Olympics: Pearson Earns First NJ Medal, Mattis Gets 8th

It hasn't taken long for New Jersey athletes to make a big splash at the Tokyo Olympics.

The biggest news so far is that Morgan Pearson, who graduated from Delbarton in 2011, has picked up the first medal by a NJ athlete by anchoring Team USA to a silver medal on Friday night in the first ever mixed triathlon. 

Pearson, 42nd in the men's triathlon earlier this week, redeemed himself in a huge way when he came from behind to pass France on the final run leg and brought his team across the line in 1:23:55. Great Britain won the gold by finishing in 1:23:41, and France got the bronze.

Pearson, who won the the 3,200-meter run at the NJ Meet of Champions as a senior at Delbarton and went on to earn All-American status as a runner at the University of Colorado, teamed up with Katie Zafares, the bronze medalist in the women's triathlon a few das ago, Kevin McDowell, and Taylor Knibb. The relay consisted of a 300-meter swim, 6.8 kilometer draft legal bike ride and a 2-kilometer run for each individual.

Sam Mattis, who set the still-standing NJ high school discus record during his days at East Brunswick High, finished his amazing run in the circle by placing a very strong eighth in the men's discus on Friday morning with a season-best 209-7. The finish by Mattis, a 2016 graduate of UPenn, is the best in the event by an American man since Casey Malone finished sixth in Athens in 2004.  

Mattis, the only American to make the discus final, is the first graduate from UPenn to compete for the U.S. at the Olympics since current Princeton University head coach Fred Samara competed in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.


The women's 800-meter featured mixed results for NJ stars Athing Mu and Ajee' Wilson.

In Friday's semifinals, Mu, the amazing 19-year-old from Trenton, won her heat in dominating fashion in 1:58.07 to advance to Tuesday's final at 8:25 a.m. But Neptune native Wilson, the American record holder in the event, failed to advance after placing fourth in her heat in 2:00.47.     

Mu's 1:58.07 was the fastest of the day, and she heads into the final with a great chance to become the first New Jersey woman to ever win an individual gold medal since. Mu, the Olympic Trials champ, is also seeking to become the first U.S. woman to win the 800 gold since Madeline Manning in 1968, and the first to medal in the event since Kim Gallagher won the silver in Seoul in 1988.


World record holder Sydney McLaughlin, who graduated from Union Catholic in 2017 and was a member of the 2016 Olympic Team, easily advanced to the semifinals of the 400 hurdles on Thursday night when she eased off the gas while winning her opening round heat in 54.65. McLaughlin, who set the world record of 51.90 when she finished first at the Olympic Trials in June, will run in the second semifinal heat at 7:45 a.m. on Monday. The final is 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday.


Mount Olive High legend Keturah Orji advanced to the final of the triple jump by placing sixth in the qualifying round with a leap of 46-9.5. Orji, the American record holder and Olympic Trials champion, will attempt to become the first U.S. woman to ever medal in the triple jump. The final is Sunday at 7:15 a.m. Orji narrowly missed medaling in 2016 when she placed fourth, just three centimeters from the bronze.


Curtis Thompson, English Gardner, and Rudy Winkler have yet to compete.

Florence High grad Thompson, the Olympic Trials winner in the men's javelin, will be in action in the qualifying round on Tuesday at either 8:05 p.m. or 9:35 p.m.

There is a good chance that Gardner, who ran on the gold medal winning women's 4x100 in Rio, will be on that squad again when the first round of the 4x100 is held on Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Winkler, the American record holder in the men's hammer, will throw in the qualifying round on Sunday at either 8 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Winkler, a New York native, competed at Rutgers University for one season.