Hey all you track and field nuts out there!!!
The past week of track and field performances across New Jersey was so straight up off the chain that we felt the only way to do many of them justice was to hit the rewind button so you can relive some of the awesome action.
There was a courageous comeback, historic performances, several meet records, red hot triples, and a bunch of NJ No. 1 performances during a wild week around the state as the individual championship season started to heat up.
So get into the blocks and get ready for some notes and quotes from around the state!
We know there are tons of other great things that happened, but for now here are some of the top things that stood out this past week.
Get ur NJ T&F Rewind on!
We have to start out with the courageous comeback by Old Tappan sophomore Abby Dennis!!!!
If you haven't heard about this or seen the viral video yet (it's at the top of this story), then you must be living under a shot put circle somewhere because it absolutely blew up on social media and Dennis was featured all over the news this weekend.
Dennis, one of the state's best hurdlers, crashed to the track after smashing into the second hurdle in the trials of the 100m hurdles at the Bergen County Championships on her home track. But instead of laying on the track licking her wounds, Dennis sprung back up and erased a nearly 10 meter deficit to win her heat in 16.85.
Dennis, who just started high hurdling this season, carried that momentum into the final where she burned a NJ No. 2 time of 14.28 to win the race!
Dennis also won the 100 in 12.48 and the 200 in 25.43 to help lead Old Tappan to the B Division team championship.
The refusal to quit and the display of sheer determination by Dennis caused the video of her race to reach more than one million views!!! It gained so much attention that Dennis was interviewed by ABC news!!!
Abby Dennis epitomizes what track and field is all about and represents what makes this sport so great!!! Well done, Abby!!!
Ditmars, in fourth place with 100 to go, finished off a 50.3 split and timed his finishing kick just right as he split the anchors from Rancocas Valley and Willingboro about 10 meters from the line to win the race. There is nothing better than a great 4x400 to finish off a meet. I say this all the time- the smartest person is the world is the person who decided to make the 4x400 the last event of the meet!
Peyton Hollis of Union Catholic made history last week, and it flew under everyone's radar. Well, maybe not everyone's. I am sure Pope John coach Brian Corcoran knew it right away because nothing gets by that guy!
When Hollis won the 400 in 55.81 last Thursday and followed up by winning the 3,200 (her first race ever at that distance) in driving rain in 10:54.98 on Friday at the Union County Conference Championships, the sophomore star became the first girl in NJ history to ever run under 56 in the open 400m, and under 11:00 in the 3,200m!! We did lots of research and couldn't find anyone else who ever pulled off that double that fast!!!! How awesome is that!
"Since it was my first 3,200 I really didn't know what to expect, but I was hoping to get close to 11 minutes or under,'' said Hollis. "It's definitely a cool feeling to do something like that, especially the after going under 56, which was a big PR for me. To know that my range was that wide was a really good feeling.
Look out for Hollis this Friday when she runs the mile at the Track Night NYC meet at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island in N.Y. She split 4:47.18 on the DMR this past indoor season and is targeting a time as close to 4:40 as possible.
WHITTLE ADDS TO LEGENDARY CAREER
It's time to start thinking about exactly where Shamali Whittle's place will be in state history among the all-time greats when his high school career comes to a close next month. I can tell you this much, it's somewhere near the very top.
The Georgia-bound Whittle strengthened his already strong case as one of NJ's best ever when he ran 47.82 at the Mercer Coaches Classic. That made the stud from Hamilton North the first athlete in state history to run under 48 in the 400m, under 21 in the 200m, under 11.00 in the 100m, and under 14.00 in the 110m hurdles!
Last spring, Whittle ran a PR of 10.48 in the trials before winning the 100m in 10.55 at the Meet of Champions, and went a PR of 13.86 at the East Coast Championships. He lowered is PR in the 200 down to 20.55 at the CVC Showdown last week. Since there was no wind gauge, the 20.55 is listed as No. 2 all-time on the NJ all conditions list behind the wind- aided 20.51 (+2.8) by Antonio Tarantino of Paul VI in 2018 during New Balance Nationals.
Whittle, who currently ranks US No. 2 this season among all-condition times, already owns the state record of 20.75 (+2.0) for a wind legal 200m dash, which he set during the 2021 Outdoor Nationals.
The 20.75 broke the previous state record of 20.93 (0.5) by .18 of a second! It was held by Danny Johnson of Rahway, who ran that time to finish first at the 2001 NJSIAA Meet of Champions.
Whittle won the 200 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March, and owns three Meet of Champions titles. He will be favored to repeat as M of C winner in the 100 and 200 next month, and could make a run at the state record in the 100 (10.30), and should break his 200 state record of 20.75.
Let's please make sure that there are working wind gauges at the sectionals, groups and Meet of Champs so if Whittle runs a time under the state record it isn't listed as NWI. That happened with Mario Heslop of Franklin a few years ago, and his times are listed on the all conditions list rather than the wind legal or wind-aided lists. We'd all hate to see Whittle not get proper credit for a state record breaking performance because there wasn't a wind gauge present.
Everywhere you look around the state you see Rutgers commits blowing up the track or doing something big in the field.
McQueen, the indoor Meet of Champions winner in the 200, won the 100m in a NJ No. 5 10.76, the 200m in 21.98, and the 400m in a NJ No. 2 48.02 at the Union County Conference Championships.
Meanwhile, Serrao, a two-time M of C winner in the high hurdles, lowered his own NJ No. 1 time in the 400 hurdles down to 53.03 at the GMC Red and White Division Championships.
It's impossible not to get excited about the talent that Rutgers is bringing in from its own backyard. Can't wait to see how it all comes together for the Scarlet Knights over the next few years,.
RED HOT ROOKIE
This is for all the football and basketball players and other athletes out there that only compete in one sport. Give track and a field try!!!!
There are so many talented athletes out there who have the skills to be big time stars in track and field and earn scholarships etc., but they never give it a try. Why not??
Just look at what Union Catholic senior Cameron Campbell has done in his first season of track and field this spring!
Campbell, a starter on the basketball team, has already gone a NJ No. 4 45-6.25 in the triple jump, a NJ No. 7 22-6.25 in the long jump, 6-2 in the high jump, and 11.09 in the 100. There are many more Cameron Campbell's out there. So stop focusing on just one sport and lace up the spikes and discover a whole new sport, which can open lots of new doors.
FLAIR IN THE AIR
The combined total of 396-10 by Schmitt, Romero, and Viellette has to be the highest combined total in state history history by three girls on one team in the same meet. We've done lots of research on this, and have yet to come up with a trio from one team who have topped 396-10 in the same meet!!! It's probably also the biggest total for three girls from ne team in the same season! Amazing!!!
Morris County has always been known as a hotbed for some of the best distance runners in state history, but it's time to start putting some respect on the sprinters in Morris County.
Thulin ran 10.68 in the 100m to break the Morris County record, and Babe burned a Morris County record 21.40 to edge Thulin (20.49) in the 200m.
How low will they go when they square again at the Morris County Championships this Tuesday and Wednesday at Boonton.
BIG TIME SMALL SCHOOLS
We all know that that bigger the school is, the better the chances are of finding more talent than the smaller schools. simply because of how much deeper the talent pool is. But I've always believed that great coaching closes that gap and gives small schools a chance to compete with the bigger schools.
Just look at Haddonfield and Metuchen for example. Those Group 2 squads produce stud teams and great talent every year. The common denominator is the great coaches (Marty and Kelli Holleran at Metuchen/ Nick Baker and Jason Russo at Haddonfield). Great coaches will be successful wherever they coach.
This is a good place to give a shoutout to Seth Clevenger of Haddonfield, who won the 3200 at the Camden County Championships in a NJ No. 2 9:03.65, and Molly Malague of Metuchen, who ran a NJ #1 4:49.98 to finish first in the 1600m at the Ridge Twilight Meet
To all the small schools that feel they can't compete with the big bad Group 4 schools, that's not always true. Is it tough? Of course it is, but it can be done.