‘I AM AN OLYMPIAN’ … CURTIS THOMPSON FINALLY GETS OFFICIAL WORD!!!!!

Nothing quite as exciting as becoming an Olympian.

Win the Olympic Trials javelin and then sit around and wait a week and a half while some ranking system that’s so complicated nobody on Earth understands it (and isn’t even explained anywhere that we’ve been able to find) decides to update itself and give you enough information to figure out for yourself that, yeah, you’re an Olympian.

is this any way to run a sport? Welcome to U.S. Track and Field.

What a mess.

Curtis Thompson, the world-class javelin thrower from Florence, can now safely – finally – say he’s an Olympian.

We think.

edit – At about 1 p.m., Thompson made it official on Twitter!

Five years after coming up three inches short of winning the Trials and being forced to stay home because of an archaic qualifying rule, Thompson learned he’s an Olympian based on an equally archaic and complex series of qualifying rules in use for the first time.

Thompson won the javelin at the U.S. Trials last month with a throw of 271-3. Because that was just short of the IAAF’s javelin standard of 85 meters (278-10) – a standard only 11 people in the world have reached this year and only three Americans have EVER reached, none since 2007 – he had to wait to learn if he qualified based on a world ranking system the IAAF uses.

Although the details are apparently a closely guarded secret that USATF and IAAF don’t want anybody to know, the system ranks athletes not just on their performance – Thompson is ranked 19th in the world – but on their top five performances over a period of time that appears to be three years (but we’re not sure). Each performance is assigned a numeral grade based on the performance, the importance of the meet and the athlete’s place. Each athlete’s top-five scores are averaged out into a ranking figure, and even if you don’t have the standard, if this figure is among the top 32 in the world as of today and you finished in the top three in the Trials, you’re an OlympIan.

With us so far?

The deadline for athletes to update their scores was yesterday. Thompson, as you can see (click here), is either 27th or 24th, depending on whether you use the ranking on the left side of the screen or the one on the right. We have no idea which one is the important one because none of this is explained anywhere and USATF has refused to return messages we left asking them to explain any of this.

But the important thing is both numbers – 24 and 27 – are less than 32, which means Thompson is safely in the qualifying range after the June 30 deadline for athletes to improve their ranking.

The only thing we don’t know is if this site has been updated through all meets that count in the scoring system. There is no date on the list and neither the USATF or IAAF has bothered to release any information about qualifying.

In any case, even if the list isn’t final, the odds that six (or nine) javelin throwers could improve their score enough to unseat Thompson at this point is statistically zero. 

He’s going to Tokyo.

People wonder why track and field is struggling. Why stands are empty at meets. Why the mainstream media generally ignores it.

Maybe because NOBODY ON THE PLANET KNOWS HOW SOMEONE BECOMES AN OLYMPIAN?

The USATF should have this all spelled out on the front of its catastrophically wretched web site, with a countdown — “CURTIS THOMPSON’S COUNTDOWN TO TOKYO” – that people can follow. On the contrary, they’ve never even mentioned the event on their web site since the Trials in Eugene.

This has to be the worst-run organization on the planet. Curtis Thompson appears to have made the Olympic team and should be on his way to Tokyo later this month and his own governing body doesn’t even want anybody to know!

In any case, we’re thrilled for Curtis, who deserved to go in 2016 and deserved it even more this year.

I just hope someone lets him know he’s on the team before the plane leaves for Tokyo!

Kingsway’s Ryan Allen wins 3,000 racewalk at Nike National Scholastic Championships!!!

Kingsway rising senior Ryan Allen won his second national scholastic racewalk title Wednesday when he finished first in the 3,000-meter event at the Nike Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Allen finished in a personal-best 14:28.87. His previous PR over the 3,000-meter event was 15:50.14 in Virginia Beach in March.

He  had an eight-second leg just 600 meters into the race and a 17-second lead at the 1,000. He won by about 275 meters.

Allen also won the one-mile racewalk at the adidas Indoor Nationals in Virginia Beach in February.

On Wednesday, Allen finished more than a minute ahead of second-place Isaac Gray of Rochester, whose time was 15:43.24.

Allen is the younger brother of Kingsway graduate and rising Cornell sophomore Sam Allen, who placed sixth in the 20,000-meter walk last week at the U.S. Olympic Trials just outside Eugene.

Allen also ran for Kingsway’s track team and had a 1,600 PR of 4:31.94 at Group 4 sectionals at Washington Township. That makes him the No. 5 returner in Gloucester County, behind teammate Kyle Rakitis [4:08.58] – who races in the mile on Saturday – as well as Jacob of West Deptford [4:18.59], Peyton Shute of Woodbury [4:29.28] and Andrew Littlehales of Delsea [4:30.19].

Haddonfield girls chasing relay records at National Scholastic Invite at Hayward Field!!!

Considering the meet is now 3,000 miles away, it’s not surprising the South Jersey contingent at National Scholastic Championships is so small.

But a handful of South Jersey athletes will be competing at Hayward Field in Eugene starting Wednesday and running through Saturday.

One of the more intriguing South Jersey entries is the Haddonfield girls, who are entered in both the 3,200-meter relay on Friday and the distance medley on Saturday. Allison and Lindsay Colflesh and Sarah Naticchia will be on both teams. Olivia Stoner will join them on the 4-by-8 and Peyton Weiner on the DMR.

Haddonfield is No. 2 nationally in the 4-by-8 with its South Jersey-record 9:04.72 from the Cherokee Relays in May. Top-ranked Niwot (Colo.), which ran 8:55.86 in May at the Pomona Invitational  in Lakewood, Colo., is also entered.

Haddonfield is No. 7 nationally in the DMR with a 12:06.82 at the Blue Devil Classic in Westfield in early May. The South Jersey DMR record is Lenape’s 11:53.15 with Camille Franklin, Ana de las Heras, Emily McGee and Natalia Ocasio at Nationals in Greensboro in 2012. 

The state records are Columbia’s 8:45.37 at the 2014 Penn Relays and Red Bank Catholic’s 11:32.29 at the 2011 Nationals in Greensboro.

Here’s a look at all the South Jersey entries this week in Eugene:

BOYS
100-Meter Dash Trials, 9 a.m., Friday
Matt Mazero [Paul VI]

400-Meter Dash Trials, 5:15 p.m. Friday
Michael Mazero [Paul VI]

Mile, 6:45 p.m., Saturday
Kyle Rakitis [Kingsway]

5,000-Meter Run, 10:30 a.m., Saturday
Josh Forrest [Collingswood]
Aidan Groff [Cherry Hill East]
Brady Shute [Woodbury]

400-Meter Hurdles, 9:40 a.m., Friday
Treshan Stevenson [Millville]

3,000-Meter Racewalk, 10:50 a.m., Wednesday
Ryan Allen [Kingsway]

Long Jump, 6:30 p.m., Thursday
Greg Foster [Lumberton, Lawrenceville School]

Triple Jump, 1:30 p.m., Thursday
Floyd Whitaker [Highland]

400-Meter Relay, 11:35 a.m., Thursday
Paul VI [Matt Jenkins, Matt Mazero, Cameron Serafinelli, Michael Mazero]

800-Meter Relay, 1:35 p.m., Thursday
Paul VI [Cameron Serafinelli, Matthew Jenkins, Matt Mazero, Mike Mazero]

Four-Mile Relay, 11:20 a.m., Friday
Haddonfield [Tobias Janssen, Caleb Clevenger, John Hurly, Sean Eisenhower]

1,000-Meter Swedish Relay, 2:35 p.m., Wednesday
Paul VI [Matthew Jenkins, Cameron Serafinelli, Matt Mazero, Mike Mazero]

GIRLS
5,000-Meter Run, 9:30 a.m., Saturday
Sophie Steidle [Collingswood]

High Jump, 6 p.m., Thursday
Tatina Carr [Timber Creek]

Heptathlon, 2:50 p.m., Friday – 6 p.m. Saturday
Bryanna Craig [Millville / Lubbock Coronado], Heptathlon

3,200-Meter Relay, 12:30 p.m., Friday
Cherokee [Nicole Clifford, Meghan Carroll, Erin Jackson, Kelsey Niglio]
Haddonfield [Allison Colflesh, Lindsay Colflesh, Olivia Stoner, Sarah Naticchia]

Distance Medley, 11:30 a.m., Saturday
Haddonfield [Allison Colflesh, Payton Weiner, Lindsay Colflesh, Sarah Naticchia]

A look back at Malachi James’ tremendous freshman season for Willingboro!!!

We got a little sidetracked by the Olympic Trials, but there’s a lot more to wrap up from the 2021 high school season, and we’ll start with Willingboro’s Malachi James, who capped a terrific freshman season with two top-8 finishes at the M-of-C.

James ran a PR 10.76 in the 100 trials at South Plainfield before placing fifth in the final with a 10.84, and he ran eighth in the 200 in 22.07. James ran 21.82 earlier this year.

James finished the year as the No. 15 freshman nationally in the 100 and 14 in the 200, according to the MileSplit database.

He’s the first freshman ever to place in the top-10 in the Meet of Champions in both the 100 and 200. 

His 5th-place in the 100 is the highest by any South Jersey freshman in any event at the M-of-C since 2012, when Dominique Irons of Haddon Heights was second in the triple jump.

The last freshman to medal in the 100 was Camden’s Jamar Ervin in 2000, when he set a national freshman record of 10.35 that still stands.

Ervin, like James, was coached by Martin Booker.

James is the fastest New Jersey freshman in the 100 since Ervin 21 years ago. A few freshmen have run faster in the 200 – Shamali Whittle of  Hamilton North ran 21.75 just two years ago (and doubled the M-of-C sprints this year with 10.55 and 20.95). 

It’s not clear what the South Jersey 200 freshman record is. James likely already has it. The MileSplit database goes back 20 years and doesn’t show anyone faster than James’ 21.82. Ervin didn’t run many 200s and never went under 22 seconds. Burlington’s Brondon Jenkins won a state Group 1 title in the 200 as a freshman in 1993 in 22.26 – a year later he ran 21.46 and won the M-of-C while attending Delran. But it looks like 22.26 was his fastest time in 1993.

The last freshman in the top-eight at a M-of-C in the 200 was Washington Township’s Clayton Crosse, who was eighth in 2015 in 22.27. 

Including converted hand times, James’ 10.76 is No. 12 in Burlington County history and fastest by a Willingboro sprinter since 1986, when Kenny Reynolds and Malik Crawford both ran hand-timed 10.5s, which converts to 10.74, or slightly faster than James ran in the M-of-C trials.

His 200 time is fastest by a Willingboro sprinter since Antonio Abney ran 21.75 in 2007.

James is the No. 3 New Jersey returner for 2022, behind two current juniors – Whittle and Fitzroy Ledgister of St. Peter’s Prep of Jersey City, who ran 10.60 at the South Hudson Championships in Kearney. He’s the No. 8 returner in the 200 and shares the No. 1 spot in South Jersey with Pennsauken sophomore Ejani Shakir, who also ran 21.82.

A difficult day for Marielle Hall, Erika Kemp in U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000

It was a difficult day for South Jersey’s two entries in the 10,000-meter run Saturday morning at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.

With temperatures in the mid-80s, Mount Laurel’s Marielle Hall, a 2016 Olympian and a Haddonfield graduate, ran 34:35.79 and Mount Holly’s Erika Kemp, a Rancocas Valley graduate, dropped out after 6,400 meters at Hayward Field.

Hall has a 10,000 PR of 31:05.71 from the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and has a season-best 31:21.78 this year from a meet at Serra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., in February.

Kemp has run 31:35.63 for 10,000 meters – also at Serra Catholic but in December of 2020. This was her first 10,000 of 2021.

Hall ranks No. 8 in U.S. history at 10,000 meters and Kemp is No. 34. 

KINGSWAY GRAD SAM ALLEN TAKES 6TH IN OLYMPIC TRIALS 20,000 RACEWALK!!!!!

Kingsway graduate Sam Allen placed 6th in the 20,000-meter racewalk Saturday morning at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon.

Allen, a 2020 Kingsway graduate who recently finished his freshman year at Cornell, covered the 12.4-mile course in Springfield, Ore., in a personal-best 1:37.59.

With 1,000 meters to go, Bricyn Healey had closed to within eight seconds of Allen, but Allen closed in 4:52 for his final kilometer, holding off Healey by 19 seconds for a top-six finish.

His kilometer splits ranged from 4:31 for the first 1,000 to a couple 5:22s for his 17th and 19th kilometers.

Allen, who just turned 19 on May 6 and races for Shore Athletic Club, was the youngest competitor in the field of 15 walks who qualified.

The race was won by 20-year-old Nick Christie, who finished in 1:30.48, more than a minute ahead of Daniel Nehnevaj.

Allen’s previous best over a 20,000-meter course was 1:38.26, which he recorded last month in Manchester Township, N.J.

Allen was not projected to finish in the top 10 by Track and Field News, so a 6th-place finish is quite an achievement for the Woolwich Township native.

Allen was the first South Jersey walker to compete in the Olympic Trials since Willingboro native Cliff Mimm in 1988. His father Bob was a member of the 1960 Olympic team.

At Kingsway, Allen competed in both track and XC in addition to independent racewalking. He was 6th man on the 2019 Kingsway cross country team that placed third at Group 4 sectionals.

Cherokee’s Jess Woodard places 7th in shot put at U.S. Olympic Track Trials!

Jessica Woodard placed seventh in the shot put late Thursday night at the U.S. Olympic Track Trials.

Woodard’s best throw went 59-0, well short of her PR of 62-3 1/2, which she threw last month in Tucson.

With a top-three finish, Woodard would have made the U.S. Olympic team headed for Tokyo next month, but she fell about three feet short.

It was a disappointing finish for Woodard, who earlier in the day threw 60-3 1/4 on her only attempt in the qualifying round, which does not carry over to the finals. That wound up being her best throw of the day.

In the finals, she opened with throws of 57-0 3/4 and 58-8 3/4 and then fouled. She was the eighth and final qualifier to reach the second round of the finals, earning her three more throws. 

As the last qualifier, Woodard threw first in the second round of the finals, and she improved slightly to 59-0 on her first throw, moving her into seventh place. She finished with a 58-6 and then a foul on her final attempt.

Woodard had thrown at least 60 feet in her last six meets and seven of eight this year. 

This is the fourth consecutive top-10 finish at nationals for Woodard, who placed 8th in 2017, 9th in 2018 and 6th in 2019. The meet was not held last year.

JESS WOODARD OFF TO FAST START IN SHOT PUT AT U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS!!!!!

A solid start for Jessica Woodard Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Woodard, a 2013 Cherokee High School graduate, easily advanced to the second round of the shot put at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

She took one throw and hit 60-3 1/4, almost exactly two feet below her lifetime best of 62-3 1/2, which she threw in Tucson last month and makes her No. 17 in U.S. history.

Her throw was 6th-best of the first round, although place does not matter at this point.

All that matters is that Woodard was one of the top 12 throwers in the first round who advance to the finals, scheduled for 11 p.m. EST on Thursday evening.

Because the first round and second round are considered separate meets and throws don’t carry over, there was no need for Woodard to take anymore throws after hitting 60-3 1/4 because it was impossible for that throw to not be in the top 12 after each of the 22 entrants had gotten three attempts.

The cutoff for advancing wound up at 56-11 1/2.

On Thursday evening, the 12 throwers who advanced will get three more attempts and the top eight in that group will then get three more. The top seven qualifiers Thursday – including Woodard – have the Olympic standard of 58-0 3/4. 

Woodard threw 58-2 1/4 in the prelims in the 2016 Trials, while she was a sophomore at Oklahoma, and made the finals in Eugene but did not get a legal throw in the final.

She placed 8th at USATF Nationals in 2017, 9th in 2018 and 6th in 2019. The meet was not held last year.

A look ahead at the crazy South Jersey mile talent returning for 2022!!!!

The mile is in good hands in 2022. South Jersey returns five sub-4:20 milers next year and four more who ran 4:24 or faster. It has to be one of the deepest groups of returning milers ever.

Overall, New Jersey returns 14 sub-4:20 milers and 29 sub-4:24 milers. At the Meet of Champions last weekend, 11 of the first 16 finishers were underclassmen, including five of the first seven South Jersey runners.

Going deeper, an incredible 23 underclass South Jersey milers ran sub-4:35, including four freshmen under 4:34.

Next year is going to rock when it comes to the 1,600. Hopefully all 23 of them line up at the South Jersey Invitational, the conditions are perfect, somebody takes it out fast and the whole group runs 4:15 or faster! Hey, ya never know!

Let’s take a look at the fastest South Jersey returners in 2021, a list that begins of course with Meet of Champions winner Kyle Rakitis of Kingsway:

4:08.58: *KYLE RAKITIS, KINGSWAY: Rakitis is undefeated at 1,600 meters this year and never ran slower than 4:12.63, his time when he won states. He’ll run one more 1,600, at the National Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on July 3. Rakitis is No. 2 in South Jersey history, behind Brett Johnson’s 4:08.51 in 2008 and No. 23 in state history.

4:18.08: *TOBIAS JANSSEN, HADDONFIELD: Janssen focused on the 3,200 at states, but he got down to 4:18.08 when he won the Camden County Championships at Haddon Township in May. He was also under 4:20 at the Haddonfield Invitational in a terrific race that also saw Brady Shute of Woodbury and Josh Forrest go under 4:19.

4:18.59: *JACOB COBB, WEST DEPTFORD: Cobb had a very consistent season in both the 1,600 and 3,200. He ran 9:19.89 early in the season and lowered his 1,600 PR from 4:21.64 at the Haddonfield Invite to 4:19.62 at states to 4:18.59 at the Meet of Champions, where he was the No. 2 South Jersey (and Gloucester County), finisher behind only Rakitis.

4:19.15: *ZEB HINKER, LOWER CAPE MAY: Hinker has always run XC but this was his first season of track, and after a few races in the 4:25-4:30 range he had a breakthrough at sectionals with a 4:22.43, then ran 4:19.37 at states and 4:19.15 for 11th at the Meet of Champions. That’s the fastest time by a Cape May County underclassman since Miles Schoeder of Ocean City ran 4:11.46 in 2010.

4::19.61: **PATRICK DITMARS, CHEROKEE: Ditmars was the top sophomore in the Meet of Champions, placing 14th in 4:20.23. He PR’d at 4:19.61 at states, which made him the No. 2 sophomore in the state, just a fraction behind Ryan Beegle of Chatham, who ran 4:19.50 at sectionals.

4:21.07: *BILLY CLEWELL, CAMDEN CATHOLIC: Clewell ran two PRs in a challenging Meet of Champions double, going 1:58.56 in the 800 – his first time under two minutes – and 4:21.07 in the 1,600 for 16th place overall. He was the No. 11 underclassman in the 1,600 and No. 7 underclassman.

4:21.08: *JAKE BUNIVA, LENAPE: When Buniva ran 4:21.08 at sectionals, it was a 12 1/2-second PR and made him Lenape’s fastest miler since Burlington County record holder Ryan Garvin, who ran 4:11.15 at the 2009 Meet of Champions (as part of a remarkable double with 1:53.84 in the 800 in his final high school race).

4:22.60: *DENNIS FORTUNA, TRITON: Fortuna’s focus this year was the 3,200, and he ran 9:28.26 at the Cherokee Night of Race back in April. But in his one serious foray at 1,600 meters he ran 4:22.60 at the Camden County Championships.

4:23.92: *ANDRE FAIGAL, RANCOCAS VALLEY: That 4:23 at sectionals was a 12-second PR and makes him one of three Burlington County underclassmen under 4:25 this spring.

ALSO UNDER 4:35:
4:25.42 … *Owen Ritti [Ocean City], SJ-3 Sectionals
4:25.68 … *Linden Wineland [Mainland Regional], SJ-3 Sectionals
4:28.69 … *Scott Hubbard [Audubon], SJ-1 Sectionals
4:29.28 … ***Peyton Shute [Woodbury], Group 1 Sectionals
4:30.19 … *Andrew Littlehales [Delsea], Haddonfield Distance Night
4:31.94 … *Ryan Allen [Kingsway], SJ-4 Sectionals
4:32.94 … ***Owen Karcsh [Eastern], Group 4 Sectionals
4:32.95 … *Jeffrey Heineman [Kingsway], Holmdel Twilight
4:32.96 … *Makaio Kelii [Audubon], SJ-1 Sectionals
4:33.16 … **Alex Boyko [Cinnaminson], Haddonfield Distance Night
4:33.84 … ***Jorge Cruz [Wildwood], Group 1 Sectionals
4:34.48 … *Aiden Dickinson [Cherokee], Cherokee Last Chance
4:34.55 … **Cole Knoedler [Highland], Haddonfield Distance Night
4:34.90 … *Justin Penny [Lenape], Wash. Twp. dual meet

*** – freshman in 2021
** – sophomore in 2021
** – junior in 2021

EHT’s Mariah Stephens wins Meet of Champions triple jump in incredibly dramatic fashion!!!!!

Here’s how close the Meet of Champions triple jump was:

Going into the final group of jumps, Faith Bethea of Snyder led the competition with a 37-7 jump, Kiley Mironenko of Waldwick was second at 37-5 1/2 and Egg Harbor’s Mariah Stephens was third at 37-3 3/4.

So as they warmed up for the finals, Stephens jumped sixth out of the eight finalists, with Mironenko seventh and Bethea eighth.

With one jump left, nobody had improved on their best jumps of the competition, and Bethea – who already had four jumps over 37 feet – was one jump away from a Meet of Champions title.

Stephens lined up for the final jump of her high school career, and when the official yelled out the measurement – 37-10 1/4 – it put her in the lead.

That was exciting, but there were two jumps to go, and Mironenko and Bethea both had PRs beyond Stephens’ best jump. Mironenko has jumped 37-11 and Bethea – undefeated all year – had a state-leading PR of 39-9.

Mironekno went 36-8 1/4 on her final jump and then it was down to Stephens and Bethea, who is ranked in the top 40 nationally.

Bethea had already jumped 37-7, 37-0 1/2 twice and 37-6 1/4 and when she landed on her final jump of the day she was in almost exactly the same spot as Stephens on her final jump.

Anything from 37-10 1/4 or better gives Bethea the win. Anything at 37-10 or less gives Stephens the win.

The measurement? Would you believe exactly 37-10?

Since Bethea had a superior second jump, a tie would have given her the championship. So Stephens won herself a Meet of Champions by literally the smallest possible margin – one quarter of an inch.

That actually only ties the record for closest Meet of Champions triple jump 1-2 finish in meet history! 

In 2002, Ebony Foster of Hillsborough jumped 37-0 and edged Trisha McGowan of Ridgewood by a quarter of an inch. In fact, the top six that year were all separated by just 6 3/4 inches!

As for Stephens, she became the second straight Atlantic County M-of-C triple jump winner. In 2019, Claudine Smith of Atlantic City won. Oakcrest’s Shameka Marshall won the title in 2001, and the only other South Jersey M-of-C triple jump winners are Pennsauken’s Thananya Wooden in 2000 and Jessica Mills of West Deptford in 2005. So three of the five S.J. winners are from Atlantic County.

Bethea and sprinter Lauren Princz, who won the 200, gave Egg Harbor two Meet of Champions after the school produced just one in meet history – Princz in the 200 in 2018.

Incredibly, Egg Harbor is the first South Jersey school in 40 years with two different girls winning a Meet of Champions title in the same year. 

The only other school to accomplish that was Willingboro in both 1980 and 1981 with Michelle Glover and Carol Lewis. Glover swept the 100 and 200 in 1980 and 1981 and Lewis the 100-meter hurdles and long jump.