Hot Times, Gutsy Team Performances Rule At Groups 1-4 Meet

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Sianni Wynn and Yashahya Brown left lots of smoke on the track with jaw-dropping and record-smashing races, the Hasbrouck Heights girls and Woodbury boys repeated, the Westfield boys ended a long drought with a masterful performance, and the Hillsborough and Eastern girls waged a dramatic battle to the wire at Saturday's NJSIAA Groups 1-4 Championships at Franklin High School.


Here's a breakdown of the biggest highlights in a meet filled with fireworks!!!   


In a meet jam-packed with eye-popping times, Wynn and Brown produced the most electrifying performances of them with as they dazzled the crowd with all-time great races.  

Wynn, a sophomore at Pennsauken, finished off a sensational quad with one of the fastest 400 times in state history and a victory in the 200. Brown, a senior at Washington Township, burned up the track by equaling the second fastest 110 hurdle time in NJ history!!! 

Wynn, who won the 100 dash and anchored the winning 4x100 on Friday, began Day 2 by burning a Group 4 record 53.45 in the 400, which places her No. 8 all-time in NJ history and the third fastest sophomore in state history. She came back later to collect her fourth gold medal by winning the 200 in 23.79!

The 53.45 by Wynn broke the Group 4 record of 53.61 that was set in 2022 by Julia Jackson of Scotch Plains-Fanwood, and it's the third fastest time ever run b a sophomore in NJ history. The only sophomores in NJ history to run faster in the one-lapper are legendary stars and Olympic gold medalists Athing Mu of Trenton (52.45 in 2018) and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone of Union Catholic (52.59 in 2015). How is that for some fast company!!!

Wynn revealed her plans for the Meet of Champions this Wednesday on her home track.

"I'm planning to run three races, the 4x100 and the 400, and I'm not sure if my third race will be the 100 or the 200,'' she said. "I have to think about it.''   

Brown came into the meet targeting a sub 13.40 in the 110 hurdles, and he nearly pulled it off when he blasted his way over the barriers in a wind-legal 13.43 (0.1)!! That equals the third fastest time in NJ history and tied the All Groups record (All Groups combined).

Brown's 13.43 tied him for No. 3 in state history with Danyne Brown of Camden, who ran his 13.43 at the 1999 State Group 3 Championships, and it also broke the Group 4 meet record of 13.45 that Nate Rayan of Scotch Plains-Fanwood ran to win the Group 4 title last year.

Only the legendary Renaldo Nehemiah of Scotch Plains-Fanwood, who ran a 12.9 hand time in 1979 (converts to 13.13 automatic time), and Rayan, who ran 13.40 to win the U20 National title last June, have run faster in the 110 hurdles in NJ history than Brown.

While happy with the new PR and meet record, Brown wasn't satisfied. He said he's getting that sub 13.40 at the Meet of Champions.


It's obviously very difficult and rare for any team to have a perfect meet, but Westfield came about as close as you can to it when the Blue Devils leveled up and ended a 47-year drought in dominating fashion as the Blue Devils outscored runner-up Toms River North, 77-59.

This is the first state outdoor title for Westfield since football/sprint stars Butch Woolfolk and Frank Kelly led the squad to the 1977 Group 4 Championship, and its the third title overall for the Blue Devils, who also won the State Group 3 Championship in 1940.

Westfield received several clutch performances on Friday, including a huge runner-up finish in the discus from junior Noah Rubenstein (a 13-foot PR of 153-5),  to grab a 36-28 lead over TRN. On Saturday, the Blue Devils leaned on their deep and talented stable of distance runners to close it out.

Westfield won the 4x800 when James Hamilton, Kaleb Stoeckmann, Eamon Mason, and Jimmy Gildea combined to run 7:54.22. How about what Hamilton did on the lead off, splitting 2:01.59 despite running the last 600 meters with one shoe after someone stepped on his heel!!! 

After Rowan McMahill finished fourth in the 200 for Westfield, Avery Keith (4:11.18), Alexander Valencia (4:11.48) and Ryan Daly (4:13.48) went 2-3-4 in the 1,600 for 18 points to put the meet away.  

Westfield put the finishing touches on its remarkable performance by placing second in the 4x400 in 3:22.02.  


The best team battle of the meet came in the girls Group 4 competition as Eastern and Hillsborough battled right to the very end of the 4x400 before being crowned co-champions.

Heading into the third and final heat in the meet-concluding 4x400, Hillsborough was on top of the standings with 46 points. Washington had 43 and Eastern had 40.

On the final exchange, Eastern was in second place and Hillsborough was in sixth. But Eastern sophomore star Natalie Dumas, who had sensational meet, dropped a 54.55 to rally past Franklin and cross the line first, stopping the clock at 3:53.32 and giving Eastern 10 points to finish with 50.

Meanwhile, senior Sabrina Sardar, who split 57.13, passed two teams and grinded hard over the final 100 to secure fourth place as she brought the Red Raiders across the line in 4:00.29.  Hillsborough's fourth-place was worth four points to give the Red Raiders a total of 50 points.

But there's more to this.

Union ran 4:00.69 to win the second heat, which means Hillsborough earned a share of the state title by 4-tenths of a second!!! 

This is the first state title for Hillsborough, which has racked up numerous Somerset County, Skyland Conference, and Central Jersey Group 4 titles in its great history.

For Eastern, this was the first state title for the Vikings since winning its first two titles in 2002 and 2003.   

Dumas was simply spectacular for Eastern. She won the 400 hurdles on Friday in 1:01.83, and on Saturday she was second in the 400 in 54.75, split 2:11.27 as the anchor on the runner-up 4x800, and then blasted the 54.55 anchor carry to close out the meet. 

Eastern also picked up a big 10 points from senior Zoe Goldberg, who won the javelin with a 140-9, and fifth place finishes from Samantha Osei-Kyei in the 800 and from Aniyah Smith in the javelin.

Saradar was the catalyst for Hillsborough.

In addition to her clutch anchor leg, she ran a 2:19.05 second leg on the winning 4x800 that ran a school record 9:27.46, and she finished fourth in the 400 in a school record 56.77 and was fourth in the 400 hurdles in 1:03.57.

Hillsborough also received a big victory from Ella Karolewski, who cleared 11-0 to win the pole vault. Laina Denys was fourth in the 800 in 2:15.26 and split 2:18.61 on the anchor leg of the 4x800. Michaela Ruffa placed fourth in the shot put and sixth in the discus, Angela Volkova was second in the discus, and Chloe Montgomery finished sixth in the long jump. 


Peyton Shute and Marquis Taylor always perform their best when their team needs them the most.

So knowing it would take everything they had to defeat favored Glassboro, Shute and Taylor answered the bell like they always do with a pair of dazzling performances as the dynamic duo had a hand in 76 of Woodbury's 78 points to lead the Herd to their second straight title and 13th overall, the fifth most in state history. Woodbury avenged its loss to Glassboro at the South Jersey Sectional Championships, 78-57.    

The Cornell-bound Shute poured his guts out as usual in the distance races. 

On Friday, he ran a PR of 1:52.05 to win the 800, and won the 3,200 in 9:26.98. He came back Saturday to split 1:54.5 on the runner-up 4x800 and then won the 1,600 in 4:16.43.     

Taylor, who burned up the track in the sprints, also won three gold medals.   

He won the 400 in 48.23, anchored the winning 4x400 with a 48.27 anchor carry, anchored the victorious 4x100, and placed fourth in the 200 in 21.67.


Hasbrouck Heights received points from several athletes as the Aviators used their remarkable balance ton the way to a 70-52 victory over runner-up Audubon.

Versatlie star Alexandra Samperi, thrower Elliot Eddy  and hurdler Ellie Shkreli  led the charge for Hasbrouck Heights.

Samperi, a senior, soared 18-5 to win the long jump, ran 12.56 to finish third in the 100, and was fourth in the 200.

Eddy, a senior, placed in all three throws with a third in the shot put, fourth in the discus, and a fourth in the shot put. 

Shkreli, a junior, won the 100 hurdles with a 15.38, and junior Lexi Powers was fourth in the 3,200, freshman Gina Minichiello placed fourth n the 400 hurdles, and Samantha Russo finished fourth in the shot put. 

Hasbrouck Heights also placed third in the 4x100, fourth in the 4x800, and fifth in the 4x100. 


Southern junior Cole Cramer and Burlington City senior Malachi James completed very impressive sprint doubles.

Cramer, who won the Group 4 100 on Friday in a wind-aided 10.59, defeated 400 champ Jordaine Johnson of East Orange in the 200 by running a wind-legal 21.45.


Malachi James made it two for two vs. records held by NFL players. 

On Friday, James won the Group 1 100 in 10.47 to win the final, and a wind legal 10.45 in the trials to break the Group 1 record of 10.58 set in 2017 by current Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor of Salem.

James came back Saturday to break the Group 1 200 record when he ran a wind legal 21.48 to edge Marquis Taylor of Woodbury (21.67).

The 21.48 by James broke the Group 1 record of 21.5 that was set in 1983 by former NFL wide receiver  Willie "Flipper'' Anderson of Paulsboro


Jamir Brown of Riverside and Kylie Castillo of Ridgefield put on great shows in Group 1 by pulling off sensational triples.

Brown soared a meet record 23-8.75, No. 4 in the state this season, to win the long jump, and swept the hurdle with times of 13.81 and 53.53.

Castillo, who the 200 and 400 last year, successfully defended those titles and also won the 100 and to give her five outdoor state titles in her amazing career.     


Luke Pash not only won the boys Group 4 1,600, but he took down a school record held by a legend, Bob Keino!!!

Pash, a  junior, pulled the trigger on his wicked kick at the start of the bell lap and threw down a 59.28 final 400 to stop the clock at 4:09.00!! That broke the school record of 4:09.35 that Keino ran back in 1994.

Pash, who ran 8:59.77 when he won the 3,200 at the Indoor Meet of Champions in March, added his name to a very prestigious list of distance runners in NJ history who have run sub 4:10 for 1,600 and sub 9:00 for 3,200!! Note-I'm working on getting all the names on that list.  

Pash is still undecided about whether he will run at the Meet of Champions. He said he will choose between the 1,600 at the M of C and the two-mile on Friday at the New Balance Nationals.        


Alanna Woolfolk of Clayton continued her dominance in the high jump by clearing 5-6 to win her fourth straight Group 1 title!!! The Rutgers-bound Woolfolk finishes her career with seven total State Group Championships in the high jump. She also won three indoors!

Woolfolk will attempt to win her fifth Meet of Champions title in the high jump on Wednesday. She's won two indoors (2022 and '24) and two outdoors (2021 and 2023).


Freehold Township senior Emma Zawatski completed the trifecta in the Group 4 1,600, using a strong move with 300 to go to pull away for the win in 4:56.74. Zawatski closed in 1:06.21 to win by just over two seconds.

The Colorado-bound Zawatski finishes her amazing career with nine state Group 4 titles in all three seasons combined. She won two in XC, four indoors, and three outdoors.

While she was thrilled to win another State Group title, Zawatski biggest goal is to finish her career with five Meet of Champions titles. She's won two in XC and one indoors and one outdoors in the 1,600. Zawatski, who won the outdoor M of C title as a sophomore and was second last year, is also planning on running the mile at the New Balance Nationals.