Watch above as Sincere Rhea and Naseem Smith go head to head at the 2019 SJ Open.
Last spring a big-time showdown between two of the best in the state at the 110m hurdles took place in early May. During the SJTCA Open Sincere Rhea of St. Augustine Prep and Naseem Smith of Deptford, both class of 2019, found themselves in a possible Meet of Champions preview during the 110H finals.
In prelims Rhea had just recorded, what was at the moment, a huge PR and NJ#9 all-time performance of 13.68 (NWI), you can watch Rhea's prelim run below. Smith had his own impressive run of 14.05 (NWI) leading the prelim heat just before Rhea's.
When the final heard the starting pistol Smith got out strong and held a lead through the first five hurdles. Then Rhea fought back the final third of the race and showed some great turnover after the final hurdle to seal the win in a time of 13.98 (NWI). Smith game through the line in second at 14.10 (NWI).
Third place was, then junior, Anthony Vazquez of Egg Harbor Twp clocked at 14.89 (NWI). This past winter as a senior he won the 55m hurdles at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions breaking out a PR time of 7.31.
Rhea went on to win a Meet of Champions title later that spring, but it wasn't in the 110m hurdles. The star senior, who is now at Penn State, led prelims at MOCs with a 13.78 and doubled back to win the 400m title running 47.89.
Just 23 minutes after his 400m win he was lined up again for the final of the 110H however his legs hadn't recovered enough, steps were off before the first hurdle and he didn't complete the race.
"I figured why not give a shot,'' said Rhea. "It was my last Meet of Champions and no one had ever won both before. I wanted to see if I could make history.''
A week later Rhea went on to achieve All-American status in the 110H during New Balance Nationals Outdoor finishing second with a 13.51 (0.5). A performance that moved him up to third all-time in state history for the event.
Watch Sincere Rhea rip a 13.68 to lead prelims at the 2019 SJ Open.