Weather cooperates finally and athletes take advantage. Shaquan Brown 47.1, Mike Pachella 1:53.2, Byron Williams 4:15.0, Justin Gaymon 14.22 and 54.26, Yemi Ayeni 204-8, Renee Tomlin 2:10.5, Danielle Tauro 4:59.24 and 10:43.01 - quads by Krystal Cantey, La'Shonda Carter, and Leslie Njoku.
The weatherman gave New Jersy a break from the icy spring last weekend and, with the exception of a storm that breezed through late Friday afternoon, conditions were almost perfect for the first week of the state championships and the athletes responded in kind.
Top boys' marks for the weekend were as follows: 10.66 by newcomer Lindsey Shannon of Atlantic City in the 100, 21.77 by Jamar Cotton of Irvington in th 200, 47.1 by Shaquan Brown of Paterson Kennedy in the 400, 1:53.2 by Mike Pachella of Wallkill Valley in the 800; 4:15.0 by Byron Williams of Ridgewood in the 1600, 9:27.97 by Ben Massam of Chatham in ther 3200; 14.22 and 54.26 by Justin Gaymon of Phillipsburg in the high hurdles; 6-10 by Marshall Akins of Egg Harbor in the high jump; 15-6 by Anthony Abitante of Berkeley Heights in the pole vaultt, 23-0 and 47-0 by Shaun Adair of Morristown in the long jump and triple jump; 58-9 1/2 and a stunning 204-8 by Yemi Ayeni of South Brunswick in the shot put and discus throw; 199-0 by Rob Mahler of Brick in the javelin throw and 3:18.22 by Irvington in the 1600-meter relay.
This is not necessarily, however, a list of favorites for the all-group meet on June 8.. There are, obviously, the Parochial divisions this weekend to be considered: Bobby Papazian of Gill-St. Bernard’s remains the AG favorite in the 3200; there are also Parochial A favorite Michael Ray Garvin of Don Bosco who ran 10.51 and 21.46 on Tuesday at the Bergen Cty Meet of Champions) in the 100 and 200 and triple junp defender Tiquan Underwood of Notre Dame who won that event at 46-6 at Sunday's New Jersey Catholic Track Conference championships.
And not all of the winners last weekend went all the way out in easy victories. Among these were Robbie Novak of Bordentown in the 800, Craig Forys of Colts Neck, who ran 4:19.8 in the 1600, Danny Oquendo of Hackensack who had a 14.06 high hurdles at the Bergen meet, Sal Delhierro of Toms River East, the state's lone 60-footer in the shot put this year in the SP and the two 200-foot javelin throwers, Marion Easley of Somerville and Erik Heymann of Westwood. The high jump and triple are both wide open and the 1600-meter relay will as usual be a much different affair when the top teams concentrate their strength in the season’s final event at t he all-group meet.
The only four-time winner in the boys' sectionals was Anthony Pomo of Saddle Brook who helped his team reverse its county loss to Hasbrouck Heights by taking the 100, high hurdles and both horizontal jumps With teammate Chris Guerriero tripling the distances in that one, the Brook emerged as group favorite as well. Sprinter Rameik Jackson and Heymann give Westwood a similar edge as it tries to do in Group II what it did in Group I a year ago. Camden’s speed troops give it a big edge in Group III and, with long jumper Mike Turner returning to indoor form with a 22-10 1/2 victory last weekend, Phillipsburg should complete a perfect season and become Warren County’s first group champion in IV
With Notre Dame winning the NJCTC title without a full effort (Underwood in only two events), the Irish seem on their way to breaking CBA’s six-year streak in Parochial A, while the B division finds DePaul’s depth probably repeating against a challenge from Immaculate Conception.
Other triple winners at the sectionals included Brown in a sprint sweep, soph Joe Martinek of Hopatcong with an unusual combination of high jump, long jump and javelin throw, Bryant McCombs of Old Bridge with a sprint triple in Central Jersey Gr, IV that led a team win Orestes Medina of Palisades Park in the two 400s and triple jump and Will Brown of Palmyra in South Jersey Group I in the 100 and both hurdles.
If anything, the girls’ response to the good weather was even more impressive than the boys. A number of season’s bests were recorded in the various events and the sheer mass of fine performances promises a memorable AG meet, no matter what events the top girls select.
Tops for the day were freshman Ogechi Nwaneri of Columbia in the 100 at with an 11.85 heat), Toneisha Friday of Franklin in the 200 at 24.54, Symone O’Connor of Franklin in 400 at 55.19; Renee Tomlin of Ocean City in the 800 at 2:10.5, Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean in the 1600 at 4:59.24 and 3200 at 10:43.01 in a great duel with Katie Van Horn; Krystal Cantey of Winslow Twp in the hurdles at 14.33 and 1:00.12, Briana Gray of Haddon Heights in the high jump at 5-7, Julianne Toto of Middletown South in the pole vault at 12-0; Alaina Alfano of Hanover Park in the long jump at 18-8; Tabatha Haskins of Shawnee in the triple jump at 37-1/4, Danielle Dailey of Freehold Twp in shot put at 43-8 1/4, Veronica Myricks of Willingboro in CJ III at 135-4, Jessica Bandy of Raritan in CJ II at 137-3 and Piscataway in 1600-meter relay at 3:50.41.
But, as with the boys, this is hardly a complete list of solid AG contenders. Several top sprinters and 100M hurdlers, including Shavon Greaves of Lakewood and Trier Young of Neptune, were hand-timed at the sectionals and are not included in the above list. Janine Davis of Queen of Peace has to be the favorite in the 400 or 800, whichever she chooses. Tauro ran only the 1600 last year and, in any case, Leah Brogan of Msgr. Donovan will be a major factor in the 1600 (graduation will prevent her from staying around for the 3200 on JUne 8), as will Ennis in whichever race she chooses. All the jumps are up for grabs as are the weights, with the possible exception of the SP where Dailey had been consistently over 42 feet. And, like the boys, the relay will depend on the way the schools place their runners on June 8, though it should, in good weather, go below 3:50.
Three girls scored quads and a fourth picked up four golds with the help of a relay anchor. Cantey took the 200 and 400 in addition to her hurdle wins, a most impressive feat in a Gr. IV meet. La’Shonda Carter of Rahway led her team to the Central Jersey Group II crown as she won the 100, 200, 100-neter hurdles and high jump with a 5-6 in the latter. Leslie Njoku of McNair Academic finished up a season of quads---five in a row—winning the 400, 800, 400-meter hurdles and high jump in North jersey 2 Group I with a meet record of 1:01.96 in the 400-meter hurdles and near misses with 56.59 in the 400 and 2:16.88 in the 800. Michelle Smith of Teaneck added a relay anchor to a 400 and hurdles sweep as she led her team to the North Jersey 1 Group III title.
Several girls just miss a quad, notably Celedste Holder of Parsippany who swept the sprints in North jersey Group II and was two inches behind Alfano in the LJ as their neighboring schools had a seesaw battle, finally won by Hanover Park, 81 1/2-75.
This meet also produced the closest meet of the day, a 129-129 tie between Verona and host Whippany Park in Group I. Most of the other meets were runaways, but South Jersey Group II produced a zinger between Bridgeton and Haddonfield with the Bears finally prevailing, 127-116 1/3.
Jackson and Franklin also had quite a party in Central Jersey Group IV with the Jaguars winning, 115 1/2-92 1/2, but that verdict could be reversed in what should be the feature battle of the group meet. Columbia’s North Jersey 2 champs will be a third party to this one, but its title hopes probably lie in the future.
With Emily Sherrard back in form, Hopewell Valley is ready to tackle Wilson in Group III, while Group II has an opposite-ends-of-the state contest matching Indian Hills and Bridgeton. Group I looks wide open with any of half a dozen teams having a shot. The Parochial winners could be the one that dueled in the NJCTC meet, Pope John and Bishop Eustace, but defending Pingry will make the B meet very interesting.
One feature of the weekend was the number of girls who steppe dup successfully in distance. AS usual, Davis was the leader as she took on defending champ Brogan at the NJCTC meet, followed an even pace of 75-second laps, then kicked away to a 4:56.9 record.
Shavon Greaves of Lakdwood ran her first major 400 in the Central Jersey Group III meet, placing second to Tiffany Grant of Ocean Twp in 55.8. Grant, in turn, moved up to the 800 and finished third behin indoor 1600-meter Eastern champ Emily Sherrard of Hopewell Valley and Brittnee Bynoe of Willingboro 2:17.20. Tomlin ran her first majjor individual 1600 and won the South Jersey Group III race in 5:03.0.
There was also a shadow of the future over the weekend when, at the Spring Lake five-miler, eighth-grader Brianna Jackucewicz ran her first race in more than a year, placing fifth in 29:54.13, 57 seconds behind third-place Cheri (Goddard) Kenah, also making a "comeback following the birth of twins about 18 months ago.