We continue with our 'Top Moments' series recording some of the great history our sport has seen from New Jersey, and one outside of NJ, over the years from different perspectives. This edition venturing away from the usual coach's picks and hearing what some of the sport's media contributors have chosen. We have an exciting mix of coaches and other contributors lined up for future postings as well.
Pat Montferrat has been a long time fan of and contributor to the sport in New Jersey. In his own words, "I went to my first meet in spring of 1962 and immediately fell in love." His first experience officially covering the sport came in 2003 when he was a webmaster for Ocean City cross country.
He's captured pictures of some of the biggest New Jersey races in recent history, has helped run multiple outlets over the years, and even maintained the New Jersey site before showing me the ropes when I joined the MileSplit network in 2012. He is a big part of my own journey into the role I have now, as he reached out to me about the position when I was just a young college graduate running a small Shore Conference XCTF blog. Pat is now working with the newly formed New Jersey XCTF Coaches Association as their organization gets off the ground.
Below you can read through some of Pat's writing as he covers his top moments that he's seen in person in New Jersey track and field history.
Pat Montferrat's Top Moments
*2013 Penn Relays -- Columbia HS Girls 4x800m COA
The race seemed like another Jamaican romp through the first 3 legs with the Edwin Allen team holding a healthy lead. Olivia Baker got the stick around 5 seconds off of the lead and went to work. Going through the first 400m controlled and workman like, Olivia started moving in the third segment and put Edwin Allen in her cross hairs. Running the final 200m in 29.xx, Baker sealed the win for Columbia (8:56.86).
I was down on the track as a photographer for MileSplit and ran over to Coach Lisa Morgan on the infield after Olivia Baker crossed the line. If you remember the iconic clip of NC State's win at the NCAA Basketball Tourney and Jim Valvano's reaction at the end of the game, Lisa's was similar. Lisa was running around the infield, looking for someone, anyone to hug. She was so excited and thrilled.
*1976 NCAA Outdoor Championships -- Dwight Stones 7' 7" WR
While this wasn't New Jersey track and field it is still a great moment. The 1976 NCAA Outdoor Championships were held at Franklin Field and I went down to Philly with some friends pretty much on a lark. It was the first big time college meet I attended and the list of names & performances is/was impressive. As the meet progressed through the day the crowd's attention became focused on the High Jump apron. Dwight Stones of UCLA was the center of attention and both he and the crowd loved it. Franklin Field exploded when Stones cleared the then World Record height of 7'7" (2.31m)
*2003 Penn Relays - John Richardson Wins HS Boys Mile
Ocean City's John Richardson was a team mate of my nephew so I became a fan early in John's career. Richardson had gone through difficult 2002 XC season and missed the Indoor campaign with a sinus condition that required surgery to repair.
He traveled to the Colonial Relays in Williamsburg Va. to get a qualifier. He won the HS Mile in 4:18.11 and secured an invite to Penn. Richardson bided his time as the field went through unspectacular splits and then he made his move at the Bell. I was sitting at the beginning of the final turn as Richardson caught up to Matt DeBole of North Carolina, moved past him and sprinted, arms raised, through the tape in 4:11.80. John continued his successful senior year with the first 800m / 1600m double in MOCs history. I was there for that as well.
*2014 NJSIAA Outdoor MOCs -- Sydney McLaughlin wins 400m Hurdles
She was a freshman whose budding reputation preceded her. Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic had set the National Freshman record in the 400m Hurdles at the Group Champs the previous week and was primed for her first Outdoor MOCs, she did not disappoint.
The 400 Hurdles is typically the first event on the schedule and Sydney was ready for the challenge. Going out strong, making up the stagger quickly, and leaving the field had the crowd gasping as she churned home in a meet record 56.91. The performance set the tone for a great MOCs that evening.
McLaughlin's 400H performance wasn't her only highlight that day, she also won the 100m Hurdles (13.47) and split 52.4 on the runner up 4x4 to end the meet. I had the chance to interview Sydney after the 100 Hurdles and came away so impressed at the maturity and poise that she showed as we spoke.
We all know how "Syd the Kid" has become a huge presence on the world T&F stage, but if you saw or heard her at the 2014 MOCs you you knew she was destined for BIG things.
*2008 Indoor MOC -- Leung v Smith 3200m
A Steel Cage Death Match is the only way to describe it. WWP South senior Brian Leung, winner of the 2007 XC MOCs vs Gill-St. Bernards junior Doug Smith. It was the most talked about race in the pre-meet chatter and lived up to the hype and then some.
The race went out with the hope of a sub 9 minute result on everyone's mind. The crowd was revved as the two racers stalked each other through a 4:37 1600m split. The lead changes were insane as both runners stepped it up knowing that sub-9 might be slipping out of reach. The Toms River "Bubble" was the loudest it had ever been as spectators were cheering for both Leung & Smith were slugging it out, through their cheers, like prize fighters. At the finish it was Brian Leung winning in 8:59.77 with Doug Smith 2nd in 9:01.86. An instant classic, as both went down, spent and leaving it all on the track.