Groups: May 30-31, 2008 Groups 1,2,4 at Egg Harbor - Group 3, Non-Public A&B at South Plainfield
Meet of Champions: Wed., June 4, 2008 - South Plainfield NJ
Rain delay fails to dampen boys MOC match-ups Boys NJ MOC Report by George Kochman, Jr. - Girls Story Photos by John Nepolitan
Heavy rains early Wednesday morning, coupled with the threat of more rain later in the day, forced a postponement of the Meet of Champions, but fans were treated to an exciting round of competition the following day.
This was the day of big summit meetings, and they came early in the program.
In the 1,600-meter run, speculation centered on whether super-kicker Robby Andrews of Manalapan would stay with the expected fast pace of another junior, Brett Johnson (left) of Ocean City.
Johnson was hoping someone would take the pace out quickly.
“I thought 4:02-4:03 was possible today,” he said. “But if I knew if I took the whole race, that wouldn’t happen.”
Andrews, who has shown a tendency to lag off the pace, was close, as Johnson was 63.7 at 400, and 2:08.5 at 800.
Andrews was still within eight yards at 1,200 (3:12.4), but it was Johnson who had the big finish tonight. He blasted home a 56.5 final circuit to take the meet record down to 4:09.03, while Andrews finished in 4:11.65.
Andrews, the big kicker, had been outdone, and he praised Johnson, saying, “He’s going to be very tough to beat.”
Attention quickly shifted to the pressure-packed shot put circle, where Mike Alleman of Scotch Plains was waging a private war with frosh phenom Nick Vena of Morristown, as a large crowd roared with every put.
Vena (right) settled the issue with a 65-03.50 throw on his third attempt, while Alleman immediately responded with a 64-4 effort.
The tension continued to mount with each round.
Alleman, who had won the MOC title on his last throw last year, still had a great chance, and the crowd roared with anticipation. But the big throw never came, and the two giants of New Jersey throwing shook hands after another hyped competition.
Alleman said simply, “My legs weren’t with me today like they were last week.”
Another big battle took place in the 3200, where junior Doug Smith of Gill-St. Bernard led a pack of four through 3:24.2 at 1,200 meters.
Smith had decided to hammer the middle part of the race, and he broke away by nearly 50 yards.
Millburn soph Tyler Udland, second at the 1,200 mark, dropped all the way back to fifth, and started a big kick, seemingly for second, with a lap remaining.
“I’ve been closing hard in all my 32’s,” said Udland. “I knew he was fading, but I was kicking for second. With 300 to go, I had no chance,” he said. And even on the last turn, “I thought he had too much on me.”
But in the last 40 meters, Smith faded badly, and Uldand flew by to win in 9:04.80, while Smith finished in 9:05.73. Senior Christian Baumbach of Hopewell Valley was third in 9:0.04.
“Everything was perfect, until the last lap,” said a disconsolate Smith.
The Garden State is assured of some great distance racing over the next few years, with sophomore Dave Forward of Shawnee running 9:10.28. Junior Robert Molke of Don Bosco ran 9:10.41, while the Rosa twins, James and Joe, clocked 9:11.56 and 9:15.38, respectively.
The 800 featured Hillsborough’s Jason Walton, and the talented junior did not disappoint.
Brian Laskowski of Bishop Eustace ran a quick 52.8-first lap, with Walton on his shoulder, and with 250 remaining, Walton unloaded a furious finish that had the crowd gasping.
He opened a big lead, and although Monroe Kearns of Jackson valiantly gave chase, the issue was decided. Walton finished in 1:50.14, while Kearns lowered his personal best to 1:51.43. Soph Keith Griffith of West Windsor-Plainsboro South ran third in 1:53.25.
Converted baseball player Devon Hill of Trenton Central took no chances, and dominated the 110-meter hurdles, winning in 13.89, while Demetrius Rooks (left) of Absegami, who had a modest personal best of 56.1 last year, took the 400-meter hurdles in 53.31.
“I had to come to do my best,” said Hill. “I was the top seed, and everyone was after me.”
“I just try to run my own race,” said Rooks. “I hit a hurdle on the backstretch, but I stayed focused. If I don’t, then I’ll try to do something I shouldn’t do.”
Isaiah Gill of Plainfield scored a narrow victory in the flat 400 (47.16), holding off Clayton Parros of Seton Hall (47.36) down the stretch.
Robert Page of Kingsway was confident that if he got a good start, he’d win the 100.
“If I get out good, no one will beat me,” he said, and he led midway through the race. Then it was just “relax and push” over the final 40 meters to the tape.
Page clocked 10.76 into a slight headwind.
Chris Wyckoff of Toms River East came in with a 14-6 best in the pole vault.
“I just wanted to clear 15-0 today, and if that wasn’t good enough, so be it,” he said.
Third going into his final attempt at 15-0, he achieved his goal, and won his first MOC title.
Defending javelin champion Brian Florek of Old Bridge knew that the event was a crap shoot, and with five 200-footers in the field, one throw would make the difference.
Sixth after the opening round, he moved to third after round three.
The big throw came on the fifth attempt, where he threw 201-1.
He admitted that “the last round was hard to watch. Any one of the five of us could have won. I wasn’t consistent at all today.”
In the jumps, Stevenson Cajuste of Egg Harbor took the long jump with a 23-3.25 leap; Chris Phipps of Lodi confirmed his status as the state’s top triple jumper with a 49-4.25 meet record, and Qaadir Tudor of West Orange bested Montez Blair of Timber Creek to win the high jump on misses at 6-10.
Akeem Gauntlet of Abraham Clark won the 200 in 21.59 over Egg Harbor’s Tejay Johnson, who clocked 21.79.
Jason Plummer of Central Regional upset the form chart, throwing 177-4 to take the discus throw.
Absegami, with Rooks running a big anchor leg, closed out the evening with a 3:15.77 win in the 4x400-relay, with the first six teams all under 3:19.12.