Groups 1-4: Westfield, Metuchen, Franklin, And Clayton Win

Results | Videos | Photos 

The Westfield and Metuchen boys and Clayton girls all repeated as champions, the Franklin girls won its first title in over 20 years, there were some red hot distance races, and a state record holder didn't race at Saturday's NJSIAA Group 1-4 Championships at the Bennett Center in Toms River.

Here are some highlights - 


On paper, it looked like the battle for the boys Group 1title would be a close one, but Metuchen didn't let that happen as the Bulldogs 
received big contributions from several athletes to rack up 59 points and outscore runner-up Glassboro by 20 points.

It's the second straight title for Metuchen and its seventh overall, which is tied for ninth most in state history.

Distance ace Alex Patelski was the catalyst for Metuchen as he threw down a very impressive triple, which included two PR's!

Patelski, a senior, won the 800 in a PR of 2:00.44, placed second in the 1,600 with a PR of 4:18.27, and he was third in the 3,200 as he compiled 24 points for the Bulldogs!

Junior Eric Schleif also had a huge day for Metuchen. The junior was second in the 800 in 2:00.66, fourth in the 1,600 with a PR of 4:30.16, and he joined Juan Nicholas Hidalgo, Kasper Ruszala, and Vedant Naik to win the 4x400 in 3:32.30.

There were several sensational performances in Group 1. 

Burlington City senior Malachi James smashed the Group 1 record in the 55 dash with a PR of 6.30, which placed him tied for No. 4 in state history.
With the injuries to state 55 dash record holder Ajani Dwyer of Washington knocking him out of the Group 4 meet and the M of C, James, who won the 100 and 200 at the outdoor Meet of Champions in 2022, is now the favorite to win the 55 dash at the M of c on Match 3..   

State high jump leader Jordan Russell of Weehawken captured the high jump by clearing 6-6. Russell is the only jumper in the state to make 6-7 or better this season.
Senior Peyton Shute of Woodbury won the 1,600 in 4:17.42 and the 3,200 in 9:33.34. Shute, the runner-up at the XC Meet of Champions this past fall and Foot Locker XC finalist, will be one of the favorites to win whichever race he chooses at the M of C on March 3 


Westfield made it a three-peat, Yashahya Brown continued his torrid season over the barriers, state record holder Ajani Dwyer didn't compete, and the distance races were fire in the boys Group 4 competition. 

Westfield showed that you don't always have to pick up a bunch of victories to come out top as long as you get multiple strong efforts across the board, and that's what the Blue Devils did.

Despite not winning any events, the Blue Devils had several strong performances en route to a 43-26 victory over runner-up Washington Township.

Westfield scored 30 of its 43 points in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.

Senior Avery Keith placed third in the very deep 1,600 and the 3,200 with times of 4:17.82 and 9:17.52. Tage Mehta finished fourth in the 3,200, Ryan Daly was fourth in the 1,600, and Alexander Valencia (1:55.29) and Jimmy Gildea (1:55.66) went 3-4 in the 800.

The Blue Devils also placed second in the 4x400 and Emanuel Gayanilo placed fourth in the 55 hurdles and sixth in the 400.     

As for Washington Township, only one half of its dynamic duo competed.  

Washignton's Yashahya Brownthe state record holder in the 55 hurdles with a 7.06, narrowly missed the All Groups record when he won the hurdles in 7.21, just off the record of 7.20 set by Cory Poole of East Orange Campus in 2017.

Washington senior Ajani Dwyer, the state record holder and US No. 1 in the 55 dash this season with a 6.18, didn't race due to injuries.

As expected, the distance races were sizzling.

Junior Luke Pash of Ridgewood and Stephen Kyvelos of Manalapan traded wins. Pash edged Kyvelos in the 1,600 in a NJ No. 3 4:14.97,  with Kyvelos second in a NJ No. 4 4:15.19. Kyvelos came back to nip Pash in the 3,200, 9:15.42 to 9:16.67.

In a race that saw 8 guys go under 1:59, Cherokee senior Robert Poplau won a super fast 800 with NJ No. 2 time of 1:54.64, whoch is the fastest time ever indoors for a runner from Burlington County.  


Clayton rode the performances of four girls to a 41-34 victory over Audubon as the Clippers captured their second straight title.

Alanna Woolfolk cleared 5-8 to equal the Group 1 meet record and win her third straight high jump title. Woolfolk matched the record set in 2011 by Alexa Williams of Dayton, and her 5-8 also earned her a share of the state lead with Rahway's Saniyah Evans. The Rutgers-bound Woolfolk has captured three Meet of Champions high jump titles in her career (2 outdoors and one indoors), and will be favored to win her fourth in two weeks.

Leila Ortiz won the 55 dash for Clayton with a PR of 7.37 and was second in the 400 in 59.79. Maylisa Bluford won the shot put with a throw of 39-2.75, and Miyana Johnson placed fifth in the high jump and sixth in the 55 dash for Clayton.    


The Franklin girls have waited a long time to hold up a state indoor championships trophy again - 22 years to be exact.

But that wait is finally over as the Warriors became state indoor champs for the first time since 2002 and for  just the third time ever with a 39-28.25 victory over runner-up Eastern.     

This is Franklin's first Group 4 title ever indoors. Its other two championships came in Group 3 in 1995 and 2002.   

Senior Qiora Rollins fueled Franklin's attack by placing second in the 400 (57.20), third in the 55 dash (7.28) and running a leg on the runner-up 4x400 relay.  Franklin also received a victory from Jessica Uzor in the 55 hurdles, who ran a PR of 8.31 to just edge Aaliyah Murphy of Morristown, who ran the same time. 

Also scoring for the Warriors was Taliah Woodward, third in the hurdles, and Londyn Langford, sixth in the shot put with a 36-4.25.    

Emma Zawatski of Freehold Township avenged her losses to Julia Scrudato of Montgomery in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the sectional meet last week, by winning both of those races to raise her career total to an astounding eight state track and field championships.

In one of the most eagerly anticipated matchups of the weekend that featured a pair of Meet of Champions winners, Zawatski edged Scrudato in the 1,600, 4:53.58 to 4:53.87. Zawatski came back to win the 3,200 in 10:54.26. Scrudato didn't double.

Senior Olivia Nickelsen of Toms River North had one of the most impressive performances of the meet when she dropped a big PR of 2:11.98, the third fastest time in the state this season, to break the Group 4 record of 2:12.10 set in 1986 by Jasmin Jones of Hackensack. Nickelsen also placed third in the 400 in 57.60.

In other highlights, sophomore Natalie Dumas of Eastern won the 400 with an indoor PR of 57.12, was second in the 800 in 2:16.80, and anchored the winning 4x400 (4:00.12).  

Junior Jessica Oji of Livingston, who has made an amazing comeback from knee surgery last spring, repeated as shot put champion with a NJ No. 2 throw of 44-7.25. Oji won the shot put at the Meet of Champions last winter and seems ready to go back-to-back.