Knights finally get their Group IV title


Staff Writer

It’s hard to believe that with all the success the Old Bridge boys track program has enjoyed over the years, the Knights had never been crowned Group IV champions.

That only makes this year’s team all the more special, as the Knights, led by the incomparable Bryant McCombs, captured that elusive title last weekend in Egg Harbor Township.

The Knights got points from six different competitors over the two-day event, to total 44 points, well ahead of Phillipsburg and Randolph, who tied for second with 32 points, and South Brunswick, who finished a distant fourth with 27 points.

McCombs added to his legend with another dominant performance at the Group IV championship meet, winning both the 200 and the 400.

The win in the 400, held on Friday, was somewhat bittersweet for the junior speedster, as JFK-Paterson’s Shaquan Brown, basically the only competitor capable of keeping up with McCombs, missed the race. He was in the bathroom when the gun went off.

That left McCombs disappointed, as he admittedly had been looking forward to this showdown for most of the season. He still managed to beat the field, in a blazing 48.5 seconds, but it wasn’t as satisfying a victory as it could have been.

But on Saturday, McCombs got his opportunity to go head-to-head with Brown, and took advantage of it, beating the JFK speedster in the 200, 21.55 to 21.63.

The two were expected to battle it out once again yesterday at the Meet of Champions, though just in the 200.

McCombs also helped lead the Old Bridge 4×400 relay team to a third-place finish (3:22.04), qualifying the Knight quartet for yesterday’s MOC. Allan Lunkenheimner (50.5), Paul Racioppi (51.3) and Nick Carbone (51.4) ran the first three legs for Old Bridge, and gave the squad enough of an edge over JFK-Paterson so that another McCombs-Brown showdown was not in the cards. McCombs ran a 48.2 anchor split, while Brown made up some ground with his 47.5 anchor split.

The Knights also got some valuable points from Jamaar Figueroa, who took second in the discus with a personal best 168-5, and Ken Cardullo, who was third in the javelin with a personal best 183.10.

Both of those competitors were ready for yesterday’s MOC, while Lunkenheimer was also expected to race in the 400, where he finished fourth on Friday (50.30).

But the Old Bridge athletes weren’t the only local athletes to shine at the Group championships.

With anyone finishing in the top six at the Group championships advancing to yesterday’s Outdoor Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High School, a pair of other familiar names made news over the weekend.

South River’s A.J. Parillo continued his stellar spring campaign, advancing to the MOC in two events — the 100, where he took fifth in Group I with a time of 11.83, and the long jump, where he took fourth (20.5 feet).

Parillo had also hoped to compete in the 400, but some confusion over a misplaced card (which is placed on his hip), kept him out of the race. South River coaches complained to NJSIAA officials, hoping that Parillo would get a wild card entry into the MOC.

East Brunswick’s Steve Schreyer also qualified for the MOC by taking sixth in the pole vault at the Group IV meet, clearing the bar at 13-6.

Spotswood’s Peter Duffy took third in the Group II shot put, reaching 49-6 1/4.

On the girls’ side of things, Old Bridge’s Christine Marquez qualified for the MOC after taking sixth in the 400 (59.06) on Friday. She was joined in South Plainfield by teammate Brittany Gibbs, who took fourth in the triple jump (34.5).

The Lady Knights’ 4×400 relay team took fourth in Group IV, as the quartet of Sylvia Pilawa, Nailah Pile, Gibbs and Marquez stopped the clock at 3:56.0.

Over in the Non-Public A, held at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, St. John Vianney’s Jackie Christie captured the Girls’ Non-Public A triple jump for the second straight year, eclipsing her own meet record. Christie’s 36-0 1/2 topped her 2004 mark of 34-7.

SJV’s Jen Therkorn led the other Lancers who qualified for today’s MOC action by finishing third in the Non-Public A 800 (2:18.30).

The other Lancers who extended their seasons were sprinter Jessica Loftus (sixth in the 200 in 27.10) and triple jumper Danielle Christie (fourth at 33-0).

Among the other local performers who qualified for the MOC via wild cards were Old Bridge’s Chris Bezeg (1,600 and 3,200), Ashley Gonzalez (100), Marquez (400), and Gibbs (triple jump), Sayreville’s Lynn Mayer (high jump), and East Brunswick’s Greg Bull (1,600 and 3,200).

Ayeni, Hill continue their dominance

There may not be a better one-two punch anywhere in the state than South Brunswick’s Yemi Ayeni and Prescott Hill.

While Ayeni garners most of the attention, and deservedly so for his dominance in the discus, Hill has quietly put together a tremendous career of his own.

Ayeni is the defending MOC champion, and made himself the favorite once again this year by winning the Group IV title with a throw of 197-5. Though it was short of his previous best throws from this season, it was still good enough to give him the gold.

And while Old Bridge’s Figueroa took second with his throw of 168-5, there was Hill in third with a 160-8.

The discus title was Ayeni’s second win of the competition, having already won the shot put on Friday with a distance of 58-9, well ahead of the second-place distance of 54-4.

But a look further down the results reveals a familiar name — Prescott Hill. Hill took sixth in the shot put with a throw of 51-2.

North Brunswick’s Erin Folger also collected a gold medal at the Group IV meet, winning the javelin with a mark of 127-3, the same measurement that won her the Central Jersey title the week before.