The sprints and hurdles saw a mix of familiar faces as well as first time champions on Sunday at the Meet of Champions.
400 Meter Dash
In the 400m dash Kaira Brown of Kent Place started the meet off by defending her title with a 55.91, her fastest at the Bubble and just off her season best of 55.79. Good sign to see that kind of time on the flat track in Toms River so close to her early February run at the banked Armory in New York.
Time wasn't on her mind today however, it was all about that place and making sure she was the Champ once again. This is her third straight Meet of Champions win including outdoor.
She qualified for the 400m Championship event at New Balance Nationals Indoor and will look to try and achieve All-American status.
55 Meter Hurdles
Claudine Smith became the first ever indoor Meet of Champions winner from Atlantic City HS when she took the 55m hurdles final running a PR of 8.03 for NJ#3. This was a big achievement and long time goal for Smith, who placed fourth the past two years in the event, and it was certainly a motivating factor coming into today's meet.
"I feel like you have to lose sometimes to win again," Smith stated, "Just don't give up, even if you lose don't be mad at yourself because you always have a chance to do it over again."
Smith led the prelims with an 8.06, her biggest competition coming into the meet out of Group Championships was Tionna Tobias of Winslow. While Tobias qualified second out of prelims, she tweaked her hamstring and pulled out of the final as a precaution.
55 Meter Dash
The 55m dash was one of the closest finishes of the weekend and the tight competition led to the top two times of the season for New Jersey. Eastern Regional sophomore Jailya Ash out leaned Dennisha Page of Woodrow Wilson 7.06 to 7.07.
Both of those times rank within the top 25 in the country this season.
When asked if she knew who won with such a tight finish she noted some celebratory cues from her family in attendance. "Well I thought I won because I heard my Sister and my Mom screaming," Ash said, "That's all I listen for, I just zone everybody else out."
She also noted that while the finish was exciting she gave credit to having one of the best starts in her track and field career. Something she's been putting a lot of time into this season to find more speed.
200 Meter Dash
Another defending champion and another exciting finish for the girls 200m showcase event. Shauntae Nelson of Piscataway clocked a 25.03 to out run Egg Harbor Twp's Lauren Princz who finished second with 25.05.
Those two now rank as the third and fourth fastest competitors in the history of the event at this meet. It was run in 2005 and 2006 before a long absence and then eventual return in 2015.
As a returning champion the strong competition Nelson faced to defend her title didn't surprise or faze her.
"I knew there was going to be some very stiff competition, I knew I had to get out hard," Nelson reflected, "I had to be quick if not the first to get to the curve, I knew it was going to be a fight to the line and a lean would determine the outcome."
Nelson has a PR of 24.81 indoors for the event and will likely be competing in the 200m dash and 4x200m at New Balance Nationals Indoor later this month.