Casey Sullivan and Katie Hamilton smashed records, Sincere Robinson put himself halfway toward joining an exclusive club, and Nick Medeiros left it all on the track during the opening day of the NJSIAA Groups 2-4 Championships on Friday at Franklin High School.
The second and final day of competition is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Girls Group 4 shot, boys Group 4 discus, and girls Group 4 pole vault were all moved from Friday to Saturday because of the rainy weather.
Sullivan, a junior at Demarest, continued her remarkable rookie season in the circle when she unloaded a huge personal best and NJ#1 of 45-5.50 on her first throw to smash the meet record in girls Group 2 shot put. The former record of 45-3.50 was set in 1989 by Karen Harris of Hillside.
"I only started throwing five and half months ago, so I don't really know a whole lot about records and things like that, I just got out there and try to improve every time I throw,'' said Sullivan, who also had a 45-4 on her second throw before the rain came. "But it does mean a lot to me to break this record. It shows how much the hard work pays off. I think the biggest difference for me was mental. I had some really good practices this week, and I just knew that if I stayed focused and concentrated on executing my throws that I could throw well today.''
The Duke-bound Hamilton had a huge day for Westfield.
Hamilton, who won the 1,600 at the 2020 Indoor Meet of Champions, won a great dual with Alexandra Carlson of North Hunterdon, 4:51.47 to 4:51.75, to capture the girls Group 4 1,600 and take down the Union County record! Hamilton, who broke the Union County record of 4:52.2 set in 1982 by Theresa Gschwind of Summit, is the first girl from Westfield to ever win an outdoor state Group championship.
Hamilton and Carlson, who also ran big PR's, were side-by-side over the final 50 meters before Hamilton found one final gear just before the finish line to pull out the victory.
That's not all.
Hamilton came back later to split 2:14.1 as the anchor on the winning 4x800 that ran a NJ#3 9:25.82. Westfield's first three runners were Isabel Boufarah (2:21.5), Caroline Collins (2:24.4), and Sonia Olson (2:25.7).
On the boys side, Robinson, the first-year wonder from Newark Tech, picked up wins in the Group 2 high jump (6-2) and the triple jump (a big PR of 47-10.50) to put himself in great position to become just the sixth boy in state history to win four individual events at a single Group Championship. Robinson, a senior, is favored to win the 110 hurdles and the long jump on Saturday.
The Georgetown-bound Medeiros, a senior at Old Bridge, knew it was probably going to take the best lap of his life to win the Group 4 400, and that's exactly what he delivered.
In a true blood and guts race (see the video of the finish at the top of this article), Medeiros ran a personal best of 48.33 and crashed to the track as he crossed the line just ahead of state leader Jessie Legister of Montclair, second in 48.67. Legister ran a NJ#1 47.93 to win the North Jersey, Group 4 400 last week.
Medeiros will be back to run the 800 and 4x400 on Saturday. He's favored to win the 800 at the Meet of Champions on June 19.
One of the most impressive performances of the meet belonged to the Haddonfield duo of Sarah Naticchia and Allison Colflesh, who dropped big PR's with by negative splitting the girls Group 2 1,600 on the way to a 1-2 finish. Naticchia finished first in 4:54.25 and Colflesh was second in 4:54.76. Natichia split 2:23.82 and Colflesh 2:24.10 for the final 800!!!
Josh Forrest of Collingswood came up with biggest comeback victory of the meet, dropping a 2:05.65 final 800 and 61.64 last 400 to reel in Adam Angelone of Madison on the way to winning the boys group 2 16,00 in 4:15.61, a three second PR. Forrest was trailing Angelone by about 20 meters with 800 to go.
In a race that saw four underclassmen go under 4:14, and seven guys under 4:20, junior Kyle Rakitis of Kingsway (read our Feature Friday profile on him here) used a 1:59.84 final 800 and a 56.71 closing 400 to win the boys Group 4 1,600 in 4:12.63, edging junior Marco Langon of Bridgewater-Raritan (4:13.12.). Langon closed in 56.60. Jackson Barna, a junior at Ridge, was third in 4:13.41, and Clifton junior Jacob Heredia was fourth in a school record 4:14.34.
Egg Harbor swept the boys and girls 100 dashes as Lauren Princz, a two-time M of C sprint champ (the 200 outdoors in 2018 and the 55 in 2020), ran 11.92 to win the girls race, and Ahmad Brock went 10.92 to capture the boys 100. It's Princz's second straight Group 4 title. She will defend her 200 crown on Saturday.
Ridge, the state leader in the 4x800 at 7:49.25, won the boys 4x800 in 7:54.52. Ridge is so deep that it won without having to use two of its hammers, Luke Roberts and Jackson Barna. Roberts won the 400 IM with a big PR and NJ#2 53.88, and he was fourth in the 400 earlier in the meet, and Barna was third in the 1,600.
Ridge's splits were 1:58.5 for Andrew McCabe, 2:00.9 for Hudson Yu, 1:55.8 for Will Pinto, and 1:59.1 for James Kisker.