New Jersey's top track and field athletes left a lot of smoke on the track after lighting up the oval with several electrifying performances to highlight the boys competition at the 54th NJSIAA Meet of Champions on Sunday at Ocean Breeze on Staten Island.
This meet had everything
There were meet records smashed, several shocking upsets, a historic double by Damian Scouloukas, an emotional comeback story, two golds by Damarion Potts and Premier Wynn, and some of the most jaw-dropping performances in state history were thrown down in a meet for the ages.
Let's dive right into this.
RECORD BOOK TAKES BEATING
The combination of a remarkably deep talent pool, great competition, and a superior track to run on added up to three meet records being shattered and a parade of personal best times.
Xavier Donaldson of Seton Hall Prep and Collin Boler of Delbarton, future teammates at Princeton University, and Pennsauken's 4x400 relay squad all torched the track by smashing meet records, and Pennsauken also broke the high school facility record.
In a race that produced the three fastest time in meet history, Donaldson incredibly knocked nearly a full second off the meet record when he burned a 47.35 to win the 400, breaking the 10 year-old record of 48.26 set by Zyaire Clemes of Trenton in 2013. Donaldson's time is No. 5 in state history, and No. 6 in the nation this season.
The 400 was so fast that two other runners also ran well under the former record as Bryce Tucker of Pennsauken was second in 47.50, and Alexander Sadikov of Ocean Township was third in 48.00. And Ryan Matulonis of Seton Hall Prep equaled the time by Clemes by placing fourth in 48.26. Imagine matching the previous meet record and only placing fourth.
In the 800, which featured seven runners under 1:55, Boler, who is having one of the best seasons in state history, powered away from the field at the start of the bell lap and kept pulling away before he came hammering across the line, stopping the clock at 1:50.90! That broke the meet record of 1:51.72 set in 2013 by Isaac Clark of Pleasantville.
Boler, who won the 800 at the M of C last spring, is now No. 6 in state indoor history in the 800 and No. 5 in the US this season. Two weeks ago, Boler ran a 4:04.05 in the mile, No. 2 in state history. Now he does this!! What a season.
WATCH: MOCs Race Video Replays
The meet ended with a bang when Pennsauken blew up the track with a 3:15.83 to upset Seton Hall Prep, second in 3:16.72. Pennsauken's 3:15.83, which is No. 4 in state history, No. 11 in U.S. history, and No. 3 in the US this season, shattered the meet and high school facility records. The former meet record of 3:18.26 was set in 2017 by East Orange Campus, and the facility record of 3:18.28 was run by Cathedral of Los Angeles at the Nike National Championships last year.
Seton Hall Prep, which ran a NJ No. 2 all-time and US No. 9 all-time 3:15.73 to win at the Millrose Games last month, was leading Pennsauken by 2.72 seconds after the second hand-off. But Premier Wynn, who won the 200 earlier in the meet, moved Pennsauken from fourth to second with a 47.53 carry, and then Bryce Tucker reeled in Seton Hall Prep's Nick DeVita when he dropped a smoking hot 46.71 on the anchor.
Pennsauken and Seton Hall Prep will clash again next weekend at the New Balance National Championships in Boston, and the Pennsauken crew all said that the state record (3:15.53 by Union Catholic in 2014) will go down.
Nate Rayan of Scotch Plains-Fanwood came into this meet as the US leader in the 55 hurdles with the 7.14 he ran at Easterns last Wednesday, which is No. 3 in state history, and hadn't lost a race over the barriers.
But Yashahya Brown of Washington put together the fastest race ever for a junior in state history to edge Rayan, 7.22 to 7.30. Brown, who used a rocket start to grab the lead, broke the state junior class record of 7.23 that was set by Sultan Tucker of Delsea in 1996 and his 7.22 is tied for the No. 5 in state history.
A big upset also happened in the 4x800 relay when Charles Henne blasted a a huge PR of 1:53.81on the anchor leg to catch heavily favored Toms River North and give Chatham the victory in 7:54.36, which is No. 3 in meet history, tied for No. 13 in the nation, and is a new school record. Chatham's first three legs were run by Adam Petitjean (2:02.50), Reilly Byrne (2:01.56), and Leo Valenzuela (1:56.51). Petitjean was knocked to the track right at the start, forcing the race to be called back for a restart.
Another stunner came in the 55 dash when Maxim Rychkov, a junior at Robbinsville, outleaned Southern sophomore Cole Cramer, 6.45 to 6.48, to finish first. Rychkov, who said he was just hoping to make it the final, came into the meet with a PR of 6.53, and dropped that to 6.51 in the trials before burning a 6.45 in the final.
UNDERDOG DOES IT AGAIN
Micah Lawson strikes again!!!
Lawson, a senior at Rahway, went into the Meet of Champions in cross-country as the underdog and proved everyone wrong when he used a huge late surge to score the upset win at Holmdel Park.
On Sunday, Lawson once again found himself playing that same underdog role in the 1,600, and again he showed that it's mistake to bet against him.
Lawson, knowing he had to run faster than the 4:11.48 that Brian Boler of Delbarton in the unseeded heat, dropped the hammer with 600 to go when he blasted to the front and seized control of the race. Lawson, who avenged his second-place finish at the State Group 3 meet, then raced the clock and dropped a 60.65 final 400 to stop the clock at 4:10.56 to beat Boler's time and secure the title.
The time by Lawson, who covered the final 800 in 2:03.82, is No. 3 in meet history, No. 3 in Union County history, and a huge personal best. His previous best for 1,600 was 4:15.83, which he ran at the Union County Championships last May.
While the track was burning up with red hot times, there were also plenty of fireworks in the field events as Scouloukas and Potts showed lots of flair in the air.
Scouloukas, a senior at Hunterdon Central, pulled off one of the most unique and remarkable doubles you will ever see. He cleared 15-0 to win the pole vault, and also soared a personal best 46-0 to win the triple jump! He's the only athlete in meet history to pull off that double.
That's not all.
The Rhode Island-bound Scouloukas also cleared 6-0 to tie for eighth in the high jump, and he competed in the long jump where he's the state leader with a 23-2.25. But he fouled on all four of his attempts. How many athletes even try to do four events at the Meet of Champions? How awesome is that?
Scouloukas now owns PR's of 15-2 in the vault, 6-2 in the high jump, 23-2.25 in the long jump, 46-0 in the triple, 6.87 in th 55 dash, 7.92 in the 55 hurdles, 15.82 in the 100 hurdles, 56.6 ijn th 400, 33-10.25 in the shot put, 122-10 in the javelin, and 106-3 in the discus, and he has scored 5,706 points in the decathlon.
What an athlete!!!
Potts, a senior at South Brunswick, was also won the long jump on a tiebreaker after he and Noah Cooper of Union Catholic each soared 23-0.50, just off his PR of 23-2.
Potts then repeated as high jump champion when he cleared 6-6 to win on misses. Potts is the state leader in the high jump with a 6-7, and owns a PR of 6-9, which he cleared to win the M of C last March. Just like Scouloukas, Potts does several events. He has PR's of 51.91 in the 400, 45-2 in the triple jump, 6.79 in the 55 dash, and has run 8.65 in the 55 hurdles.
Potts hasn't committed to a college yet. Whoever lands him will be getting a star who is loaded with talent.
THE COMEBACK KID 2.0
Right after Jimmy Wischusen came charging across the line to win the 3,200 in a Union County record 9:05.80, he was immediately overcome with emotion.
The junior at Union Catholic, who missed just about the entire indoor season last year, and most of the cross-country season this past fall due to injuries, started thinking about everything he's had to overcome to fulfill his dream of becoming a Meet of Champions winner.
"I've been through a lot of injuries and stuff throughout my high school career," said Wischusen, who has shown a lot of heart and guts and resiliency to overcome all the adversity he's dealt with. "This was my first track Meet of Champions I've ever run in, so to win this means a lot to me. I was very emotional after I won."
Wischusen, who was battling a bad head cold on Sunday, didn't mind the slower pace (4:40.39 for first 1,600), so he just ran relaxed until it was go time. With about 800 to go, he hit the gas and made a powerful surge that dropped the very talented field. Wischusen ran a 4:25.41 final 1,600 with a 2:09.50 final 800 and a 67.16 closing 400 to win by four seconds over runner-up Nick Sullivan of CBA (9:09.01)
Josh Huisman had been waiting and waiting for his next big bomb to come.
It came in a big way on Sunday when the junior at St. Rose broke his personal best four times, capped off by a 62-0.75 as Huisman captured his first Meet of Champions title in the shot put.
Huisman, who had a PR of 60-10.75 from the Monmouth County Championships on Jan. 20, had throws of 60-11, 60-3.50, 61-7, 61-8.50, and then the 62-0.75, which places him No. 6 in the country this season.