There was a lot of pressure on the Ocean Township 4x400 relay team when they lined up to run the meet-concluding race. The were trailing Cinnaminson, 30-22, and needed to win the relay to win its first state indoor title.
The foursome of senior Ethan DeFonseka, his brother, sophomore Jacob, and seniors Mark Viggiano and Alex Sadikov responded to the challenge by striking gold in the 4x400 in 3:28.88, just ahead of runner-up Deptford, second in 3:29.28. Sadikov, the Meet of Champions winner in the 400 last June, held off a strong challenge by Deptford's Lathan Brown to secure the win.
The triumph by the 4x400 gave Ocean Township a 32-30 victory over Cinnaminson.
Sadikov and Viggiano, Ocean Township's dynamic duo, scored all the other points for Ocean Township.
Sadikov was second in the 400 in 49.88 and was fourth in the 55 hurdles with a PR of 7.76. Viggiano remained undefeated in the 800, wining te four-lapper in 1:56.07.
Alexander Boyko, who is headed to UPenn, was the catalyst for Cinnaminson. The distance running star dropped an overall PR of 4:18.28 to win the 1,600, and came back to run a strong indoor PR of 9:28.30 to finish second in the 3,200.
Owen Horevay of Lakeland, whose has always dreamed of becoming a state champ, saw that become a reality when he dropped a monster PR of 9:19.14 to win the 3,200. Horevay, second at the State Group 2 XC Championships this past fall, said not doubling and being fresh was a big key to winning the biggest race of his life.
John Connors of Rumson continued his big senior season by clearing a personal best 6-6 to win the high jump. That's tied for the best jump in the state this season! It's been a remarkable and rapid rise for Connors, a football star who just started jumping last year. In that short time, he's a three-time sectional champ (long jump and high jump last spring and the HJ this season). Now he's a state champion! How awesome is that!!
Brown, a senior at Deptford, scored the biggest win of his career by capturing the 400 in 49.69, edging Sadikov (49.88).
Eric Foster of Willingboro, who has been plagued by a sore hip most of the season, felt like it was just a matter of time before he got healthy and dropped some hot times in the hurdles.
He was right.
Foster, a junior, has been feeling much better lately and it showed when he ripped a a huge PR of 7.47 to win the hurdles. That's the No. 3 time in NJ this season and No. 11 in the U.S. Foster's previous best was 7.68, which he ran to win the Central Jersey, Group 2 title.
Group 2 State Champions
- Team Ocean Township HS
- 55m Corey Thomas 12 Oakcrest HS 6.52
- 400m Lathan Brown 12 Deptford HS 49.69
- 800m Mark Viggiano 12 Ocean Township HS 1:56.07
- 1600m Alexander Boyko 12 Cinnaminson HS 4:18.28
- 3200m Owen Horevay 12 Lakeland Regional HS 9:19.14
- 55mH Eric Foster 11 Willingboro HS 7.46
- 4x400m Ocean Township HS 3:28.88
- High Jump John Connors 12 Rumson-Fair Haven HS 6-06
- Pole Vault Nathan Park 12 NV - Old Tappan HS 14-00
- Shot Put Jack Small 11 NV - Old Tappan HS 51-06.25
Christina Allen, who led River Dell to its second straight title, and Clemmie Lilley of Rumson produced multiple eye-popping performances to highlight the action in the girls Group 2 competition.
Allen, who has won two outdoor Meet of Champions titles (the 3200 in 2021 and the 800 as a sophomore last spring), won the 1,600 in 5:05.01, placed second to Lilley in the 800, and finished off her sensational triple when she used a huge closing kick to capture the 3200 in 11:09.58, which clinched a 44-39 victory for River Dell over Rumson in a hard-fought battle. It's the third state title for River Dell, who also won in 2016.
Allen, who won the 800 and 1,600 at this meet a year go, has now won five State Group individual titles (four indoors and one outdoors).
River Dell also received a clutch victory from junior Grace McQueeney in the high jump (5-0), and a third-place finish from senior Abreeana Rilveria in the hurdles (8.67).
Lilley, a sophomore, was her sizzling self as she lit up the track by winning three gold medals to fuel Rumson to its runner-up finish.
Lilley got the meet off to a fast start by blasting out to a quick lead and running away from the field on the way to a repeat victory in the 400 with a PR of 57.54, the second fastest time of all the Group Championship meets combined. Then in the 800, Lilley executed a great race plan to edge Allen in the 800, 2:18.53 to 2:19.93. Lilley, relying on her powerful kick, sat behind Allen for the first 600 before exploding to the front just before the bell and then pouring it on over the final 200 and holding off Allen to secure the win.
Lilley, who won the outdoor State Group 2 title in the 400 last spring and has now captured four state individual titles in her young career, put an exclamation point on her big day by splitting 58.1 as the anchor on Rumson's winning 4x400 that ran 4:02.28
In other highlights, junior Abigail Dennis of Old Tappan, who captured the state Group 3 110 hurdle title last spring, added an indoor state title to her resume by capturing the hurdles in 8.33, and she also ran a PR of 7.36 to finish fourth in the 55 dash.
Group 2 State Champions
- Team River Dell HS
- 55m Royanah Farmer 12 Oakcrest HS 7.26
- 400m Clemmie Lilley 10 Rumson-Fair Haven HS 57.54
- 800m Clemmie Lilley 10 Rumson-Fair Haven HS 2:18.53
- 1600m Christina Allen 11 River Dell HS 5:05.01
- 3200m Christina Allen 11 River Dell HS 11:09.58
- 55mH Abigail Dennis 11 NV - Old Tappan HS 8.33
- 4x400m Rumson-Fair Haven HS 4:02.28
- High Jump Grace McQueeney 11 River Dell HS 5-00
- Pole Vault Jamie Kim 10 NV - Old Tappan HS 10-06
- Shot Put Chanel Swain 10 Willingboro HS 38-11.50
Pennsauken, second last year, finally captured its first state indoor title when the 4x400 relay came through in the clutch like it always does to clinch the elusive crown.
Pennsauken, leading Chatham, 32-30 heading into the meet-concluding relay, locked up the team title when freshman KaRon Ali, junior Ladanian McGrath, and seniors Premier Wynn and Bryce Tucker rolled to a big victory in 3:24.47, the fastest time of all the Group Championship meets combined. The Indians finished with 42 points, and Chatham, third in the relay, was second with 36.
Pennsauken, who captured state outdoor titles in 2016 and 2021 and was second at this meet the past two years, received huge efforts from Wynn, Tucker, and junior Elijah Jennings.
In other highlights, Scotch Plains-Fanwood senior Nate Rayan, the US leader in the 55 hurdles at 7.30, won a thrilling clash with defending state champion Tucker in the hurdles, 7.53 to 7.56.
Chatham senior Ryan Beegle, who is headed to Boston College, ran a string strategic race to break away from Micah Lawson of Rahway to win the 1,600 in 4:14.72, just off his converted PR from his mile time of 4:15.15. Lawson, the Meet of Champions winner in cross-country, was second in 4:17.57.
Ocean City's Nick Scarangelli continued his big senior season when he sliced more than 10 seconds off his PR to win the 3,200 in 9:34.61.
Bergenfield senior Xavier Hayletts, who almost didn't compete because of he was feeling under the weather, won the 55 dash in 6.47. That's just off his PR of 6.46 that came last Wednesday when he won the Bergen County title at the NY Armory.
The Rutgers-bound Tucker, who has won the last two Meet of Champions titles in the 400 hurdles, won the 400 in 49.73, and placed second in the 55 hurdles. Wynn was second in the 400 in 49.82, and Jennings came through with a third place finish in the 55 dash with a PR of .56.
Group 3 Champions
- Team Pennsauken HS
- 55m Xavier Hayletts 12 Bergenfield HS 6.47
- 400m Bryce Tucker 12 Pennsauken HS 49.73
- 800m Luke Schagelin 11 Morris Knolls HS 1:57.09
- 1600m Ryan Beegle 12 Chatham HS 4:14.72
- 3200m Nick Scarangelli 12 Ocean City HS 9:34.61
- 55mH Nathaniel Rayan 12 Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS 7.53
- 4x400m Pennsauken HS 3:24.47
- High Jump Jayden White 11 North Plainfield HS 6-02
- Pole Vault John Robinson 12 Morris Knolls HS 13-06
- Shot Put Nicholas Frattina 12 Mount Olive HS 57-04
This meet featured another team title that wasn't decided until the final event, and another sparkling sprint show from freshman phenom Sianni Wynn of Pennsauken.
In the team competition. Timber Creek, which trailed Ocean City 26-23.5 heading into the relay, got the win it needed when Chloe Jones, Adiat Olaogun Dickson, Billie Frazier, and Naylah Jones combined for the victory in 4:03.18. Timber Creek owns the state-leading time in the 4x400 of 3:53.82, which it ran to finish first at the Millrose Games.
Timber Creek's 10 points for winning the relay gave it a first-place total of 33.5. Pennsauken, Middletown South, Ocean City tied for second with 26. It's the second state indoor championship for Timber Creek, which also won in 2017.
Timber Creek's other points came from junior Guerlande Pierre, second in the shot put with a PR of 36-6.75, and tied for fifth in the high jump (5-0), junior Naylah Jones was second in the 55 dash in 7.19, and junior Chloe Jones was third in the 400 in 58.21.
Wynn burned up the track by winning the 400 in 57.26 and the 55 dash in 7.09, just off her state-leading 7.06 that she has run twice this season. Wynn's times were both the fastest run in all the Group Championships meets combined.
Check out some of these other stats about Wynn that were reported by South Jersey track and field historian Reuben Frank.
Wynn's PR's of 7.06 and 56.98 make her the second fastest freshman in state history in the 55 dash and the 400. Only Olympic gold medalist English Gardner of Eastern, who ran 7.04 to finish first at the 2007 Eastern States Championships, and Samantha Anderson of Matawan, who ran 55.94 to place third at the 2014 Easterns, have run faster as freshmen than Wynn. Gardner won gold as a member of the 4x100 relay team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Wynn is also the fastest freshman in the 400 indoors in the state since double Olympic gold medalist and World 400 hurdles record holder Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic ran 56.15 to place third at the 2014 Meet of Champions!!
In other highlights, North Hunterdon senior Paige Boyce, who missed most of the outdoor season and a big chunk of this past XC season with an injury, used a strong kick to win the 1,600 in 5:04.50.
Mainland sophomore Sofia Day broke her own Atlantic County record when she won the 800 in 2:15.59, the fastest time in all the Group meets combined. Day broke the mark of 2:17.71 that she ran to win the South Jersey, Group 3 race.
One of the biggest surprise winners of the entire weekend was Wallkill Valley sophomore Delana Einreinhofer, who pulled off a shocking victory in the 3,200 in 10:53.78, a 20 second PR!!!! Her previous best was 11:13.52 when she finished first at the North Jersey, Section 1 meet.
Einreinhofer, who also ran a big PR of 5:04.70 to place second in the 1,600 earlier in the meet, finished just ahead of Delsea's Lillie Widmer came in second in 10:54.31, and Liliah Gordon of Northern Burlington was third in 10:59.21.
Nyjae Shipley became the first girl from Rahway to win a state indoor title in 18 years when she ran 8.35 to capture the 55 hurdle title. She also placed fourth in the 55 dash with a PR of 7.30. The last Rahway girl to win a state indoor title was LaShonda Carter, who captured the Group 2 55 and 200 in 2005.
Group 3 Champions
- Team Timber Creek Reg. HS
- 55m Sianni Wynn 9 Pennsauken HS 7.09
- 400m Sianni Wynn 9 Pennsauken HS 57.26
- 800m Sofia Day 10 Mainland Regional HS 2:15.59
- 1600m Paige Boyce 12 North Hunterdon HS 5:04.50
- 3200m Delana Einreinhofer 10 Wallkill Valley HS 10:53.78
- 55mH Nyjae Shipley 12 Rahway HS 8.35
- 4x400m Timber Creek Reg. HS 4:03.18
- High Jump Elaina Styer 12 Ocean City HS 5-04
- Pole Vault Shreya Sathiyan 10 Morris Hills HS 11-06
- Shot Put Maddie Hussey 11 Middletown South HS 38-05.50