NJ Athletes And Teams Shine At National Championships


New Jersey sure did show the rest of the country just how loaded it is by throwing down several red hot performances at the national championship meets this past weekend.

Oh, wait! Before I forget, I really miss having just one national championship meet. Show of hands from everyone who is with me! That's what I thought. More on that at another time.

Back to NJ's remarkable weekend at the New Balance Nationals at the Armory in New York, and the Nike Nationals at Ocean Breeze on Staten Island.   

By now you've probably heard and read all about the ridiculous relay double (DMR/4x800) by the Ridge boys, the victories by the Westfield boys SMR, and Seton Hall Prep 4x400, the insane double by Greg Foster of Lawrenceville in the horizontal jumps, the sub 10 by Angelina Perez, and the state record breaking 4x800 relay by the Union Catholic girls.

But there were several other sizzling times, monster throws, and tidbits that you may have missed. So here's a look at some other NJ highlights.

In an all NJ showdown, Georgia-bound Shamali Whittle of Hamilton North won his first national title by running 21.08 in the 200 at the NB Nationals at the NY Armory, which is just off his NJ No. 2 all-time 21.05. Fitzroy Ledgister of St. Peter's Prep was second with a PR of in 21.24, which places him third on the NJ all-time list. 

Ledgister, headed to Rutgers to play football and run track, also earned All-American in the 60 dash by placing fourth in 6.75, No. 3 in state history. His en route time through 55 meters was 6.30, which ties him for No. 3 in state history!!!  

History was made in the boys mile at the NB meet. 

Before this season there had been only four runners in state history to go sub 4:10 in the mile indoors. On Sunday, four guys for NJ broke in the same race!!! How awesome is that!!!

Villanova-bound Marco Langon of Bridgewater-Raritan was fifth in 4:04.60, No. 2 in NJ history, Georgetown-bound Jackson Barna was eighth in 4:06.93, No. 4 in state hisory, Harvard-bound Shane Brosnan of Union Catholic was ninth in 4:07.22, No. 5 in sate history, and junior Collin Boler of Delbarton finished 15th in 4:09.86, No. 8 in state history.  

Another note on Langon. His season will go down as one of the greatest in state history. Not only did he finish his career No. 2 all-time in the mile, but his 8:48.28 to win the 3,200 at the Meet of Champions is also No. 2 in state indoor history! Only the legendary Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict's Prep has run faster indoors than Langon in the mile and two-mile.     

How about what the Cherokee did. Check this out!!!

The Cherokee girls went back and forth between the two meets and picked up three All-American finishes in the distance relays.

On Friday, Madison Van Haren, Alison Cooke, Kelsey Niglio and Nikki Clifford placed second in the sprint medley at the NB meet in 4:04.27. On Saturday,  Megan Niglio, Cooke, Kelsey Niglio and Clifford combined to place second in the DMR at the Nike meet at Ocean Breeze in 11:57.91, No. 19 in state history. Cherokee capped off its amazing triple on Sunday when they returned to the NB meet and finished fourth in the 4x800 in 9:07.27. Cherokee's 4x800 consisted of Kelsey Niglio (2:12.85), Kerry O'Day (2:21.47), Megan Niglio (2:20.26), and Clifford (2:12.70).

Julia Jackson  of Scotch Plains-Fanwood narrowly missed winning the girls 400 at the NB meet, running 54.14 to place second. She ran 53.73 in the trials, which is the fastest time in the nation this season and No. 4 in state history. The Duke-bound Jackson also anchored SPF with a 54.23 split to bring the Raiders across third in the 4x400 in 3:50.89, No. 4 in state history. The first three legs for SPF were run by Grace Kennedy NJ (56.46), Danielle Most (1:02.63), and Jenai Berry (57.57). 

Rutgers-bound Chris Serrao of East Brunswick, who finished the season as the fastest hurdler in the country at 7.29, placed fifth in the 60m hurdles at New Balance in 7.85.   

Junior Alexander Sadikov of Ocean Township ran 47.85 to place second in the 400 at Nike. That's the top time in NJ this season and No. 6 in the nation. 

Joe Licata of Gill St. Bernard' and Casey Sullivan of Demarest each extended their state lead in the shot put and climbed up NJ's all-time list.

The Princeton-bound Licata unloaded a monster PR of 64-9.75 to place third in the boys shot and move into No. 9 in state indoor history. Licata's previous best was 63-8. 

Sullivan, who is headed to Wake Forest,  finished fifth in the girls shot with a 45-3.50, just two inches off her outdoor PR. 

There were three state class records that went down, all at the NB meet.

Christina Allen of River Dell finished 12th in the girls mile in 4:50.48, which broke the state sophomore record of 4:51.60 set by Camryn Wennersten at the 2020 Millrose Games. 

Taylor Cox of Union Catholic took down a freshman state record that was held by the legendary Sydney McLaughlin!!!! Cox ran 8.61 to win the 60 hurdles in the Rising Stars Division, which broke the freshman mark of 8.62 that McLaughlin set in 2014. Cox's en route time through 55 was 8.02 is the second fastest time in the state this season, and ties McLaughlin's state freshman record.   

Another state freshman mark fell when Union Catholic's Noah Cooper soared 21-8.25 to place third Rising Stars long jump competition. Cooper, who finished the season ranked No. 2 in the nation among freshmen, broke his own record of 21-8

Did you hear about what Mary Malague and her Metuchen teammates did!!!

Fresh off the basketball court where she had another great season, Malague, the CJ Group 2 and GMC XC champ last fall, hopped in to leadoff the DMR at the Nike Nationals. In the first indoor race of her life, Malague split 3:36.72 for the 1,200 leg to help Metuchen place third in 12:02.82. Metuchen also received a 62.54 400 from Nelagh Matthews, a 2:25.32 800 from Sara Lignell, and Caroline Schleif finished it off with a big anchor carry of 4:58.24!

After another six weeks of training, imagine how fast Malague, Matthews, Lignell, and Schleif will run in the DMR at the Penn Relays. It wouldn't be surprising to see Metuchen get under 11:50!!