga won the 55 dash in 6.76 seconds over Schalick’s Julani Carter (6.82).  They were followed by Ramon Bentley of Salem (6.82), Colehower, Julian Norman from Woodstown(6.94), and Haddon Heights Freshman Anthony DeVan (6.95).  In the last track event of the day, the 4×400 relay, Woodstown’s Barius Burden, Jack Danner, Andrew Horner, and Julian Norman teamed up for a 3:36.58 victory over Haddonfield.  They were followed by Audubon (3:40.77), Pleasantville (3:41.14), Penns Grove (3:44.44). and Schalick (3:48.89).

In the field Pleasantville’s Jean Brevil notched a narrow victory in the shot put with a toss of 47’2.  An inch and a half behind Brevil was Avory Ransome of Penns Grove. LaQuay Bishop, also of Pleasantville, finished 3rd with a throw of 45’7.75.  He was followed by Jaquan Solomon of Woodbury (45’3.75), Rivard, and Dae’shawn Robinson of Penns Grove (41’9.75).

Tarik Robinson of Penns Grove defeated Rahsaan Hayes from Woodbury on misses in the high jump.  Both jumpers cleared 6 feet.  They were followed by Glassboro Freshman John Wallace (5’10), Juan Casiano of Schalick (5’8), and Andrew Horner of Woodstown (5’8).  Kyle Limbaga of Audubon and Grady Carr of Haddonfield tied for the last spot and both qualified with jumps of 5 feet 6 inches.

Gateway’s Steven VanderMeer won the pole vault by a foot with a clearance of 12 feet 6 inches.  Woodstown’s Shane Lister (11’6) placed second.  VanderMeer’s teammate Jarrett Bullock was 3rd with an 11 foot clearance and Pennsville’s Spencer Walker placed 4th (10’6).  Trent Lowe of Schalick placed 5th.  He also cleared 10 feet 6 inches.  The final qualifier was Alec Labb of Pennsville who cleared 10 feet.  

Group 1 Girls:

Haddonfield Girls Dominate South Jersey Group 1

If you place in the top 6 at a Sectional Championship two things happen: 1) you qualify for the State Group Meet, and 2) you score a minimum of 1 point for your team.  The Haddonfield girls qualified 15 athletes!  There are 10 events at the indoor sectional meet.  The Haddonfield girls scored in 9!!  If you win an event at Sectionals you earn 10 team points.  The Haddonfield girls won 7!!!  In all Haddonfield scored 124 points and defeated a solid second place Audubon by 85.5 points.  What a day for the Dawgs!  

Haddonfield was lead by Junior star Briana Gess who won every event she entered.  Gess earned victories in the 400 meters (60.24), the 800 (2:19.46), the 1600 (5:03.25), and the 3200 (11:26.1).  Other Haddonfield event winners included Ana Buzzard who set a personal record of 7.46 second to win the 55 dash, Bridget Kane who cleared 4 feet 10 inches to win the high jump, and the 4×400 relay which consisted of Bridget Kane, Kaitlyn Bonnet, Lizzy Mulvenna, and Nicolette Barranger (4:17.33).  

The only non-Haddonfield track victory was registered by Freshman India Norman of Woodstown who had an absolutely dramatic time drop from the trials to the final in the 55 meter hurdles.  She ran 9.59 seconds in the prelims and entered the finals a distant 3rd seed.  In the final she dropped an astonishing 3 / 4 of a second for the victory in 8.84 seconds.  She was followed by qualifiers Rachael Leyrer of Buena (9.31), Audubon’s Danielle Nicklas (9.35), Lizzie Mulvenna of Haddonfield (9.66), and Schalick teammates Avery Bramell (9.69) and Olivia Moore (10.03).

The shot put was won by Sophomore Zyra Thomas of Schalick (36’8) who won by nearly 2 feet over Jennifer Figueroa of Pleasantville (34’10).  Haddonfield Megan Helf was 3rd in 29 feet 10 inches.  She was followed by Gateway’s Gianna Gismondi (29’1.25), Hannah Carr of Haddon Heights (28’4.75), and Na’Tanya Bryant of Woodbury (27’11.5).  

The Pole Vault was won by Rachel Ondricek of Pennsville who outclassed the competition with a 9 foot 6 inch clearance.  The other qualifiers were Haddon Heights Sophomore Morgan Raws (7’6) and Rebecca Martin of Woodbury (7’0).

Following Gess in the 400 meters were qualifiers Rebekah Clark of Pleasantville (61.25), Danielle Nicklas of Audubon (62.23), hurdles champion Norman (62.95), Nicolette Barringer of Haddonfield (63.33), and Woodstown’s Neshani Biegen (64.40). Haddonfield teammate Kaitlyn Bonnet followed Gess in the 800 with a time of 2:22.10.  Other qualifiers included Molly Furlong of Audubon (2:25.03), Meg Schroeter of Haddonfield (2:27.84), Haddon Heights’ Claudia Bowman (2:31.30), and Alyssa Sanders of Pitman (2:33.02).  

Behind Buzzerd in the 55 meter dash were qualifiers Rebekah Clark of Pleasantville (7.51), Gabrielle Dillard of Clayton (7.57), Haddonfield’s Layla Watkins (7.67), Freshman Morgan Bull of Haddon Heights (7.70), and Danielle Nicklas of Audubon (7.74).  In the 1600 meters Haddonfield’s Bonnet placed second to teammate Gess in 5:19.28.  They were followed by Olivia Gerstenbacher of Schalick (5:32.32) whose brother qualified in the boys race.  Other qualifiers included Casey Clarke of Haddonfield (5:37.63), Courtney Catlin of Pennsville (5:38.10), and Buena’s Kristin Siegle (5:42.03).

The 3200 followed the theme of the meet:  It was a Haddonfield affair.  Behind Gess were her teammates Lauren Lynch (12:08.06) and Casey Clarke (12:14.31).  They were followed by Gerstenbacher in 12:15.37.  Between the 1600 and 3200 two families consisted of 33% of the boys and girls qualifiers (Gess’, Gerstenbachers).  Holly Schaffer of Audubon finished 5th in 12:26.20, while Woodstown’s Isabel Gallatig closed out qualification in 12:36.64.  

In the last track event of the day (the 4×400 relay) Haddonfield was followed by qualifiers Audubon (4:19.66), Woodstown (4:20.70), Pleasantville (4:23.06), Buena (4:31.77), and Glassboro (4:31.79).  Alyssa Davis of Audubon just narrowly missed out on victory in the high jump.  Her clearance of 4 feet 10 inches tied for the best performance of the day with Haddonfield’s Kane but Kane squeaked out the win on misses.  Other high jump qualifiers included Tiana Jones of Woodstown (also 4’10), and Claudia Bowman of Haddon Heights (4’6).  The final qualifiers tied for 5th place with a 4’6 clearance.  They were Danielle Swilley of Woodstown and Emily Hagan of Audubon.   
Tomorrow: Group 4 Recap and Haddon Township’s Central Jersey Excursion

This Week in SJTrack: SJ Group 3

Toms River, NJ:  The John Bennett Indoor Complex played host to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 and 3 Sectional Championships this past saturday.  In Group 3 Highland Boys captured the title on the back of strong distance performances, while the Winslow Girls used speedsters to cruize a title.  Delsea Girls earned Group 2 honors by scoring in all but one event and their male counterpart Willingboro grasped victory through bursts of scoring in middle distance and explosive events.  

Group 3 Boys

Heading into the South Jersey Group 3 Championship, Highland High School had won three consecutive titles.  The fourth would prove a challenge as the school moved from Group 2 (where they had won the three previous titles) to Group 3 (comprised of larger schools).  Under the leadership of Seniors Jose Figueroa and Sean David the Tartans overcame the group change and captured the title over a surprise second place Timber Creek squad.  Figueroa registered two personal records and scored 20 points as he raced to first place finishes in the 1600 (4:29.54) and 3200 (9:44.86) meters.  Sophomore Ben Woodward added to the Highland point total with a second place finish in the 3200 (9:48.44), while senior Jason Leonardo (6th, 4:38.86) notched a point in the 1600.  David earned important points in the 55 meter high hurdles where he won in 7.72 seconds, the high jump where he placed 4th with a 6 foot jump, and in the 4×400 where he lead off the 6th place Tartan team.  Highland Senior Michael Calabrese finished out the Highland scoring with a 5th place finish in the shot put (48’2.75).  

Other South Jersey qualifiers in the 3200 meters were Daniel Do (3rd, 9:59.22) of Absegami, Joseph Dougherty (4th, 9:59.38) of Hammonton, and sophomores Jesse Schmeizer (5th, 10:06.61) and Korey Green (10:08.62) of Ocean City.  In the 1600 Figueroa was followed by Joseph Dougherty who ran a personal record of 4:31.67 for 3rd, Harrison Mooris (4th, 4:34.86) of Moorestown, and Evan Schmeizer (5th, 4:35.40) of Ocean City.  The other South Jersey scorers in the 55 meter hurdles were Winslow’s Jamil Adams (2nd, 7.81), Johnathan Nguyen of Absegami (3rd, 8.07), Mainland’s Kenny Anderson (4th, 8.24), and Devante Watson also from Winslow (6th, 8.51).  

Timber Creek has been keeping the track warm all winter in the 400.  They continued that solid running with a 2, 3, 4 finish in the open 4 and a scorching 3:23.7 victory in the 4×400.  That 4×400 time is the #3 time in New Jersey this winter and the fastest on a flat track. The Creekers were outdone in the open 4 by Pennsauken standout Marquan Jones who won the event in 50.76 seconds.  He convincingly pulled away from hard charging Chargers Jason Butler (2nd, 51.48), Cameron Stinson (3rd, 51.6), and Jerome Gibson (4th, 51.9).  The TC trio were followed by Winslow’s Jamil Adams (5th, 52.01) and Pennsauken’s Martin Booker (6th, 52.43).

Butler (50.7), Gibson (50.9), and Stinson (50.5) were joined by teammate Dante Witcher (51.3) in their 4×400 victory.  Timber Creek was followed by SJ qualifiers Pennsauken (2nd, 3:30.04), Winslow (3rd, 3:30.51), Bridgeton (4th, 3:32.16), and Highland (6th, 3:35.78).  Creek Assistant Coach Mike Short was happy with the performance but noted they were, “hoping to improve and to be a top seed at states and MOC.”  

Pennsauken Junior Martin Booker won the 55 meter dash with the two fastest times of the day.  He ran 6.58 seconds in his trial heat to earn lane preference in the final.  He capitalized with a 6.56 second finals victory over Winslow Sophomore James Bettis who ran 6.65.  Rounding out the top 6 were Anthony Maturano (3rd, 6.69) from Hammonton, Nahzir Russell (4th, 6.72) of Pennsauken, Stinson (5th, 6.74), and Jones (6th, 6.76).  

In other track action Absegami Senior Bobby Maguire won the 800 meters in 2:01.08.  He was followed by South Jersey qualifiers  Zion Watson (2nd 2:02.35) from Winslow, Moorestown’s Kevin Fox (4th, 2:02.99), Ocean City’s Brendan McClure (5th, 2:03.09), and Philip Iuliucci from Hammonton (6th, 2:03.41 PR).

The Pole Vault saw a victory for Moorestown Senior Kyle Loveland with a 12 foot, 6 inch clearance.  Loveland and his Moorestown teammates were granted school board approval to compete in the meet as they do not have an official winter team.  After reviewing entry numbers for the Central Jersey Sectional Moorestown was moved to their geographically natural section and Loveland was able to come through with a 1’6” victory.  Zachary Lisa of Ocean City finished in a 2nd place tie with Central regional’s Keith Holland.  Both athletes cleared 11 feet.  Tyler Kott of Cumberland and Jeremiah Muntazar of Absegami both qualified when they tied for 5th with 10’6 inch performances.  

After false starting in the 55 meter hurdles Matt Grillo needed to focus.  The high jump’s technical intricacies demand it.  Clearing 6 feet, 2 inches Grillo displayed his concentration and earned the South Jersey title.  2nd through 6th place all cleared 6 feet.  The 5 way tie was broken by misses and the athletes finished in the following order: Anthony Maturano of Hammonton 2nd, Bridgeton’s Mikal Wright 3rd, Highland’s David 4th, and Winslow teammates Keir Smalls and Isaiah Jones 5th and 6th.  

Timber Creek Senior Osemwingie (Joe) Asemota was South Jersey’s top finisher in the shot put.  His substantial toss of 54 feet, 5.5 inches earned him second place honors to Toms River East’s Dan Gillian (57’3.5).  The only other South Jersey shot put qualifier was Highland’s Calabrese.  

Group 3 Girls

The Winslow girls sent a clear message in the first event of day: No one was beating them.  Flora Ahiarakwe (1st, 60.34), Brittany Preston (2nd, 60.44) and Iyianna Williams (3nd, 61.75) swept the event, captured 24 points, and dared the other teams to chase them.  Coach George Horn understatedly describe the meet this way, “Winslow girls put it together for this one.”  In defense of their crown the Eagles added 3 more victories and outpaced 2nd place Timber Creek.  Creek Coach Mike Short was disappointed but said, “The best team won.  Winslow was on a mission.  Great Team win.  Great coaching, talent, effort, and result.”  3rd place Seneca’s Coach Karen O’Neil agreed with Short: “Winslow had a tremendous day, and no team could match their performance on Saturday.”  Other 400 meter South Jersey qualifiers included Cheyenne Beattie of Timber Creek (4th, 62.24), Seneca’s Graycee Heinemann (5th, 62.27), and Creek’s Ziani Smalls (6th, 63.0).

Winslow’s other three victories came in the 55 meter hurdles, the shot put, and the 4×400 meter relay.  Senior Brittany Preston improved her trials time by over 2 tenths of a second to capture the win in 6.36 seconds.  Absegami Juniors Joshonda Johnson and Cyann Moyer were 2nd and 3rd in 8.43 and 8.65 seconds respectively.  Christine Lavallias of Timber Creek was 4th in 8.84, while Absegami’s third qualifier (Mariah Hubbard, 8.87) finished 5th.  Nicole Berry of Winslow was the last qualifier and added another point to the Eagle total.  

The shot put was won by Sophomore Ciarra Johnson of Winslow who outdistanced 2nd place with a 37 feet, 5.75 inch throw.  Gabriel Harris-David of Timber Creek was second in 36’10.5.  She was followed by South Jersey qualifiers Maddie Branway (35’10.25) of Ocean City and Kiey’nay’ja Hunley (34’3) from Pennsauken. Winslow sealed the deal when Williams, Ahiarakwe, Ally Moorison, and Preston teamed up for a 4:06.09 win the 4×400.  They were followed by SJ qualifiers Absegami (4:07.99), Highland (4:11.77), Timber Creek (4:12.06), and Seneca (4:12.84).

Kayla Martin set a goal to continue her outstanding season with two individual wins at the South Jersey Sectional Meet.  She accomplished that goal winning the 800 meters in 2:19.48 and the 1600 in 5:11.93. Winslow’s Nicole Berry (2:21.91) ran a 5 second PR to finish second in the 800.  She was followed by Highland Sophomore Kalin Priest who finished 3rd in 2:22.32.  Seneca qualified all three athletes in the event as Martin’s teammates Sydny Warner (2:25.29) and Kayla Hay (2:25.41) finished 4th and 5th.  Timber Creek Junior Alexa “Not Clarke” Clark rounded out qualification with a 6th place finish in 2:27.56.  

In the 1600 Martin was followed closely by Cross Country Runner of the Year Alyssa Aldridge of Mainland who ran 5:12.55.  In 3rd was Timber Creek’s Alyssa Condell in 5:14.79.  Other South Jersey qualifiers were Triton Junior Kelsey Cummings (4th, 5:18.57), and Seneca’s Warner in 5:20.91 for 6th.

1600 meter runner up Alyssa Aldridge returned with avengence in the 3200 where she lapped the field and ran meet and school records with a time of 10:47.06.  After running 5:12.55 for the open 1600, Aldridge blew the race apart with a 5:14 first 1600 of the 3200.  Creek’s Condell returned for 2nd in 11:29.14, while Triton’s Cummings finished 3rd in 11:37.23.  Amanda Bakley from Pennsauken finished 4th in 11:48.83.  Ashley Ranere became the first Hammonton girl ever to qualify for the Indoor State Meet with her 5th place finish in 12:00.91 and Seneca’s Jessica Sprague rounded out of the qualifiers with a time of 12:05.65.  

Highland Junior Donjai Upshaw won the 55m dash in 7.34 seconds.  Brianna Bryan of Pennsauken was second in 7.48 seconds and Winslow’s Ahiarakwe placed 3rd in 7.49 seconds.  Other South Jersey qualifiers included Freshman Tionna Tobias of Winslow in 7.56 and Timber Creeks Adia Starnes in 7.59 seconds.

Seneca’s pole vault phenom Brittney Raffo continued her skyscraping with a meet record vault of 10 feet, 8 inches.  Her teammate Rebecca Bohi finished 3rd with a clearance of 9’6.  Sarah Polistina was 4th on misses.  She also cleared 9’6.  Mainland’s Rachel Thornton was the other SJ qualifier in the pole vault.  She finished 6th when she cleared 8 feet for the first time this season.  

Timber Creek Junior Kai Starnes defeated Absegami Senior Mariah Hubbard on misses in the high jump.  Both athletes cleared 5 feet 2 inches.  Hubbard’s teammate Leah Gaston turned the tables when she beat Creek’s Azhanee Johnson and Winslow’s Tionna Tobias on misses.  All three athletes cleared 5 feet.  Seneca’s Susann Foley was the last South Jersey qualifier with a 4 feet 10 inch clearance that earned her a tie for 6th.  

This week in SJTrack: SJ Group 2

Toms River, NJ:  The John Bennett Indoor Complex played host to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 and 3 Sectional Championships this past saturday.  In Group 3 Highland Boys captured the title on the back of strong distance performances, while the Winslow Girls used speedsters to cruize a title.  Delsea Girls earned Group 2 honors by scoring in all but one event and their male counterpart Willingboro grasped victory through bursts of scoring in middle distance and explosive events.  

Group 2 Boys

Tyler Davidson proved to be the leader on the track that Willingboro needed.  He won the 400 meters in 50.86 seconds.  He won the 800 in 2:02.11.  He helped his team to a second place finish in the 4×400 with a time 3:31.64, and ultimately he helped Willingboro capture their 4th Sectional Title.  The competition was impressed.  Coach Kevin Sherry, of 2nd place Deptford called them “a very talented and well coached… squad.”

In the 800 Davidson was followed by Tom Long of Cinnaminson who came from behind to run 2:02.61 and qualify for the State meet.  Other 800 meter South Jersey qualifiers included Jake Hellmig of Delsea (4th, 2:04.38), and Aaron Cooper of Willingboro (5th, 2:04.73).  Francis Terry of Sterling, in his second season of track, was outleaned (by Davidson) in the 400 but ran what Coach Jeffrey Mcilvaine called, “a huge time (50.95).”  He was followed by fellow South Jersey qualifiers Oliver Paul of Oakcrest (3rd, 52.00), Sterling teammate Conner Garzon (4th, 52.15), and Willingboro’s Tyshon Hernandez (5th, 53.25).  

Tyler Garland improved by over a tenth of a second from the prelim to captured the 55 meter high hurdles title in a personal record of 7.74 seconds.  Willingboro teammates scored a total of 14 points in the event as Zavian Bell (2nd, 7.83), Jahaad Beckford (4th, 8.20) and Michael Walker (5th, 8.24) all had strong finals performances.  The other South Jersey hurdling qualifiers were West Deptford Senior Josh Legg (3rd, 7.90) and Paul of Oakcrest (6th, 8.25).  

Sophomore George Tenenberg (4:31.78) of Delsea used a devastating kick to win the 1600 over 3200 Champion Michael Ungvarsky (4:33.78) of Cinnaminson. West Deptford teammates AJ Kilpatrick (3rd, 4:33.91) and Mitchel Wileczek (5th, 4:35.20) were the other South Jersey qualifiers.  

Ungvarsky’s victory in the 3200 was his first sectional title.  The All South Jersey Cross Country performer used that XC strength to run a faster closing lap then he ran earlier in the day in the 16.  The other South Jersey qualifiers were Kilpatrick (3rd, 9:48.01), and Delsea teammates Nathan Senatore (5th 9:52.07) and Freshman Colin Kane (6th, 9:56.52).  

Willingboro Junior Yasin Gresham won a tight battle with Myles Davis of Deptford in the high jump.  Both athletes cleared 5 feet 10 inches.  Yasin claimed victory and 10 big points on misses.  The only other South Jersey qualifier was Freshman Rashad Raymond of Cinnaminson who cleared 5 feet 6 inches and tied for 6th place.  

The Delsea duo of Jarrod Brovero and Nick Clarke continued their strong Pole Vaulting season with a 1, 2 finish.  Brovero edged Clarke with a 14 foot clearance.  This was Brovero’s second 14 vault of the week as he cleared 14 feet 6 inches at the SJTCA meet on Tuesday.  Cinnaminson’s Christian Neuman (T-4th, 11’), West Deptford’s Nick Novak (T-4th, 11’) and Daniel Forbes (6th 10’6) of Deptford also qualified.  

Marcus Carter’s personal record performance lead him to a sectional title in the shot put.  The Deptford senior’s throw of 50 feet, 5.5 inches edged second place finisher Enaje Johnson-Hutto by a mere three quarters of an inch.  Terrence Smith of Oakcrest (4th, 47’01.25), Kamron Kobolak (5th, 46’00.25) and Antone Harrell (6th, 43’11) also qualified.  

Freshman Marques Miller just missed an extraordinary 55 meter dash victory but still notched South Jersey’s best Group 2 finish with his 6.68 second runner up performance.  Senior Paul Wickwire edged the standout freshman by a scant two one hundredths of a second.  A Deptford trio of Derrick Clement (3rd, 6.71), Jahmir Ellis (4th, 6.72), and Myles Davis (5th, 6.75) showed sprint depth as they closed out the South Jersey qualifiers.  

In the last event of the day (4×400 meter relay) Deptford capitalized on their sprint strength and earned a close victory over Willingboro.  Tyler Garland, Derrick Clement, Jahmir Ellis, and Myles Davis ran 3:31.44 the win.  The other SJ qualifiers were Sterling (3rd, 3:35.34), and Oakcrest (4th, 3:36.59).

Group 2 Girls

Kira Lester did what Kira Lester does: put on a show.  She started off the meet with an exciting meet record in the 400 meter.  Her time of 57.76 seconds earned her an impressive victory despite a strong efforts by sophomores Aliyah Taylor (2nd 58.21) of Pemberton and Cecelia Gerstenbacher (3rd, 58.77) of Delsea. Sterling’s Aliya Harrison used her first trip under 60 seconds to place 4th in 59.33.  Keisha Whaley (5th 60.62) of Oakcrest and Donyae Shelton of Willingboro (62.62) also qualified.

Lester continued her strong running with a victory in the 55 dash.  Her winning time of 7.22 seconds is the fastest time in the state so far this year.  Taylor (2nd, 7.36), Gerstenbacher (3rd, 7.43) and Harrison (4th, 7.49) all returned from the 400 to qualify in this event.  The other qualifiers were Kierston Johnson of Oakcrest (5th, 7.50) and Amaris Marsh of Deptford (6th, 7.66).  

Lester capped off the day by anchoring teammates Camryn Tirado, Kayla Tucker and Jayla Harrison to a victory in the 4×400 meter relay in 4:08.22.  Other 4×4 qualifiers included Sterling (2nd 4:13.01), Oakcrest (3rd, 4:18.77), Pemberton (4th, 4:19.97), Delsea (5th, 4:21.33), and West Deptford (4:21.40).  

Sterling Sophomore Sydney Coppolino won the 800 meter by a convincing margin of 3.2 seconds.  Her coach Jeffrey Mcilvaine called her performance a “very positive sign for this time of the season.”  Other South Jersey qualifiers included Andrea Benites (Torres) (3rd, 2:25.92) of Cinnaminson, Tirado (5th, 2:25.6) of Deptford, and Sydney’s sister Madison Coppolino (6th, 2:28.80) also of Sterling.  

Madison Coppolino’s 6th place 800 performance was just a glimpse of her day.  She scored in all three distance events.  Her highest finish was the 1600 meter where she was South Jersey’s top finisher.  Her time of 5:19.15 earned her second place to Pt. Pleasant Boro’s Katie Bragen.  The other SJ qualifiers were Katie Rauscher (3rd, 5:19.32) of Delsea, S. Coppolino (4th, 5:24.45), and Olivia Rocks (6th 5:39.83) of Cinnaminson.  

Delea’s Rauscher turned the tables of M. Coppolino in the 3200 earning her highest finish and top SJ honors.  Her hand timed 11:13.7 earned her second place.  Coppolino placed 3rd in 12:21.4h while Freshman Kristina Littlehales of Delsea closed out the scoring in 6th (12:33.3h).  

Delsea’s team Championship was forged with three big skill event victories.  The first came in the 55 meter hurdles where Talyah Cox won comfortably in 8.65 seconds.  Camden’s Lenaami Morton was forced to settle for second in 8.74 seconds after a prelim time of 8.43.  Marsh of Deptford (3rd, 9.04) and Annette Wanjiku of West Deptford (5th, 9.33) were South Jersey’s other qualifiers.  Cox will look to repeat her winning ways next week while Morton will look to find some finals magic.  

Ashley Preston continued Delsea’s winning ways in the Pole Vault.  The impressive freshman cleared 10 feet to earn the victory and a 1 foot margin over her nearest South Jersey Competitor, 3rd place Taylor Clark of Cinnaminson.  The only other South Jersey qualifier was another Delsea Freshman (Madison Mamounis) who cleared 7 feet, 6 inches for 5th place.  

In the shot put Elisia Lancaster dominated the field with a 5 foot victory.  The Delsea Junior’s toss of 38 feet, 5 inches is the #5 throw in the state according to NJMilesplit.  Camden’s Caprina Rogers finished 2nd with a put of 33 feet, 11.75 inches.  Other South Jersey qualifiers included Prisca Blamon (4th, 32’10.75) of Cinnaminson, Navaeh Bell (5th, 32’6) of Lower Cape May, and Gracious Klah (6th 30’7.75) of Willingboro.  

Senior Quinn Bithell won her third consecutive Sectional title in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches.  She is looking to capitalize on this performance in the weeks to come.  According to coach Syd Peterkin she is, “looking forward to getting some work in during the next 2 weeks leading up to the state finals.”  She will need every ounce of that effort to hold of Delsea Talyah Cox who finished in 3rd place with a jump of 5 feet.  She was followed by West Deptford’s Lauren Tigue (4th, 4’10) and Sterling’s Janell Rowe (5th, 4’10).
Coming Tomorrow: SJ Gr 3 recap and all the other SJ action from around the state.

HMHS Reunion At The Armory Track Invitational

Editor’s Note:  The following account was written by Jason Russo, Head Girls Track and Field Coach at Haddonfield Memorial High School.

While Drew Hunter was busy rewriting history at the New Balance Track and Field Center this weekend, several graduates of Haddonfield Memorial High School also happened to spend the weekend on the speedy, historic 200 meter track.  

Shelby Cain (class of 2014) a sophomore runner for the University of Richmond started the reunion Friday night as she ran an indoor personal best of 17:42.72, finishing 15th in the college women’s 5000m race.  Little did Shelby know that the very next day of this two day meet, the same track would be assaulted by several other Haddonfield Dawgs – now running professionally.  

Saturday afternoon, three Haddonfield graduates would compete in three consecutive events on the track.   The first would be Erin Donohue (class of 2001), now with the NY-NJ track club, racing the women’s invitational mile.  On the big stage, Donohue certainly did not disappoint, running 4:29.67 for the mile and finishing second.  

In the very next race, Greta Feldman (class of 2009) also with the NY-NJ track club, would line up to take on the 800.  Feldman would finish 7th in the race, running a time of 2:07.39.

Likely passing each other as they moved and off the track, high school teammate Marielle Hall (class of 2010) toed the line in the VERY NEXT race!  An NCAA champion and graduate of University of Texas, now running for Nike, Marielle certainly ended the Haddonfield weekend with some fireworks.  The former Bulldog cruised to a speedy victory of 8:54.70 in the Women’s Invitational 3000m race.  That time is currently the third fastest time IN THE WORLD run at that distance!    

What a treat for fans of New Jersey and South Jersey Track and Field!  And to think all four ran for the same high school in just a matter of 14 years.