Top Storylines Ahead of NJSIAA Group State Championships

Here we go!! Riveting rematches, eagerly awaited showdowns, and great battles for team titles will be on tap while several meet records will be under siege at the NJSIAA Group Championships this weekend at the Rothman Orthopaedics Sports Complex "The Bubble" in Toms River.

The Non-Public A and B Championships are scheduled for Friday at 4:15 p.m., Groups 1&4 is set for Saturday at 9 a.m., and Groups 2&3 is scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

The top three finishers in each event and 12 wild cards per event will advance to the Meet of Champions on March 3rd at Ocean Breeze.

As always, NJ MileSplit will have you covered with lots of videos, stories, and photos.

I know all you track and field nuts are looking for something to whet your appetite as you get ready to follow all the action.

So we've done some digging and have come up with some of the biggest storylines to follow, along with predictions for all 12 team champions!

Good luck, everyone! Get your PR's on!!! What do you say we dive right into this!! ON YOUR MARK! SET! BANG!


No team in state history has ever had a 1-2 punch in the sprints/hurdles like Washington Twp's dynamic duo of Ajani Dwyer and Yashahya Brown, who have both broken state records this season!

Brown, who ran 7.06 to break the state record in the hurdles at the SJ Sectional Championships two weeks ago, is targeting the All Groups meet record of 7.20 by Cory Poole of East Orange Campus in 2017.

Meanwhile, Dwyer, who obliterated the state record in the 55 dash with the 6.18 he ran at the Millrose Games Trials, has the All Groups record of 6.34, which was set in 2018 by the late Mario Heslop of Franklin, in his crosshairs.

With Brown and Dwyer leading the charge, Washington could capture its first boys state title ever. Washington, defending champion Westfield, and Cherokee should wage a great 3-way battle for the Group 4 trophy.


Clemmie Lilley has been a record-breaking machine this season. The junior at Rumson-Fair Haven broke both the 400m and 800m records at the Shore Conference Championships and again at  the Central Jersey, Group 2 Championships.

Now the big target for Lilley is the Group 2 400m record of 55.91, was set in 2011 by two-time Olympian Ajee' Wilson of Neptune. It will be tough to run that fast on this track, but Lilley, wo has a run 56.49 this winter, has the ability to drop a big PR at any moment.


The girls All Groups meet record in the 55m hurdles is 7.86, set by legendary Olympian and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic in 2015. But another Union Catholic star might just take that record down. Junior Taylor Cox of UC has run under 7.86 twice this season, including a state-leading 7.82 at the Marie Corps Classic in December.


There are several great matchups that should produce some very fast times in the distance races.

Emma Zawatski of Freehold Township and Julia Scrudato of Montgomery will likely clash in the girls 1600m and 3200m for for the second straight week.

At the Central Jersey, Group 4 meet last week, Scrudato, who won the 1600m at the Meet of Champions last spring, came out on top in both races.

Zawatski, a 4-time M of C winner, has run 4:45.96 for the mile and 9:36.30 for 3K this season, so we know she's capable of dropping super fast times.

And with Scrudato owning a PR of 4:45.76 from when she won the M of C last June, the All Groups meet record of 4:49.7, the oldest record in the book, has a chance to fall if the race goes out fast. The 4:49.7 meet record was set way back in 1983 by Michele Rowen of Washington.

Freshman phenom Paige Sheppard of Union Catholic has run 4:50.19 for 1600m this season, so the girls Non-Public A record of 4:58.17 is on very shaky ground.

On the boys side, the Group 4 800m, 1600m and 3200m's are going to be lit.

At the Group 4 sectionals, there were five guys who ran under 1:58 in the 800m, three under 4:20 in the 1600m (many more have run under on the season), and six runners ran under 9:30 in the 3200m at the sectional meets.

The fastest runners in Group 4 this season in the 800m, 1600m and 3200m are Raynier Galvez of Passaic Tech (1:56.44), Nick Kuenkel of Cherokee in the 1600m (4:15.26), and Westfield's Avery Keith (9:16.40). With the amount of firepower in these races, the winning times could be as low as 1:54 in the 800m, the 4:12 range in the 1600m, and under 9:10 in the 3200m.


Junior Cade Zeolla of West Morris Central, who cleared a state-leading 15-7.50 to break the North 2 Group 2 record last week, has a great shot at breaking the Group 2 record of 15-6 that is shared by three vaulters.

Cade's older brother James Zeolla set the North 2 Group 3 Sectional pole vault record for West Morris Central in 2020.


Jaden Marchan of Leonia, who just dropped a US No. 7 and NJ No. 11 all-time 47.64 at Wednesday's Bergen County Championships at the NY Armory, could take down the All Groups meet record in the 400 (48.74 set by Taylor McLaughlin of Union Catholic back in 2015), if he pushes it.

The Group 2 meet record of 48.79 set by Gabriel Moronta of Pleasantville is also in danger of going down.


Keep an eye on the shot put circle as St. Rose senior Joshua Huisman could break the Non-Public B meet record of 63-8 that was set in 2022 by Joe Licata.

Huisman, who won the shot at the indoor and outdoor Meet of Champions last year, is the state leader with a 63-10 and has a PR of 64-7.75 from the M of C last June.


The only teams who have won two or more titles in a row are the Westfield boys, two straight in Group 4, the River Dell girls, two in a row in Group 2, and the Union Catholic girls, who are huge favorites to extend their state record winning streak to nine in a row in Non-Public A.



GROUP 4: Westfield

GROUP 3: Morris Knolls

GROUP 2: Willingboro

GROUP 1: Woodbury 

NON-PUBLIC A: Christian Brothers Academy

NON-PUBLIC BUnion Catholic


GROUP 4: Washington Twp

GROUP 3: Timber Creek

GROUP 2: Rumson-Fair Haven

GROUP 1: Hasbrouck Heights

NON-PUBLIC A: Union Catholic

NON-PUBLIC BVilla Walsh Academy