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New Jersey Report - by Ed Grant
Dec 22 , 2004

Janine Davis comes within 0.31 of 600m national record at the New York Armory, but high school "politics" prevent matchup with Maryland supersoph Devon Williams.

Janine Davis of Queen of Peace for the New Jersey indoor season off to a flying start when she came within .31 of the national record in winning the 600M in 1:30.00 at the Bishop Loughlin meet last Saturday at the New York Armory.

The record might well have fallen but for the intervention of high school athletic "politics," name the exclusion of supersoph Devon Williams of Towson Catholic from the race. Williams, along with other athletes from several Maryland Catholic high schools, was forced to run in the hastily-created "168th St. Invitational," as were the girls from Philadelphia West Catholic High School.

The excuse for this is that these schools do not belong to their respective state associations. The problem is that the Maryland Catholic schools cannot belong to their association, while West Catholic is a member of the Philadelphia Catholic High Schools Athletic Association, an organization fully comparable to the similar New York group, whose teams competed without challenge.

Only a week before her Loughlin race, Davis had wun a 1:13.33 500M on the unbanked track at the Seton Hall University field house, defeating an otherwise all-collegiate field. Williams holds the national record for the distance at 1:11.53. Just when the two will get together, however, is a big question at this point.

The Loughlin meet naturally provided the majority of the top NJ marks ,last weekend. Bryan Scotland of St. Benedict's---which has settled its differences with the New Jersey association---finished third in the boys' 1K in 2:33.85, losing a slow-paced seeded section by the nose and then watched as the next section was won in an even faster time.

Jamar Byrd of Vineland took the LJ at 23-3 3/4 and Prescott Hill of South Brunswick added a second field win in the SP at 51-1 1/4. Christian Brothers took the 3200R in 8:03.64.

Joining Davis as winners in the girls' meet were Julianna Toto of Middletown South who cleared the PV bar at 12-6 and Deanna Hahn of Lakewood who took the SP at 40-1 1/4.

Sable Loper led a strong showing by Woodrow Wilson of Camden, placing 2nd in the LJ at 18-2 3/4 and third in the 55H in 8.53.

Wilson was back at the Armory on Monday for the Holiday Festival with Loper repeating her lJ win at 17-4 and anchoring a 4:02.8 win in the 1600R. That meet also featured a hand-timed sprint double by Racquel Vassell of East Orange at 7.0 and 25.1 with a 2nd in the 55H at 8.2 thrown infor good measure. Michelle Smith of Teaneck took the latter race in 8.1.

In boys' action that night, Oderick Turner of Teaneck cleared the HJ bar at 6-8, while football star Dan Oquendo of Hackensack doubled the 55H and LJ at 7.4 and 20-11.

The short but hectic season at Drew University, Madison, opened Saturday with the newly-named O'Leary Invitational. Another football ace, South African-born Marcel Van Eeden of Mendham took the featured boys' 600M race in 1:25.86, while Pari Hashemi of Randolph charged up in the final strides to edge Celeste Holder of Parsippany in the girls' event in 1:42.13.

All-arounder Alaina Alfano of Hanover Park had the first of what should be many triples this season as she won the 55M in 7.72, the 55H in 8,74 and the HJ at 5-2.

Cross-country star Lauren Gregory of Morris Knolls had an unusual "double," winning the 3200 in 11:29.04 and also placing in the 55H. Another possible future steeplechaser, Kim Standridge of Randolph, took the 1K in 3:12.72

Just to prove this was no "memorial" meet, Jack O'Leary (for whom it is named) saw his Msgr. Donovan charges take two events, the 1600 and the 1600R.

Anthony Pomo of Saddle Brook was the star of the first two meets of the season at Fairleigh Dickinson University's Rothman Center. In the FDU invitational on Friday, he doubled the 55 and 55H in 6.7 and 7.5, and then repeated it on Tuesday in the "Season Opener," at 6.5 and 7.6.

The latter meet also saw the indoor debut of Shaquan Brown of Paterson Kennedy who might well battle Van Edden for the state all-group 400M title in February. Brown won the 300M from two teammates on the well-worn FDU track in 37.0. His freshman teammate, Kris Crawford, took the girls' 300 in 43.5, the first of what should be an endless series of gold for this talented youngster.

Tiny Annie Taft of Bishop Eustace was the star of the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Passarelli relays on Sunday at the West Point Field House. She opened with an anchor leg in a 34.2 SHR win, led off a 4:17.1 victory in the 1600R, headed a LJ win at 17-9 3/4 and finished by anchoring a 1:52.8 victory in the 800R. Scotland came back from his disappointing loss at Loughlin to anchor a 3:40.1 SMR win in the boys' division.

What looks like a short South Jersey season (only one other meet is scheduled at this point) began on Friday and Sunday at Haverford, Pa., with relay action. Jackson had a 33.6 win in the girls' SHR.



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