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He's Back: Devon Bond Rejoins Jump Wars

May 24, 2007

By Ed Grant

The major item of news in the week before New Jersey began its three-stage state meet was the return of Devon Bond of Trenton.  The jumper had shared the indoor spotlight for boys with Craig Forys of Colts Neck, clearing 7-0 in the HJ, winning the Nike Indoor Nationals in that event, and also leading the nation for the better part of the season in the triple jump.

A stress fracture, which had first become a problem indoors, put him on the sidelines for the first eight weeks of the outdoor campaign.  But he returned at the Eastern Regional Relays on May 21 at Willingboro, winning the individual high jump at a (for him) modest 6-6.  That insured that he will be a factor as Trenton bids for its first Gr. IV title since the “golden year” of 1978, when Darrell Jeffress, Aubrey McKithen and Co. pulled off the impossible feat of winning the 1600R and 3200R at Penn within a period of less than 20 minutes with only one lineup switch.

That the present team could give veteran coach Al Jennings another hour in the sun was evident when they won the Mercer County title without Bond on May 12.  With Devon back in the lineup, the Tornadoes have a triple threat which no other team in the state can match:  sprinter Dean McCleese and hurdler Tykeen Fulton joining Bond as potential gold medalists in the Gr. IV meet.  And there is also soph Frank Thompson, who held the fort in the HJ while Bond was on the shelf, and has filled in on the 1600R team the spot left vacant when indoor star Devon Hill returned this spring to his first love, baseball.

While Bond was returning to action last weekend, Forys took a couple of days off to attend older brother Matt’s graduation at Bucknell.  Despite all the ensuing partying, Craig was back in form at the East Coast relays on May 21, running a 4:07.2 anchor 1600 to bring Colts Neck home ahead of Christian Brothers in a season’s best of 17:57.05 in the 6400M relay.

As usual this year, Forys was touched off well behind in this one, but soon moved up with the leaders as he ran a 2:05.5 first 800.  Then he really turned it on, completing his last lap under 60 seconds to win by 20 yards or so.  The reverse splits were in contrast to his earlier 4:04.4 anchor at Penn, where he went out fast and was unable to quite catch the leading Coatesville runner in the homestretch. (“We thought we would try it a little different this time,” said Coach Jim Schlentz after the race.)

The East Coast Relays, plagued by rain and cold the past few years, received a break this time and the athletes of both sexes responded with a number of season’s besst, even though disqualifications took three top teams out of the running.  The Trenton girls false-started in the shuttle hurdles, and the Roselle boys did the same in the boys event.  Pope John lost out when its first stick pass between the two 200M runners went out of the zone in the sprint medley.

Ridgewood’s girls got the evening off to a fast start when they won that shuttle hurdles race, without real opposition after Trenton’s d/q, in 1:00.77.  The distance medleys that followed saw Randolph join the state’s sub-12:00 club, as Kim Standridge ran a 4:54.3 anchor leg to catch next-door neighbor Roxbury in 11:58.43.  Roxbury, already under 12:00 finishing third at Penn, had three juniors on the longer legs who later came back to join a sophomore for a 9:18.28 3200R win.

\The boys’ DMR saw Gigi Gibilisco of Notre Dame, a strong candidate for the all-group 800 title this year, run a 3:05.2 opening 1200 leg which.  Combined with Guy Castranovo’s following 48.6 400, they left the rest of the field so far behind that it actually hurt the Irish time, as Gigi’s freshmen brother Jamie on the 800 and Luke Fischer on the anchor 1600 both ran several seconds behind their best.  They ran to qualify for the closing DMR at the Nationals.

Notre Dame’s absence from the sprint medley, which they had led indoors, did not hurt the event as two other parochial powers, Don Bosco and Union Catholic went at it in perhaps the night’s best race---not unusual for the event at this meet.  Sharif Webb, who had won the Bergen County A title two days earlier, and Brian Guterl, who had done likewise at the Union County meet. went at it and split the honors.  Don Bosco won in 3:27.39, but Guterl had slightly the faster split, 1:52.9 to 1:53.3.

This event also saw the welcome return to action, after a year’s absence, of Teaneck’s Tommy San George, who ran 1:56.0 in the second section of the event, only to lose out to Lacey soph Tom Pierson’s 1:54.9.

This was the first race since last spring for Tommy, who had even skipped the Bergen County meet last weekend, where the Teaneck sprinters returned in force, after missing the Penn Relays for disciplinary reasons.

The Highwaymen were at the East Coast Relays in force, running away with the 400R and 800R in county record times of 42.08---slightly off Camden’s time at Penn---and 1:26.78, which beat its own season’s best of 1:27.0 at the opening Kearny Relays.  With East Orange, the state’s top girls sprint relay team, taking the night off, honors were split between Jackson, which won the 400 in 48.81, and Trenton, which atoned for its SHR mishap with a 1:41.62 over visiting Mt. Vernon.

Ashley Higginson, who had, like Forys, skipped the Shore Conference meet, split even on the day, running a 2:11.7 anchor to bring the sprint medley home ahead of Pope John in 4:03.52, but losing out later in the 3200R to Roxbury as she ran 2:16.2.  In the SMR, Emily Carrollo ran 2:11.3 for Pope John, but it went for naught because of the earlier relay zone infraction.

Jackson posted a season’s best of 7:50.77 in the boys’ 3200R, but it could have been well under 7:50 but for the absence of Kris Carle, who took the night off after winning the 3200 at Saturday’s Shore Conference meet.

The meet ended with two rousing 1600R races.  Trenton survived an early bumping incident to win the girls’ race in 3:53.73, and Seton Hall rebounded from a dropped stick incident in the Essex County championships to score a come-from-behind victory over Parochial A rival Notre Dame in 3:18.69, with sophomore Clayton Parros running 48.3 on the third leg and senior Pat Blackie 47.7 on the anchor.

Individual action always takes second place at this meet, but Kristen Mahon of Notre Dame recorded a season’s best 1:00.48 in the 400H team race which saw Ridgewood post a winning total of 3:14.90, also best of the year.

The rival Eastern Regional meet boys’ action was dominated by the host Willingboro team, which won the 800R in 1:28.13, the 800M SMR in 1:30.87, the 1600R in 3:17.94 and the SHR in a season’s best of 59.10.  Trenton had a 42.63 win over Franklin in the 400R.  Individually, Hanif Kendrick of Franklin, indoor national champion, won the LJ at 23-6 3/4 and Donnell Hayden of Bordentown doubled the SP and DT.

On the girls’ side, Cherry Hill East ran away with the DMR in 12:14.05, anchored by Theresa Cattuna; Camden took the 1600R from Wilson in 3:54.97; and Wilson the 800M SMR in 1:47.58.  Individually, Shanna Campbell won the SP at 41-8 ½ and Kristen Batts of Marlboro the DT at 144-0.    

The array of local meets last week began on Tuesday, was interrupted by heavy rains on Wednesday, and was finally completed on Saturday with nine county titles at stake, along with the state prep meet and several South Jersey individual-only conference affairs.

The first to get its action finished was the state Prep B meet on Tuesday at Pingry, where the hosts won their fifth consecutive boys’ title and Stuart Country Day its sixth straight girls’ crown.  The most notable individual effort was a distance double for soph Doug Smith of Gill-St. Bernard’s at 4:21.8 and 9:38.5.

The A meet opened the next day at Peddie, but was interrupted by rain and completed on Thursday, which eliminated any contest for the boys’ title as St. Benedict’s had top athletes take a day off before the Essex County meet began on Friday.  Lawrenceville won both titles easily with soph Matt Gonzalez winning the boys’ 800 in 1:56.7 and Lauren Izard doubling the hurdles for the girls.  Joe McCloud and Brian Bucknor doubled for St. Benedict’s the first day;   

The chief victim of Wednesday’s storm was the Olympic Conference All-Star meet which got in only a handful of events with the others still unscheduled.  Eastern frosh English Gardner had a hand-timed 11.7 in the girls’ 100 and teammate Savli Gonnet a 10.4 in the boys.  Camden swept the IH events, Kamice Smith taking the girls at 1:04.7 and Sherman Goree the boys in 54.9.

On the other hand, the Wednesday postponement gave doublers at the distance-oriented Morris County meet a day off between races and Andrew Hanko of Trinity Christian responded with a pair of meet records, 4:14.26 in the 1600 and 9:11.26 in the 3200.  On the girls’ side, Kim Standridge of Randolph ran big negative splits (2:35/2:21) for a 4:56.48 1600 win, then surpassed that with a 72/62 in the 800 for a 2:14.90 win over frosh teammate Molly Higgins.  Lauren Penney of Roxbury was 3rd in the 1600 on Tuesday, then 4th in the 800 and first in the 3200 on Thursday, running 10:56.35 in the latter.

Randolph won a close boys’ race there from Hanover Park, the decision waiting till the last strides of the 1600R, where Iam Tamakloe held off Greg Pristell in 3:25.1.  Morris Hills lost any hopes when Aaron King, who set a TJ mark of 48 1 ¼ going against the wind on Tuesday, failed to score in either the LJ or DT.  Hanover Park continued its perfect season in the girls’ meet with Shadaya Bennett doubling the 400s on Tuesday in 58.02 and 1:04.68 and Diona Scala taking the 100H and TJ on Thursday.  Defending all-group sprint champ Ogechi Nwaneri continued her comeback from winter injuries with a double at 12.54 and 25.55, setting a 200 mark of 25.06 in the trials.

The Passaic County meet, also moved to Thursday, had a big breakthrough by Steve Abate of Wayne Valle,y who upset teammate Tony Salvatore in the 1600 in 4:15.87.  The Indians ran away with team honors in the boys’ meet and had a closer call against Lakeland in the girls.  State discus leader George Abyad of Passaic Valley doubled at 55-3 and 179-2 while, in the girls’ meet, soph Arianne Bakelmun of Wayne Hills doubled the distances in 5:15.20 and 11:26.85.

It makes little difference what day in the week they run in Sussex County these days; it always ends with a double win for Pope John---with the only question being which team will hit the highest total.  The girls did it this time, 183 to the boys’ 152.  Senior Lara Heigis and sophs Emily Carrollo and Sarah Bieganousky led the girls, Lara doubling the distances in 5:17.10 and 11:24.54, Emily taking the 400 in 57.24, placing 2nd in the 200 and anchoring a 4:03.77 relay win and Sarah setting a MR of 1:03.00 in the 400H.  Vicky Caruso of Wallkill Valley doubled the sprints with a 24.66 MR in the 200. Football star Jeremy Tucker doubled the sprints for the Pope John boys in 10.95 and 22.71.

The four-division Bergen County meet saw the Don Bosco boys and Ridgewood girls win the A division titles.  Cristina Law doubled for Ridgewood at 2:16.8 in the 800 and 1:03.9 in the 400H, Ann Polcari set a PV mark of 10-6 and Brooke Bogart returned to action with a 17-7 win in the LJ. (Yes, that Bogart family.) Amy Salek had a MR 56.6 in the 400 and her DMR teammates, Kesley Ramsey and Erin McKenna, took the distance events at 5:05.8 and 11:10.3.  Sharif Webb led the well-balanced Don Bosco team with a 1:53.9 win in the 800 and a 54.5 in the IH, while Dan Emont of Ridgewood tied Bob Keino’s MR of 9:15.8 in the 3200.

The boys’ D division produced an interesting sprint duel between Damon Merkerson of St. Mary’s, Rutherford, and Matt Bieszard of Midland Park.  Merkerson, like Tucker a Division I football prospect, took two out of three in record times, 10.7 in the 100 and 48.8 in the 400, while Bieszard set a mark of 22.0 in the 200.  Matt Lingam of Park Ridge tripled the distances.  New jumping star Chris Phipps of Lodi tripled in C at 6-2, 22-3 and 45-8.

Seton Hall soph Clayton Parros had a great weekend, tripling in 10.99, 22.00 and 48.06 to lead his team to a close win over Irvington in the Essex County meet.  But it took a win by Chris DiLorenzo in the closing DT to pull out the 82-74 victory after a dropped stick cost the Pony Pirates six to eight points in the 1600R, where Parros did not run.  St. Benedict’s distance star Brandon Jarrett doubled the distance in 4:22.47 and a MR 9:10.91.  The girls’ title went to Columbia, despite a triple by Northeastern-bound Porshe Giddings of East Orange who went 11.92 in the 100, 24.27 in the 200 and 57.14 in the 400.  Kentucky-bound Ashley Newby matched that for Columbia, taking the 400H, LJ and TJ.

Scotch Plains swept the Union County titles, Kyle Rowbotham leading the boys with a hurdles double, a second in the TJ and a leg on a third-place relay team and Carlaya Jones doubling the SP and DT for the girls.  Brian Guterl had a 1:54.7 800 win for Union Catholic, Rahdel Savage of Roselle set a TJ mark of 46-5 3/4 and Mike Alleman of Scotch Plains hit 59-6 in the SP.  Andrea Butler of Rahway doubled the girls’ sprints over Kesi Irvin of Kent Place in 12.0 and 25.3, and Katie McCafferty the distances for Oak Knoll in 5:08.3 and 11:20.7.

A major confrontation was avoided at the Shore Conference meet when Ashley Higginson of Colts Neck took the day off. (Craig Forys was also absent, as already noted.)  This left Danielle Tauro and Jillian Smith of Southern Ocean to coast to 1-2 finishes in the 800 and 1600 as their team ended Jackson’s reign, 95-88.  Tauro ran 2:13.72 and 5:02.46.  They then joined for a 3:55.83 win in the 1600R.  Shavon Greaves of Lakewood had a sprint double at 12.17 and 24.78, with Georgina Nembhard back in action for Neptune at 12.37 and 25.04.  Donna Alexander of Matawan had a record 38-9 1/2 in the TJ, DeAnne Hahn hit a season’s best of 45-8 in the SP and Kristen Batts of Marlboro a 152-4 in the DT.

The boys’ meet saw Monmouth win easily with Charles and Chris Cox going 1-2 in the 400 in 48.12 and 48.7.  Charles was also 2nd to Kerone Rhoden of Neptune in the 200 and 3rd in the 100 and Chris 2nd in the 400H where Manny Mayers of Lakewood scored one of his three victory with a record 52.31.  The Jackson trio of Monroe Kearns, Ryan Fenimore and Kris Carle took advantage of Forys’ absence to sweep the distance races.

Cinnaminson scored the upset of the weekend as it defeated Willingboro in the Burlington boys’ meet, 86-79, with distance stars Brian Tetrault and Matt Poskus each scoring doubles, Brian in the 1600 (at 4:19.81) and 3200 and Matt in the 800 (1:57.32) and IH.  Jusson Boyd doubled for the ‘Boro at 21.93 in the 200 and 14.25 in the HH.  The powerful Lenape team ran away with the girls’ meet with soph Miya Johnson featuring the victory with a season-leading 2:11.07 in the 800.  Anna Cook of Florence cleared 5-7 in the HJ.

Aaron Younger of Delsea, headed for Rutgers, had a big day at the Tri-County individual meet, setting a Royal Division record of 52.8 in the IH and running a 48.9 anchor as his tam set a 3:24.1 mark in the 1600R.  In the girls’ meet, Audrey Wilson of Deptford tripled the sprints in 12.0, 24.7 and 56.8, the last two meet records, and distance stars Amanda Goetschius of Delsea and frosh Chelsea Ley of Kingsway also set new marks of 5:03.4 in the 1600 and 10:44.9 in the 3200.