Mario Heslop of Franklin Township entered Saturday's Meet of Champions with a quest to become the first athlete to win the 55m, 200m, and 400m dashes. A triple only made harder by the rapid events schedule at this meet which finished in just two and a half hours.
He opened the meet with a 49.57 to win the 400m dash over Zachariah Murray of Haddonfield in second at 49.80. That time came while pulling up a bit at the end to save for later. Let the 1600m and 55m hurdle trials go by before Heslop lines up for his own 55m dash prelim where he posts the second fastest qualifying performance at 6.44.
After getting some rest during the 800m heats Heslop was now scheduled for the 200m dash where he notched his second gold medal of the day running 21.82. And with only 11 minutes and 28 seconds of rest from the finish line he found himself once again in his blocks for the 55m dash final.
This is where the attempt for triple gold fell just short. The final was won by Akpadago where he once again tied the meet record at 6.38. Heslop had to settle for second timed at 6.41, a repeat of last year where he also won the 200m, 400m, and finished second in the 55m. Between indoor and outdoor Heslop now owns six Meet of Champions titles.
After his race he said he'll keep chasing history until he gets it, with another attempt to win the 100m, 200m, and 400m at the Outdoor Meet of Champions this coming spring. We'll see him one more time this winter though when he competes at New Balance Nationals Indoor in the 60m and 200m dash.
For Akpadago, this is a solid PR and a good sign heading into New Balance Nationals Indoor where he looks to lower that time even more. He's won five out of the six 55m dash finals he's competed in this season and is undefeated against New Jersey sprinters in that event. Only a junior he'll be back again next year to defend his title.
Sincere Rhea of St. Augustine Prep made his own history on Saturday when he won his second straight 55m hurdles Meet of Champions title. His time of 7.22 in the finals ranks third in meet history and makes him just the fifth boy to win two in a row in the hurdles. He's the first to repeat since Sultan Tucker of Delsea did so in 1996-1997.
This was after he led prelims with a 7.25, that was fourth in meet history at the time. The effort was close to that 7.19 meet record held by Jermaine Collier of Trenton Central since 2012.
Rhea is the current state leader with a 7.20 from his win at Eastern States Championships and ranks US#2 heading into New Balance Nationals Indoor. Along with attempting All-American status again he will make a run at that 7.07 state record held by Cory Poole of East Orange Campus since 2017.
*Note if searching for Mario Heslop's video interview we unfortunately lost sound during his session, apologies.