The names keep changing, but the winning ways remain the same for the Christian Brothers Academy boys and the Union Catholic girls.
Year after year both track and field powerhouses lose All-State athletes and several key point scorers to graduation, but new stars keep emerging to maintain their status as arguably the two best programs in the state.
The latest example came on Monday when CBA and Union Catholic blitzed the competition en route to their sixth straight titles at the NJSIAA Non-Public A Relays at the Bennett Center in Toms River.
CBA's six titles in a row is tied for the third most in meet history for a boys program behind the eight straight won by Asbury Park (1988-95) and CBA (1981-1988).
UC's six straight titles is the second most for a girls program in meet history behind the nine in a row that Hopewell Valley captured from 2002-10.
With the victory, CBA, which scored 80 out of a possible 90 points in its 26 point win over runner-up Union Catholic, extended its state record to 29 state relay titles overall. That's 12 more than Willingboro's 17, which is No. 2 in met history.
CBA, which received huge contributions from several athletes and a great triple from Liam O'Hara, won five events (4x200, SMR, 4x800, 4x400, and the shot put), and placed third or better in the other four events.
The UPenn-bound O'Hara split a CBA record 21.8 on the winning 4x200, 50.9 in the SMR, and 7.2 in the shuttles, a remarkable performance when you consider he did it all in less than an hour during the very quick meet (the track events only took 1:50 minutes to complete).
In other highlights for CBA, University of Colorado-bound Shaw Powell came from behind with a 1:57.2 anchor leg to give CBA the win in the SMR in a NJ#2 3:35.48, and he also anchored the runner-up DMR.
Ethan Ferraiola (23.4/51.0) and William Seijas (22.1/53.1) each ran strong legs for CBA in the 4x200 and 4x400. Troy Hill anchored the winning 4x800 (2:04.1) and led off the DMR (3:15.2). Eros Bottino (53-0) and Christian Ricci (52-1) had the top two throws of the meet to win the shot put, and Mitch Hall cleared 6-0 in the HJ. The victory in the shot put marks the sixth time in the past seven years that the Colts finished first in that event.
On the girls side, triple winner Avery Jordan was one of many stars for Union Catholic, which struck gold six times (shuttle hurdles, 4x200, SMR, 4x800, 4x400, and the high jump), and outscored runner-up Notre Dame, 75-28.
UC, which came into the meet ranked NJ#1 in the 4x400 (3:56.34), 4x800 (9:21.86), and shuttles (31.50), and NJ#2 in the SMR (4:16.02), and NJ#3 in the 4x200 (1:44.82), nearly matched its season best times in the shuttles (32.17), SMR (4:16.16) and 4x200 (1:44.82).
Jordan anchored the shuttle hurdles (8.2), ran the third leg in the 4x200 (26.7), and led off the 4x400 (62.7).
Jordan was one of several athletes who sparkled for UC, who competed without state champions Leena Morant and Sydney Tucker (nursing injuries).
Also for UC, junior A'Liyah Thomas anchored the 4x200 in 25.8 and cleared a meet best 5-2 in the high jump. Freshman Alexandra Bonn went 8.0 in the hurdles and cleared 4-10 in the HJ. Freshman Ajanae Thompson ran 8.1 in the hurdles and 27.1 in the 4x200. Felicia Quainoo ran 26.7 in the SMR and 7.6 in the shuttles. Senior Chi Chi Nkulume ran 24.9 in the 4x200 and 59.4 in the SMR. Zamira Ysaac and Aniyah Charles ran on the 4x400 and runner-up DMR, and Maameyaa Nyinah ran on the 4x800 and 4x400.
This meet produced several high octane performances. Here is a look at some more highlights.
- Bryanna Wilson, a junior at Donovan Catholic extended her lead in the state in the shot put with a huge PR of 44-4.5, which is US#6. Her teammate, sophomore Paige Dezendorf, unloaded a PR of 33-10 to give Donovan Catholic the victory in a NJ#1 78-2 1/2.
- Caroline Dannenbaum of Pingry, who is headed to Vanderbilt, cleared a NJ#2 12-6 and teammate Allie de Asla made 9-0 as they duo combined 21-6 to take down Non-Public A meet record of 20-6 set in 2012 by Montclair Kimberley.
- The Union Catholic boys cranked out a NJ#2 10:34.19 to win the DMR. George Mason-bound Elijah Brown, who won the 800 at the Meet of Champions last winter, blasted a 1:55.4 800 as he came from way back to give UC the lead for good. Soph. Myles Plummer closed it out with a 4:25.8 anchor. Zach Turner led off for UC in 3:21.2, and Tyhir Jones went 51.4.
- Red Bank Catholic burned a NJ# 3 12:26.60 to win the girls DMR. Maddy Kopec led off with a 4:00.0, Tess Darnell went 58.3, Gioanna Curci ran 2:24.4 for 800, and Julianne Kopec anchored in 5:01.8 as she pulled away for the win.
- St. Peter's Prep smashed its school record in the shuttle hurdles with its winning time of 31.16, which moves them up to NJ#8.
- Senior Conor Reilly made a meet best 15-0 to lead Union Catholic to victory in the pole vault. Justin Lopez made 11-0 for UC.