Storylines to Watch at the 2018 Meet of Champions

Here's a look at some of the top storylines to keep an eye on at Saturday's NJSIAA Meet of Champions. 

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Akeem Lindo of East Orange may take a shot at becoming the first boy in meet history to win four golds. Lindo is NJ #1 in both the 110 (13.85) and 400 hurdles (52.75 ) and will run on the NJ #1 4x400 team (3:14.54). East Orange coach Lance Wigfall said there's also a chance he could put Lindo on EO's NJ #3 4x100 squad (42.19). Deptford (41.72) and Bridgeton (42.05) are NJ #1 and NJ #2 in the 4x100.


There's been a lot of speculation about which races Franklin junior Mario Heslop will run. He won the 100, 200 and 400 at the Group 4 meet, and is NJ #1 in all those races. And he also qualified with his team in the 4x400.

So what will he do? 

According to Franklin coach Dashaun Gourdine, the plan is for Heslop to run the 100, 200 and 4x400. In the 100 and 200, he will be chasing the state records of 10.35 (Jamar Ervin of Camden in 2000) and 20.93 (Danny Johnson of Rahway in 2001). Heslop's PR's are 10.44 and 20.97. If Heslop wins three golds, he'd become just the fifth boy to ever pull off the hat trick 


This has a chance to be the greatest pole vault competition in state history as Hayley Horvath of Notre Dame and Caroline Dannenbaum of Pingry, who had an epic battle last week, clash again. At the State Non-Public A meet, Horvath won on misses over Dannenbaum after both cleared 13-0, which is No. 2 in history. So not only is the meet record of 12-6 in serious jeopardy, but the state record of 13-3 set in 2003 by Danielle O'Reilly of Shawnee could go down.


There has only been one 800 in meet history where more than one runner went under 1:50 in the 800. That happened in 2014 when Ishmael Muhammad of Oakcrest ran a meet record and NJ # 2 All-Time 1:48.52, and Joe White of DePaul went 1:49.08.

But with the firepower expected to toe the line in this race, there is a chance multiple runners will get under 1:50.

Passaic junior Luis Peralta is the state leader at 1:50.41, which he ran to win Group 4. But Drew Maher of Shore (1:50.73), and junior Sean Dolan of Hopwell Valley (1:51.37) are also capable of dropping a low number.

But there are some questions regarding Maher and Dolan. 

Maher, the indoor M of C winner in the 1,600 and runner-up in the outdoor 1,600 last year, is running the 1,600, which will be run before the 800. So it remains to be seen how much he will have left in the tank for 800. Only two runners have ever won both the 800 and 1,600 at the same meet (John Richardson of Ocean City and Patrick Rono of Lyndhurst).

As for Dolan, he's running the 800 on Friday at the Brooks PR Invit. in Washington. How much will that take out of him?  


There has only been one brother combination in state history to win outdoor Meet of Champions titles, Kevin and Glenn DiGiorgio of Bayonne, who combined to win eight outdoor titles. But Nick Mirabelli of Rancocas Valley has a great chance to change that. 

If the Texas A&M-bound Mirabelli, who has the top throw in the state this season of 220-11, wins he'll join his brother Chris as an outdoor M of C winner. Chris Mirabelli won the M of C javelin as a junior at Holy Cross in 2013. But that's not all. Mirabelli is also determined to break the state record of 224-10 set in 2014 by Curtis Thompson of Florence.


After winning the 3,200 titles as sophomores last year, Devin Hart of Point Pleasant Boro and Alexa Westley of Warren Hills are favored to win again.

Westley is seeking to become the first girl to repeat in the 3,200 since Olympian Erin Donohue of Haddonfield won in 2000 and '01. Hart, aiming for his fourth M of C title (he also won in XC and indoors in the 3,200), is attempting to become the first boy to win back-to-back 3,200's since Craig Forys in 2006 and '07.

But Hart, who has run a NJ #1 9:05.06 this season, is also running in Friday's two-mile at the Brooks PR Invitational in Washingston. So, will that hurt his chances of repeating as champ and open the door for a possible upset? Will Hare of Princeton, the Group 4 champ with a NJ #2 9:09.77, has the best chance of scoring the upset.


Seniors Shelby Bigsby of Montclair and C.J. Licata of Gill St. Bernard's, who each won the M of C shot put titles indoors, are each NJ #1 in the shot put and discus and could each sweep those events as they aim for the first outdoor titles of their careers.

Bigsby, who threw an All Groups record 49-0 to win Group 4 last week, is aiming to break her PR of 50-2 that she threw indoors. Licata is a huge favorite to win the shot, but in the discus he'll have to contend with Kamron Kobolak of Cinnaminson, who is tied with Licata for NJ #1 with a 184-3.


No girl has ever won the high jump and triple jump, but Tiffany Bautista of Paramus Catholic has a great chance to be the first.

Bautista, a junior, is NJ #1 in the triple jump with a 40-6 3/4, and is tied for NJ #1 in the high jump at 5-10. Also at 5-10 this season is Jenna Rogers of Rutherford. Rogers, the indoor M of C HJ winner, won the New Balance National title as a freshman last year by clearing a national freshman and NJ state record 6-0 3/4. The meet record of 5-10 could fall.

Bautista also qualified in the long jump where she has a gone a NJ #6 18-8 3/4, but it remains to be seen if she will try all three jumps. Tionna Tobias of Winslow is the big favorite in the LJ after her All Groups record 19-11 1/2 to win Group 3 last week. Tobias will be trying to become just the seventh girl to ever hit 20 feet.


Shakira Dancy of Winslow will be trying to join Myasia Jacobs of Parmus Catholic as the only girls to win three straight 200 titles. But Dancy, who is NJ #5 at 24.33, will have to beat a loaded field that includes freshman Lauren Princz of Egg Harbor, who is NJ #1 at 24.00. 


Reanda Richards of West Essex has a great chance to win two events, but the big question is which two? Richards will run the 400 hurdles where she is the overwhelming favorite with her NJ #1 58.95. But will she also go for the 100 hurdles or the 400? She's NJ #1 in the high hurdles at 13.89, and NJ #4 in the 400 at 55.45. Only two girls have ever swept the hurdles, and only two girls have pulled off the 400 hurdle/400 double.


Can Madison Brand repeat her indoor feat in the 1,600? Will the Shore Conference go 1-2-3 in the boys race?

There are certainly a lot of posibilities in the 1,600 races.

In the girls race, Brand, a senior at Middletown South, was second in the Group 3 race last week to Caroline O'Sullivan of Old Tappan. The same thing happened indoors and Brand came back to win the M of C 1,600 title. While Brand and O'Sullivan should be right in the thick of things, look out for Randolph junior Abby Loveys, second to Brand at the indoor M of C. Loveys comes into the race with a NJ #1 time of 4:50.53. 

In the boys race, the three fastest runners in the field are from the Shore Conference, Drew Maher of Shore, second last year with a PR of 4:09.92, Tim McInerney of CBA (4:10.75), and Damien Dilcher of Brick Township (4:11.28). McInerney owns a head-to-head win over Maher at the Monmouth County Championships. 


Soph. Victoria Vanriele of Gov. Livingston is heavily favored to win her second straight 800 and the fourth title of her career (she's won two 800 indoor M of C titles) 


The Bergen County record in the pole vault has changed hands a couple times this season. Tyler Hrbek of Old Tappan broke it multiple times this season, including a 15-6 at the East Coast Relays. But Liam Landau of Pascack Hills took it away when he made 15-7 1/2 to win the state Group 2 title.

Only two vaulters have ever cleared 16-0 at the M of C, but Landau, Hrbek and Group 4 champ David Bausmith of Hunterdon Central (15-6 this season) are all capbale of making 16-0.


No one has ever hit the 50-foot mark in the triple jump at this meet, but state record holder Khaliel Burnett of Delsea is a good bet to be the first. Burnett had gone over 50 feet in in last two meets, including a state record 50-9 1/4 to win the state Group 2 title last week. So the meet record of 49-11 3/4 by Myles Hartsfield of Sayreville in 2014 should go down.  


Amaya Chadwick of Union Catholic has been agonizingly close to winning a M of C title in the 100 hurdles with three runner-up finishes, two outdoors and one indoors. Will the Purdue-bound senior grab the gold this time?