Groups 2-3: Demarest, Delsea, Timber Creek, Willingboro Win

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The Demarest boys and Willingboro girls broke long droughts, the Delsea boys and Timber Creek girls captured titles, and Sianni Wynn, Clemmie Lilley, and Liliah Gordon put on sensational shows at the NJSIAA Groups 2-3 Championships that ended close to midnight on Saturday night at the Bennett Center in Toms River.


Led by all-round star Liam Paneque, the Demarest boys won the Group 2 title, snapping a 59-year title drought with a dramatic 28-26 win over both Rumson and Manchester Township, who tied for second.

This is the first title for Demarest since 1965 and its the fourth overall. Demarest also won in 1961 and '64.

Demarest was trailing heading into the 4x400, the final event on the track, but came up with a clutch runner-up finish in 3:32.92 to secure the team title.   

Paneque, a junior, won the high jump for Demarest by clearing 6-4, and Demarest picked up key points from junior Adam Kaufman, who was fourth in the 400 (51.41) and ran on the 4x400, and from junior Luke Davis, third in the 800 in 1:59.00.    

In other highlights in the boys Group 2 competition, Robbinsville senior Maxim Rychkov, the defending Meet of Champions winner in the 55 dash, won that race after crossing the line in 6.53.

Senior Jaden Marchan of Leonia, the state leader in the 400 with a 47.64 (No. 11 in state history), won the 2-lapper in 50.06.


The Willingboro girls used its superior sprint speed to pull away for its first title in 20 years, and Clemmie Lilley of Rumson was a triple winner in the girls Group 2 competition.  

Willingboro, which has now captured six state indoor titles (Group 4 in 1981, Group 2 in '98, Group 3 in '02, '03 and '04) and now Group 2 in 2024, went 1-3-4 in the 55 dash to open a huge lead on he way to a 64-48 victory over runner-up Rumson.

Junior Nester Wea led the charge for Willingboro by winning the 55 dash with a PR of 7.23, placing second in the 400 (58.76), finishing second in the 55 hurdles (8.43), and she ran on the runner-up 4x400 relay that ran 4:01.95.   

Also scoring big on the track for Willingboro were Kaila Speight placed third in the 400, third in the dash, and ran a leg on the relay, Maya Bolden was fourth in the dash and ran on the relay.

In the field, Willingboro received a runner-up finish in the high jump from Naa'rah Andrews (a PR of 5-2), and a third-place finish from Chanel Swain in the shot put (37-7.25).

Lilley was her usual splendid self as the junior did everything she could to keep Rumson within striking distance for most of the meet. Lilley won the 400 in 57.05, finished first in the 800 with an NJ No. 4 time of 2:12.26, and earned her third gold medal when she split 56.97 on the anchor leg of the victorious 4x400 relay that clocked a 3:59.10.       


Timber Creek repeated as champion, and Sianni Wynn of Pennsauken and Liliah Gordon of Northern Burlington lit up the track to highlight the girls Group 3 action.
In one of the tightest team battles of the the weekend, Timber Creek came through with a clutch runner-up finish in the 4x400 in 3:57.91 to earn 8 points to clinch a 34-30 victory over Mount Olive. That gave Timber Creek their third state indoor title overall. Timber Creek also won Group 3 in 2017 and last year. 

Winslow won the 4x400 with a Group 3 record 3:57.17 to finish third in the team standings with 29 points.

Timber Creek didn't win any events, but received some sensational performances to ignite the team to the championship.   

Guerlande Pierre, a senior, scored nine points with a very rare triple. She finished third in the 55 hurdles in 8.36,  was fifth in the shot at 35-6, and cleared 5-0 to place sixth in the high jump. I told you it was rare!!! 

Junior Naylah Jones, the state leader in the 55 dash a 6.93, finished third in the dash in 7.13 and ran on the runner-up 4x400. Billie Frazier (8.58) and Nyla Jones (8.74) finished fourth and sixth in the 55 hurdles, and Ryan Jennings ran on the relay, placed fourth in the dash in 7.17, and ran 58.81 to place fifth in the 400. 

The sprints were dominated by Wynn!

The junior, who is the state leader in the 400 with a 55.51, won the 400 with a Group 3 record 56.38 and captured the 55 dash in 7.04, which is tied for NJ. No. 4 this season. 

Senior Saniyah Evans of Rahway was also a double-winner, running 8.14 to capture the 55 hurdles, and clearing 5-6 to win the high jump. Evans is the state co-leader in the high jump at 5-8.

Gordon continued her torrid season in the distance races when she took over the state lead in the 3,200 by dropping a bomb as the junior ran a big PR of 10:33.78, which is NJ No. 1 US No. 10 this season! Rosemary Shay of Middletown South finished second with a big PR of 10:39.31, which is NJ No. 3 this season.  



Delsea captured its first title in Group 3 and its fifth overall, Malakai Pressey matched the top high jump in the state this season, and Colts Neck's Hunter Celkupa was a double winner in the boys Group 3 competition. 

Delsea, which won Group 2 championships in 2011, 2018, 2020, and 2022, used a balanced attack to defeat runner-up Morris Knolls, 42.33-30.

Delsea scored 24.33 points in the field and 18 on the track!!!

As usual, Delsea dominated in the ring as the Crusaders rang up 18 points with a 1-3-5 finish in the shot put. 

Junior Jonathan Harris unloaded a 58-11.25 to win the shot put, and senior Greg Masso (55-0) and senior Tyler Habersham-Agbemenu (49-7.50) finished 3-5. Harris has emerged as a big star this season. He threw a NJ No. 2 60-0.25 last week.

Delsea also picked up big points in the pole vault from senior Carlos Reyes, third with a PR matching 13-0, and Wayne Adair cleared 6-0 to tie for sixth in the high jump.

On the track, sophomore Matthew Littlehales placed second in the 1.600 with a PR of 4:21.71, senior Julian Conigliaro placed third in the dash (a PR of 6.58), and ran on the fourth-place 4x400 relay squad.  

In other highlights, Pressey, a senior at Freehold Boro, won the high jump by clearing a big PR of 6-7, which ties him with Jordan Russell of Weehawken for the state lead. Pressey's previous best was 6-4!

Celkupa, a junior, won the 1,600 in 4:20.50 and the 3,200 in 9:31.17.