Olympic Conference Sees Brown, Clifford, James, & More Star

Yashahya Brown clocked 14.08 (1.6) in the 110m hurdles to move to NJ No. 1 this season.

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Fast times and big marks from the Olympic Conference Championships gave spectators a preview of who would be looking to take medals home this postseason.

Seneca's Talia Lemyre made a statement in the girl's throwing events, winning the girl's discus (119-0) and shot put (35-5). Both Lemyre's performances landed her within the top 50 spots in New Jersey (#17 in discus and #42 in shot put). Eastern's Zoe Goldberg emerged victorious in the girl's javelin with a mark of 121-2 on her very first throw. Goldberg nearly won the event by 18 feet, and remains the third best javelin thrower in the state.

In the boy's section for throws, Holden Wolfert of Cherokee threw for a mark of 150-0. While Wolfert's clutch last throw was enough to earn him the victory, he also remains top 10 in Group 4 for javelin marks. Winslow Township's Ellis Oliver was also crowned the winner on his final mark of 47-11.5 in the boy's shot put. While Washington Township's Alex Diaz was right behind Oliver with a mark of 47-2, Diaz was able to take the win in the boy's discus with a throw measuring 138-10.

Seneca's girls continued to score in the field when Mia Hill won the long jump. Hill's mark (17-5.75) helped her leap into New Jersey's list of top 25 long jumpers this season. In the girl's high jump, Marissa Mckenzie, from Cherry Hill West, made her way into the top 25 NJ high jumpers list. McKenzie and Shawnee's Dianna DeMarco went 1-2 in the event, both jumping 5-0 or higher. Gabby Vetere secured 1st place for Washington Township in the girl's pole vault. Vetere remains the 5th top pole vaulter in New Jersey and the 3rd best in Group 4.

On the boy's side, Eastern's Aaron (Aj) Brooks only needed one jump to win the boy's long jump, with his first mark of 20-10.75. Brooks would also place 2nd in the triple jump while his teammate, Jashad Kersey won the event (43-6). Both Brooks and Kersey's marks helped them crack the list of top 50 triple jumpers in the state this season. Dillon Page of Cherry Hill East won the high jump with a mark of 6-0. Cherry Hill East continued their success within the field, as pole vaulter Noah Kriesman cleared 14-0 for the fourth time this season. Kriesman has yet to be defeated in the event this year, and will look to carry his momentum into the postseason.

Winslow Township's senior superstar, Jaia James was the center of attention in the girl's sprinting events. James would make her mark winning the 100m finals with a time of 12.02: the top time in New Jersey. The Winslow Township standout went on to place 1st in the 200m dash (25.89) and 2nd in the 100mH (15.22). During the prelims of the 100m dash, the NJ #1 time was set by Washington Township's Dylan Giloley. When asked about her competition going into finals, James said she was more concentrated on herself and where she could improve her own time: "I was just really focusing on my start, because I know that's where my problems have been coming... I was focusing on my lane and what's going on in my race: I wasn't about anyone who was next to me." James would also go on to say she is looking to compete in all three of the same events during this year's postseason.

In addition to Jaia James's noteworthy performance, Washington Township senior Jo'Nathan Silver was in a rush to cross the finish line, as he also won the 100m and 200m dash. Silver went into the 100m finals as the fourth fastest seed time, but he did not let his seed time define how fast he truly is: "I feel like I haven't really ran my best yet honestly until today, so I knew the seeding might not have been true." Silver's 12-hundredth PR put him in New Jersey's top 25 100m times this season. Silver's teammate Yashahya Brown stole the show in the 110mH, as the sophomore sensation cruised to a new NJ #1 time of 14.08. Aaron (Aj) Brooks was not far behind him with a new NJ #2 time of 14.27 on the season, along with Brown's teammate Kanye Mills. Brown said he truly thought Brooks would take the win, but Brown's mentality would not let him be beaten. "Last night and tonight going into it, I really thought I was going to get 2nd place chasing after Aj [Brooks] because Aj and Kanye [Mills] have been two really good people I've always had to run against. And coming from last year, AJ would always beat me: same with Kanye... coming into this year, I really was surprised I beat AJ... the only thing I got to my head was 'I got to be number 1: I've been working too hard.'" Safe to say that Washington Township's sprinters are ones to watch going into the postseason.

In the girl's distance events, the freshman 1600m runners dualed their way to the finish, as Cherokee's Megan Niglio (1st) and Cherry Hill East's Kiley Walsh (2nd) were only separated by less than three seconds. The Olympic Conference sophomores would step up for their respective teams in the girl's 3200m, where Paul VI's Shaelan McNally would win with a time of 11:10.80 and Cherokee's Kerry O'Day would follow with her 11:15.26. Both girls would set new personal records and crack the top 50 in the state (McNally ranked 22nd; O'day ranked 32nd). Cherokee's Nicole Clifford was the star of the 800m, setting a new personal best and cementing herself into Olympic Conference history, as she set a new meet record with a time of 2:11.52. The previous record lasted 40 years, when Washington Township's Michelle Rowan won with a time of 2:12.20 in 1982. Clifford's new personal best makes her the 4th fastest 800m runner in the state.

On the boys side of distance events, Camden Catholic's Billy Clewell led the entire race with a significantly large gap, finishing in a 4:21. The 800m race was as close as it gets: Cherokee's Robert Poplau would win in a 1:57.96 while Lenape Regional's Justin Penny was just 1 hundredth behind Poplau. Penny was followed by two Cherokee runners, as Connor Jacob and Nick Kuenkel placed 3rd and 4th (1:58.32 and 1:58.72). Cherokee would follow up with a victory in the 3200m when Bradley Popler ran a 9:48.43.

The Olympic Conference Championships contained some of the biggest high schools in the South Jersey area, and these big schools sure delivered. From Yashahya Brown and Aj Brooks running NJ #1 and #2 in the same race to Nicole Clifford's record breaking 800m, spectators are anticipating many of these runners to greatly impact the upcoming postseason meets.