The NJSIAA Girls Meet of Champions kicks off on Sunday 10am at the Bubble in Toms River, New Jersey. Some events have strong favorites and others are wide open, especially with key stars missing from the lineup.
Win streaks seem to be the word for this meet. Victoria Vanriele is looking to make it three straight in the 800m, Union Catholic looks to bring home their fifth straight 4x400m title, the Ridge girls have won the only two years the 4x800m Showcase has existed and are in striking distance for a third straight title.
We also have defending champs looking for two in a row.. Kaira Brown is defending her title in the 400m, Shauntae Nelson is back to defend the 200m Showcase, Nicole Vanasse could possibly make it two in a row in the 3200m, and state leader Jenna Rogers looks to win two straight in the high jump. Read more on these athletes and who the potential upsets could be down below.
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Girls Meet of Champions Preview
400 Meter Dash - State Rankings
Last year as a junior Kaira Brown of Kent Place School became the first 400m dash winner at this meet not named Olivia Baker or Sydney McLaughlin since 2010 when she ran 57.00. She is back to defend the title, this time the top seed coming off a 56.95 to win the Non-Public A title and ranked NJ#3 on the season with a 55.79.
Behind her the field gets very interesting and there are a few girls totally capable of taking this one away if given the chance. Lily Orr of Rumson-Fair Haven, now a junior, was second to Brown in 2018, she won the Group 2 title running 57.30 and just recently ran a PR of 57.10 to finish third at Eastern States.
Interesting note here is head to head in that Easterns race Rebecca Ochan of Highland Park finished ahead of Orr in second at 56.88, the Group 1 Champion is seeded fourth out of Groups having run 57.68 and this is the sole event she's concentrated on this season. Just a sophomore, Jade Pope of Pennsauken has also certainly made a case for herself with an impressive drop in time running 57.46 out of Sectionals she then cruised to the Group 3 win the following week.
Prediction: Kaira Brown
1600 Meter Run - State Rankings
This is another race that has variables based on where people run. Last year's Champion Madison Brand has graduated, the top returner and current state leader in the event Abby Loveys was sick and didn't run Groups to advance.
Julia Trethaway could very well find a Meet of Champions title here, leading the way out of Groups with a 5:00.86 Group 3 title she is the top seed. On the season Trethaway ranks NJ#4 with a 4:56 run in late January at her county championship. We'll have to see if she goes after this or the 3200m.
Jerika Lufrano of Union Catholic is also a very strong contender, ranked third in the seeds with her 5:02.92, she is NJ#6 on the season. We also have two freshmen in the mix with #2 seed Camryn Wennersten of Ridgewood and #4 seed Caroline Mehlhorn of Montgomery. They had a head to head duel at Group Championships and it'll be fun to see them battle it out once again.
I could also see Corina Vidal, Meredith Finley, Laura Baeyens, Eliana Swell, Manon Stephen all drop PRs to make it interesting this weekend as well. Many of them have been running so strong this state season it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see a statement race. If we see a switch up from Nicole Vanasse to run this instead of the 3200m she is NJ#7 this season as well in the event and could make noise.
Prediction: If running, Julia Trethaway, if not, Jerika Lufrano.
55 Meter Hurdles - State Rankings
Unfortunately Grace O'Shea will not be back to defend her title in the hurdles. She stumbled out of the prelims at Groups and did not advance in this event, she did make it in the 55m dash though.
Even without O'Shea three of the top four finishers from last year return to the event and this race is wide open with plenty of talent to battle it out.
Those three returners are Tionna Tobias of Winslow, Claudine Smith of Atlantic City, and Isabelle Dely of Paramus Catholic. Smith posted an 8.13 to win her third straight Group title last weekend, Tobias also won her Group and recently finished second at Eastern States running 7.98 NJ#2, Dely right behind at Easterns in third running NJ#3 8.06.
Prediction: Claudine Smith
55 Meter Dash - State Rankings
The defending Meet of Champions winner in the 55m dash, as well as the outdoor 100m dash, Sydney Hawkins unfortunately hasn't competed since December. But multiple athletes from last year's final do return and a solid lineup of athletes still remains to compete for the title.
We have four girls ranked NJ#1 through NJ#4 between 7.12 and 7.13! Dennisha Page of Woodrow Wilson threw down a wicked 7.12 at Group Champs to tie Lauren Princz of Egg Harbor Twp for the state lead. Sydney Tucker of Union Catholic and Jailya Ash of Eastern Regional have both recorded 7.13s this season.
Prediction: Lauren Princz
800 Meter Run - State Rankings
Victoria Vanriele of Governor Livingston looks to win her third straight indoor Meet of Champions title and fifth overall between the winter and spring seasons. She enters the meet as the top seed having run a 2:09.72 US#9 performance at Group Championships. In 2018 she ran a meet and Bubble facility record of 2:08.81. She has a strong chance of breaking her own record with a hot time on Sunday.
While Vanriele is a heavy favorite there is plenty of talent looking to medal in this race. Union Catholic's junior Leena Morant has really proven she's among the best in the state, she was second during this event at Outdoor MOCs and was fifth last indoor. She enters the race with an indoor PR of 2:15.45, and posted a 2:10.61 last spring.
Sarah Adams of Ramapo has really made strides as well, the senior was second at Eastern States with a NJ#3 2:14.77 on Tuesday. Colts Neck freshman Lilly Shapiro has opened some eyes this state season, especially after her 2:17 to win her Section. Also keep an eye out for Kate McAndrew of Morris Catholic, the Non-Public B state champ, and Morgan Lyons of Ridge.
Prediction: Victoria Vanriele
200 Meter Dash - State Rankings
The defending champion Shauntae Nelson of Piscataway is back to defend her title this year and definitely has a shot to do it. She currently ranks NJ#4 with a time of 23.81 from Easterns, a meet where she went head to head with other girls entered into the event. Mariah Fede, Lauren Princz, and Jewel Ash all finished fourth through sixth in that same final that Nelson finished third.
The meet record is 24.94 set by Aliyah Taylor of Rancocas Valley in 2017.
Prediction: Shauntae Nelson
3200 Meter Run - State Rankings
Pingry's Nicole Vanasse, the defending champion in this event, is back again having won the Non-Public A title running 11:08 and is seeded eighth coming in. She dropped major time last year to run 10:34 for the win as a sophomore, a time that really put her on the map at that distance on the track. She also has a quick 1600m in her as well so it'll be interesting to see where she focuses.
With the 1600m and 3200m state leader Abby Loveys missing Groups due to illness her chances at defending the title are greater but there is still some heavy competition in this event should they choose to run it.
Julia Trethaway of West Morris Central, NJ#2 at 10:37, has been on a mission this season and has a chance to go after her first MOCs title in either this event or the 1600m. She won Group 3 State Champs in both events.
Freshman sensation Camryn Wennersten of Ridgewood could very well find herself atop the podium, she has posted a 10:44 NJ#3 performance this season. Emily Nugent of North Hunterdon hasn't raced often this indoor but has been very effective when she does, taking home the Group 4 State title running a PR of 10:49 NJ#4.
Prediction: Depending on Participation Julia Trethaway / Nicole Vanasse
4x400 Meter Relay - State Rankings
Looking at the meet schedule with the 4x800m right afterwards it could pull certain athletes between them but Union Catholic's 3:50.93 NJ#1 seed has them pretty high on the list here. Not only that but the Union Catholic girls are going for a ridiculous FIFTH STRAIGHT title in the event, expect them to up their game with the streak on the line.
Rancocas Valley, Millville, Ramapo, Woodbridge, and Rumson-Fair Haven could all be upset tickets. Every one of those teams has a sub-4 time.
Prediction: Union Catholic
4x800 Meter Relay - State Rankings
Not long after we dropped a mid-season report on the potential showcase contenders Union Catholic dropped a big time 9:07.44 US#1 to win the Millrose Games 4x800m. Since then Ridge at 9:15 US#4 and Red Bank Catholic 9:26 NJ#3 have both improved their stock in the event as well.
Ridge looking to make it three years in a row, they are the only team to win the indoor 4x8 showcase since it started two years ago.
With the 4x800m at the end of the meet so athletes are more likely to double back we could see some fireworks. Will be interesting to see how the 4x400m right beforehand effects it now as well. The meet record set last year by Ridge could be jeopardy as well, a 9:14.47.
Haddonfield, Ridgewood, River Dell, Pingry, and Colts Neck could all have a great race if they go for it.
Prediction: Union Catholic
High Jump - State Rankings
Jenna Rogers currently leads New Jersey at 5-10, a clearance from December, which also still holds at US#5. She has amassed eight wins this season in the event. She was however defeated at Eastern States by Rancocs Valley's Bethany Biggi and Montgomery's Abrianna Barrett. Barrett is a former outdoor MOCs winner and won the Group 4 title this season.
Rogers has a good shot at the meet record of 5-10.5 set by Tatiana Smolin of Randolph back in 1984.
Tierra Hooker, who was second last year behind Rogers last year, Meghan O'Malley, Carly Tarentino, Kenady Wilson, and Carlie Wilson could all also make a title winning day of it if they hit their marks right and the cards fall their way.
Prediction: Jenna Rogers
Pole Vault - State Rankings
State leader Sydney Woods of Demarest unfortunately was out with injury for Groups and won't be competing at the Meet of Champions, she is currently NJ#1 at 13-00.75.
NJ#2 vaulter Caroline Dannenbaum of Pingry School now leads the way into the meet with her season best height of 12-00.25 to win Non-Public A. Larsen Riley of Pt. Pleasant Boro has made big strides this season as well, clearing 12-0 to win Group 2 State Champs, currently the third highest in the state. They recently competed against each other at Eastern States where Dannenbaum finished with the upper-hand in second at 12-00.
Also keep an eye out for Lindsey Michie, Mue Carroll, Annie Hathaway, Sabrina Ray, and Marisa DiGia. Most of those girls ranked top six in the state and all toward to top of the incoming performance list.
Prediction: Caroline Dannenbaum.
Shot Put - State Rankings
Cydney Thomas of Haddon Heights broke this shot put season wide open with her PR of 46-01 to win Sectionals. She has seven wins on the season now, undefeated, including a Group 1 State Title. She is also the top returner from last indoor MOCs where she finished fourth as a sophomore throwing 40-07.5.
Also keep an eye out for Denae Hill of West Orange, Jada Sewell of Demarest, Kayla Morgan of Morristown, Alijah Caul of Sterling, Alicia Campbell of Snyder, and Stephanie Nwankwo of Jefferson. All of those girls over 40 feet this season.
Prediction: Cydney Thomas