Braves ride balance, depth to A North title

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Manalapan made it official. The Braves are the 2006 Shore Conference A North Division public school boy’s track and field champions.

Jim Tweed’s squad wrapped up the outright title with an 83-57 win at Ocean Township on May 8.

Cody High (100-200) and Adam Hegel (long jump, high jump) each won two events to pace the Braves to the division crown. They finished the dual-meet season with a 5-1 mark.

Derek Sammack (400), Rob Andrews (800), Joe Kreppein (1,600), George Quintano (400 intermediate hurdles), Mike Goldwasser (pole vault) and Jack Gilburn (high jump) were the other first-place finishers in the title clincher.

It was Manalapan’s win over defending champion Freehold Township, 76.5-63.5, in a trimeet on May 1, that set the Braves up for the championship. It clinched no worse than a co-championship awaiting the season-ending meet at Ocean. The Braves were not in a mood to share the title in Ocean, and came home as the outright champions.

For Manalapan, the win at home over Freehold Township, which included a 120.5-119.5 victory over Marlboro as well, couldn’t have been sweeter.

“Freehold Township has a great program, and it’s [A North] been between them and us the last three years,” said Tweed. “They got us the first two years. They brought the best out in us. It was an overall team win.”

Hegel dominated the jumps for the Braves, sweeping the high jump (6-0), long jump (21-1 3/4) and the triple jump

(42-6 3/4).

Ben Shappee gave the team a big boost, winning the shot put (40-3) and discus (123-3). Brett McCarron gave Manalapan a sweep of the throwing events, winning the javelin (147-8). The Braves collected 21 of the 27 points in the throwing events, and when you factor in Hegel’s sweep of the jumps and Mike Goldwasser’s win in the pole vault (12-0), the Braves carried a big edge over to the track.

Sprinter/hurdlers Sean Coyne (100-200), O’Shane Rennie (110 high hurdles) and Paul Proctor (400 intermediate hurdles) collected wins, as did Chris Ernst (800) to close the gap on the track for the Patriots. But Manalapan got wins from Goldwasser (400) and Andrews (1,600) to stay ahead.

Manalapan was able to finally get over the hump against the Patriots by matching the advantage the Pats usually enjoyed in numbers.

“We put together overall depth,” said Tweed.

In addition to Hegel, Gilburn usually finished second to him in the three jumps. Shappee proved to be a clutch thrower, winning the shot put on his last throw in three of the team’s meets.

Quintano and Jack Goldberg came up big in the sprints and hurdles, as the Braves went without standouts Alex Baker and High for most of the season. Their return served to make the team even stronger. Frosh Andrews leads the distance corps, and he is quietly having a freshman season that is second only to Colts Neck’s Craig Forys in District annals. He’s run a 4:28 1,600 meters already.

This weekend, the Braves will be focused on the Shore Conference Championships being held at Neptune High School on Friday and Saturday.