The final state relay meet of the season produced the most fireworks of them all as multiple NJ#1 times, a facility record, and several red hot performances were thrown down at the NJSIAA Group 3 Relays on Tuesday night at the Bennett Center in Toms River.
In meet filled with head-spinning times, Nottingham senior Louis Akpadago, sophomore Shamali Whittle, senior Judeson Mirac, and senior Dana Ridley provided the most smoke by burning a ridiculous 1:29.48 in the 4x200m relay to crush the meet record (All Groups combined) and the facility record!!! The 1:29.48 is NJ#1 and US#7 this season. Keep in mind that this was done on a flat track with literally no spikes (only 1/8 inch pyramid spikes are permitted), which it was makes this performance so mind-boggling.
Before Nottingham's 1:29.48, no team had ever broken 1:31.00 at the Bennett Center and no team ever ran under 1:30.00 in the 55 year history of the meet!!! The former Bennett Center record of 1:31.33 was set by Elizabeth last year, and the meet record of 1:30.0 had stood since Plainfield ran that time way back at the 1979 Group 4 meet at Jadwin Gym in Princeton. The state 4x200 record of 1:26.90 set by Camden at the 2004 Eastern States Championships is certainly within reach when these guys get on the lightning fast NY Armory track!!!
And how about the DMR's!!!!
The Allentown boys, with Villanova-bound All-American Liam Murphy opening his season with a smooth 4:15.0 anchor carry, took over the NJ#1 spot in the DMR with a winning time of 10:25.78, which is US#4!!! Nate Somers led off for Allentown with a 3:19 1,200 leg. Jake Bragger followed with a 52.0 quarter carry, and Mike Heinz cranked out a 1:58 before handing to Murphy.
And in a very dramatic girls DMR that nearly produced another NJ#1 time, Colts Neck edged Monmouth County rival Middletown South, 12:25.52 to 12:26.46. Colts Neck is now NJ#2/US#11 in the DMR, and Middletown South is NJ#3/US#12. Westfield holds onto the NJ#1 spot for now with the 12:25.35 it ran to win the Group 4 race on Sunday.
Colts Neck splits-3:48.1 for Natalie Shapiro, 64.4 for Kelsey Nager, 2:26.8 for Arianna Sakoutis, and 5:06.1 for Lilly Shapiro. Shapiro got the baton a couple steps in front of Middletown South anchor Lucy Afanasewicz and was able to maintain that slight edge the whole way. Reese Fahys led off for Middletown South with a 3:47.6 for 1,200. Gwen Afanasewicz followed with 64.7 400, Lexi Dean then went 2:27.0, and Lucy Afanasewicz anchored in 5:05.8.
The Shapiro siblings, and Sakoutis also ran with Ava Wilmot on the winning 4x800 (9:38.74). It's the third straight year that CN has won the girls 4x800!
Another NJ#1 almost went down in the boys shuttle hurdles when Winslow's Brandon Greene, Isaiah Lewis, Terry McNeill and Eric Seabury ripped a NJ#2 and US#2 30.18, just off the US#1 that Irvington ran at the Essex County Relays on Jan.12
I told you this meet was off the hook!!!
And all this happened without any teams from Morris County and Bergen County competing!!! After this meet was moved from Saturday, the Morris County and Bergen County teams elected to gear up for their county championships on Wednesday (Jan. 22). Imagine if Mendham, with All-American hammer Jack Jennings anchoring, ran the DMR vs. Allentown?? How much faster would the race have been?? Close to 10:20?? Probably!!
In the team competition, Winslow the girls made it three in a row, and the West Windsor-Plainsboro North boys, despite some mishaps, won its second title ever and first in 11 years.
WW North was able to overcome a DQ in the 4x200 (it would have finished fourth) and a dropped baton in the SMR (it finished seventh, .02 out of sixth-place).
Normally teams can't win a meet like this when it loses costly points like that, but coach Brian Gould's squad at WW North is so deep and balanced that the Knights still emerged with a 43-32 victory over Winslow!!
WW North was led in the field by Malwandla Baloyi and Mikey Redavid, who helped the Knights pick up two huge wins in the pole vault and high jump. The Knights also placed second in the DMR (NJ#3/US#15 10:33.79), second in the 4x800 (8:21.71), third in the 4x400 (3:33.44), and sixth in the shuttle hurdles (34.28).
In the PV, Redavid went 11-0 and Baloyi cleared 10-6, the two best clearances of the meet, to give WW North the win. Redavid also ran 23 and change in both the 4x200 and SMR, and spilt 54.9 in the 4x400. Baloyi also made 5-10 and teamed with Donovan Butler, who made 5-6, to capture the high jump title.
On the track, WW North had several athletes come up big.
UPenn-bound Luke Johnson split 4:23 in the DMR, 1:59 in the SMR, and 52.1 in the 4x400 for WW North. Ahmed Elmogi went 52 and change for 400 on the DMR, SMR, and 4x400. Yesh Srivastava ran 1:58 in the DMR, 2:03 in the 4x800, and 52.9 in the 4x400, and Nikhil Makker ran a 3:18 leadoff leg in the DMR, and went 2:05 in the 4x800.
In the girls team competition, Winslow crushed the sprints as usual on the way to its third straight title and fifth overall, 38-28 over Allentown. Winslow, which also won state Group 3 relay titles in 2011 and '13, is now tied for No. 7 in state history with its five relay state championships.
Winslow won both the 4x200 (1:44.49) and 4x400 (4:03.03), won the shuttle hurdles in 32.36, and placed third in the SMR (4:25.24).
OTHER IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCES AND HIGHLIGHTS
- Allentown won the girls SMR in a 4:21.29 as Jess Lyons (400), Daniella Johnson (200), Brenna McCormick (200), and Andie Murray (800) shared the baton. McCormick also cleared a meet best 10--0 and Kira Ventrella made 8-0 to give Allentown the victory in the pole vault.
- The Middletown North boys won the 4x800 as Anthony Sclafani (2:05), Kevin Carragher (2:01) Chris Gambardella (2:05) and Isa Yilmaz (2:05) combined to run 8:17.99.
- John Purvis of Winslow, who came into the meet with a NJ#1/US#7 throw of 60-0 in the shot put, had the top throw of the meet (57-3)
- Tierra Hooker of Timber Creek, who won the HJ at the Meet of Champions last winter and spring, cleared a meet best 5-4.
- Middletown North placed second and tied the school record with a combined 9-8. Katelyn Reid made 5-0, and Hailey Guerrieri 4-10.
- Hamilton East won the boys SMR in 3:40.42.