RJ Smith of Linden was a double winner and Taylor Cox left a lot of smoke on the track by burning a meet record and taking over the state lead in the 100-meter dash to highlight an electrifying opening day at the Union County Championships on Tuesday at the Milt Campbell Track and Field Complex in Plainfield.
In the team standings, the Union Catholic girls, bidding for an eighth straight title, and the Union Catholic boys, seeking a third straight championships, are both in the lead. The Union Catholic girls won all four events on the track and captured five of the eight events. They are a virtual lock to continue their stranglehold on the title
The second and final day of competition is scheduled to begin on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Smith, a senior who came into the meet seeking his first county title, captured two championships in less than 10 minutes!!
The biggest highlight in the girls competition was provided by Cox, a the sophomore star at Union Catholic.
Running the 100 dash for the first time this season, Cox produced to the two fastest times in the state this season and put her name in the record book. First, she ran a state-leading 11.94 in the trials, and then she blasted an 11.80 in the final to take down the meet record of 11.81 set in 2013 by Haisha Bisiolu of Union. Cox's 11.81 ties her for No. 6 in state history for a sophomore. Linya Gedeon of Elizabeth ran 11.98 to place second in the dash, which is tied for NJ No. 3 this season!
Cox, who is also the state leader in the 100 hurdles at 13.87, has a good shot at taking down the meet record in the 100 hurdles on Wednesday of 13.79, which was set in 2014 by the legendary Sydney McLaughlin. Cox is a huge favorite to repeat as champion in the hurdles.
Kiara Fleming of Union Catholic, who came into the meet with a was a surprise winner in the girls 400 hurdles as the freshman sliced nearly 3 seconds off her PR by dropping a 65.80 (her previous best was 1:08.79). Fleming, who led a 1-3-5 finish for UC, was dead last after 150 meters, but finished with a flourish to score the huge upset victory.
Seniors Kaleigh Gunsiorowski, Alexandra Bonn, Maameyaa Nyinah, and Javon McKay, who are all graduating from Union Catholic on Wednesday, came up with big victories.
Gunsiorowski hit the gas with about 250 meters left to overtake Lindsay Hausman of Kent Place, and then put the hammer down on the way to victory in 4:54.60, just off the meet record of 4:53.15 set last year UC's Peyton Hollis.
Bonn, a three-time Meet of Champions winner in the triple jump (twice indoors and once outdoors), leaped 38-10 regain her county title in the TJ. She won as a sophomore in 2021 and was second last year. She will defend her long jump title on Wednesday.
Nyinah, who has been close to winning county titles in the past, surged over the final 20 meters in the 400 to secure her first county title with a time of 56.71.
McKay dipped under 11 flat for the first time in the boys 100 when he ran 10.96 to capture his first county title.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Jimmy Wischusen of Union Catholic, who set the meet record in the 3,200 (9:07.99) last year, added the 1,600 title to his resume when he blasted his way to the lead with about 550 meters and pulled away to win in 4:15.11. Wischusen ran the final 800 in 2:05.2. Colin Riley of Dayton, the 1,600 winner last year, didn't run because of an IT band issue.
Wischusen, the Indoor Meet of Champions winner in the 3,200 this past March, will be back on the track on Wednesday to defend his 3,200 title in a race that should have plenty of fireworks.
With Wischusen clashing with Micah Lawson of Rahway, there's a chance that Wischusen and Lawson could both run under Wischusen's meet record! Lawson won the Meet of Champions titles in XC this past fall, and in the 1,600 this past indoor season.
IN THE FIELD
Westfield had a big day in the throws.
In the boys discus, seniors Phin Mindak (153-11) and Joe McGovern (PR of 147-11) went 1-2 for the Blue Devils , and sophomore Priscilla Dayon captured the girls javelin for Westfield with a throw of 116-1.
Ka-Deen Scarlett of Elizabeth won the girls pole vault on misses after clearing a personal best 8-6.
Junior Meghan Kreinberg of Dayton won the girls shot put with a 37-10.75.