Jackson Braddock knew he had to run the 800 later in the meet, so he wasn't really concerned with time when he prepared to run the 3200 at Saturday's Group 4 Championships at Franklin High School in Somerset.
But the senior at Southern had Jackson Barna of Ridge all over him for the first four laps, which Braddock hit in 4:27.56, so Braddock knew he had to keep pounding in order to get the win, so he started to really pour it on over the final 1,600, and after he opened a gap, he started to race the clock.
With the crowd on its feet as Braddock made the turn for home, he threw it into an even bigger gear and came hammering across the line with one of the greatest performances in state history.
The Virginia-bound Braddock froze the numbers on the clock at 8:48.64!!!!!
That's No. 5 in state history, No. 9 in the country this season, the fastest time in State Group meet history (All Groups combined), and a Shore Conference record. Braddock took down the All Groups record of 8:56.91 set by the great Joe Rosa of West Windsor-Plainsboro South when he won the Group 3 3,200 in 2011. Barna, a junior, also went under Rosa's record with his second-place time of 8:56.49!
Braddock, whose previous PR was 8:54.02, which he ran to finish first at the Music City Distance Carnival last August at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, said it was perfect storm of having Barna pushing him, ideal conditions, and he was feeling good.
"I heard him right behind me and he wasn't breathing that hard, so I knew I had to keep pushing,'' said Braddock. "One thing that I guess kind of helped was that the clock wasn't working for the first two laps, and I didn't know the pace and then I heard 2:11. I was like, wow, that's fast. That's when I knew that the potential for a real fast time was definitely there.''
Now Braddock has his sights set on trying to break the 3,200 meet record at the Meet of Champions next Saturday, which is 8:46.08, set in 2010 by Jeramy Elkaim of Livingston. The state record of 8:44.06 that Joe Rosa set when he won the 2-mile at the 2010 New Balance National Championship, is also in the back of Braddock's mind.
"I'll be trying to run fastest at the Meet of Champions, and it would be great to get that record,'' said Braddock, who will be running the mile at the Brooks PR later this month. "That state record is a tough one. Everyone has respect for what Rosa ran, and everyone knows that will be a tough record for anyone to break, but it's out there and you have to try to go after it.''
NJ'S ALL-TIME 3200-METER OUTDOOR LIST, INCLUDING CONVERTED 2-MILE TIMES
8:41.02-Joe Rosa, West Windsor North, 2011 (converted from 8:44.06)
8:41.49-Craig Forys, Colts Neck, 2007 (converted from 8:44.53)
8:46.08-Jeramy Elkaim, Livingston, 2010
8:48.38-Jim Rosa, West Windsor North, 2011 (converted from 8:51.46)
8:48.64-Jackson Braddock, Southern Regional, 2021
8:48.91-Buck Logan, Bernards, 1979 (converted from 8:52.0-hand time)
8:50.27-Devin Hart, Point Pleasant Boro, 2019 (converted from 8:53.36)
8:50.64-Mohamed Khadraoui, Paterson Kennedy, 2004 (converted from 8:53.74)
8:50.90-Mike Keogh, Essex Catholic, 1970 (converted from 8:54.0-hand time).
8:52.02-Edward Cheserek, St. Benedict's Prep, 2013 (converted from 8:55.12)