District athletes smash records at county meet

Colts Neck girls win team title

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY staff Freehold Township's Christine Menhart means business as she competes in a 400-meter intermediate hurdles qualifying race on Wednesday at Neptune High School.CHRIS KELLY staff Freehold Township’s Christine Menhart means business as she competes in a 400-meter intermediate hurdles qualifying race on Wednesday at Neptune High School. Freehold Township’s Janel Parker has become a feared late-race kicker, and you can blame it on the finish line.

There’s something about it that gives the Patriot distance runner that extra push.

“I’m excited to finish, and I want to give whatever I have on the track,” she said. “Adrenaline takes over.”

Parker’s dash to the finish line on Saturday not only brought her the Monmouth County 800 meter title, but Freehold Regional District and meet records on top.

The Patriot junior flew by pace-setter Christina Nelson in the homestretch to win in 2:14.26.

A week ago, Parker was second at the Freehold Regional District Championships behind Freehold Borough’s Elise Tagatac, who turned in a District record 2:15.7. She did it by taking the lead early and holding off Parker’s kick. Parker wasn’t going to let that happen this time and had a little help from Nelson, who did the pace-setting.

“I wanted to take it out quick and hold on,” said Parker. “When Nelson took the lead, it was the perfect race for me.”

Parker positioned herself in front of Tagatac this time, while Nelson did the pace-setting and took the field through a quick first quarter in 65 seconds.

Nelson, Parker, Tagatac and Colts Neck’s Ashley Higginson were bunched together with 250 meters remaining. Higginson, knowing she didn’t have the finishing speed of those in front of her, made her move for victory.

“When Ashley picked it up, I said, ‘It’s time to go’ and give whatever I had,” said Parker.

What she had was enough to speed away from one of the most talented 800 meter fields the county has seen, with the top five runners all getting under 2:20.

Tagatac was third this time in 2:16.94 and Higginson was fourth in a personal best 2:17.74. Second-place Nelson, the indoor Meet of Champions runner-up, also pb’d in 2:15.99.

“I just really wanted it,” Parker said of her race. “It’s something I’ve worked hard for.”

Her 2:14.26 not only topped Tagatac’s District mark, but clipped the old meet record of 2:14.35 set by Red Bank Regional’s Katy Trotter, who has gone on to an All-American career at Stanford University.

Parker’s District and meet record run was just one of many record efforts turned in by District athletes at the two-day meet held at Neptune High School.

The championships were also a tour de force for the Colts Neck girls, as they resoundingly proved they have the county’s best collection of talent. The Cougars were everywhere, scoring big in the sprints and hurdles, the distances, as well as in the field. They scored 88 points to outdistance Ocean Township (70.5), which relied on its star power of Georgina Nembard and Tiffany Grant.

Ashley Higginson did yeoman work on the track, winning the 1,600 meters on Wednesday in 5:56.47, an outdoor personal best and Cougar record for her. On Saturday, she came back and took fourth place in that spectacular 800 and then ended the day winning the 3,200 in 11:14.08, on cruise control the entire way.

Meryl Wimberley paced the sprinter/hurdlers, lowering the Freehold District record (58.6 by Howell’s Ellen Woods) in the 400 meters to 58.01 in finishing second to Grant (55.70). Teammate Kathlyn Herrick was third (59.53), also breaking 60 seconds.

In the 200, the Cougar was sixth (26.47).

Wimberley ran the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay team that turned in the best time of the finals, 4:03.06. Herrick ran the opening leg and was followed by Julia Tomaro and Samantha Santo.

Herrick and Tomaro were third (1:07.52) and fourth (1:07.99) in the 400 hurdles.

Remaining on the track, Briana Jackucewicz was third in the 1,600 (5:02.72) and Allie Flott was fifth in the 3,200 (11:40.10).

Jessica Pagliano isn’t your prototype high jumper at 5-4, but her coach, Joe Lykes, said that she is technically the best he’s seen. Considering he coached four-time Meet of Champions winner and current Duke University star Debra Vento, that’s saying a lot.

Pagliano proved her coach’s point by adding the outdoor title to her indoor crown as she won with a 5-4. She has done 5-6 this year.

“My form has been more consistent, and I’ve been weight lifting,” said Pagliano of her improvement from 5-0 last year to 5-6.

Her ability to make adjustments on the fly helps as well. She would like to get to 5-8 this spring.

Pagliano took second in the long jump (15-11 1/2), while teammate Lauren Rappleyea was sixth in the long jump (15-4 1/4). Rappleyea was also fifth in the high jump (4-10.

Colts Neck’s cross country success (ranked 16th in the country) has justifiably given the track team a reputation for its distance running prowess. But, as sprinters/hurdlers like Wimberley, Herrick and Tomaro, and Pagliano in the jumps proved, the Cougars are a complete team. And the bad news for everyone else: all the point scorers are returning next year.

The individual record-breaking got started on the first day of competition, Wednesday.

Manalapan’s Adam Hegel would have won the long jump competition with his 21-9 3/4. But on his final jump, the Brave senior reached 22-5 3/4, breaking the 22-1 mark that he had shared with former Brave Joe Taylor.

Marlboro’s super freshman Ada Unachukwu destroyed the District, county and conference triple jump records with just one leap. Her first attempt of the day was measured at 38-10 1/2. Since she was qualifying for both the 100 and 200 finals, she didn’t take another jump in the qualifying rounds. She came back for the finals and didn’t need to jump there, as former meet and country record holder Alexander of Matawan got no closer than 35-10.

Unachukwu broke the District record of 35-9 set by Howell’s Devon Barnett.

The Marlboro frosh would finish second to Nembard in the 100 (11.95-12.44) and third in the 200 (25.55).

The record onslaught continued Saturday, beginning with Parker and Wimberley.

Manalapan’s Kristin Andrews equaled the District record in the 400 intermediate hurdles, as she ran down rival Jamie Leacock. Andrews, a junior, was clocked in 1:05.04 in his victory, an automatic timing equaling or better than the hand-held 1:05.0 run by Freehold Borough’s Rona Henderson.

Justin Frick’s high jumping talents are well known; after all, he is the defending outdoor Meet of Champions winner. He’s now gaining a reputation in the triple jump. He set a meet record in winning the Freehold District title last week and came back on Saturday to claim the

Freehold District record with a 44-4 3/4 that got him a second place behind Middletown South’s Knowshon Moreno (44-9 1/4). Frick topped the old mark set just this year of 43-4 by Colts Neck’s Evan Stivala. Hegel turned in his best jump ever, 43-11 1/2, and took third.

Freehold Township’s Derric Harris (41-8 1/2) and Marlboro’s Dmitriy Makovkin (41-8 1/2) were fifth and sixth.

Frick defended his high jump championship, matching his season’s best of 6-8.

Manalapan’s Jon Gilburn (6-2) was third and his teammate Dunell Ridore (5-10), was sixth.

Howell’s Ben Edwards didn’t set a record in the intermediate hurdles, but he confirmed that he’s the county’s best and well on his way to being one of the best in the state. He lowered his personal best to 54.38 in coming from behind to claim his first Monmouth County title.

“Ray (Davis of Monmouth Regional) took off, and that surprised me,” said Edwards. “I knew I had to run as hard as I can as long as I could. I worked hard for this.”

Edwards has lowered his time at every 400 hurdles race this spring, but admits it’s getting harder to shave seconds off his mark. Faster times will come, he said, at the start of the race. That’s the section of the race he needs to work on more.

Edwards was third in the 110 hurdles (14.97) and anchored the Rebels’ 1,600-meter relay team to a fifth place (3:31.44). David Hayes, Francisco Bueno and Jason Leacock ran the first three legs.

Colts Neck’s Craig Forys won his third straight 1,600 title on Wednesday, running 4:19.10.

On Saturday, indoor MOC champion Tom Friscia of Red Bank Regional surprised him in the 800. Friscia ran an opening 400 in 56.1 and then had enough left to cover Fory’s late kick. Forys ran a 1:55.31. in the loss.

“I’m happy with my time,” he said. “I’m still learning how to run the race.”

Howell’s and Marlboro’s girls finished third behind Colts Neck and Ocean with 43 points each.

The Rebels got a third and fourth place in the 3,200 from Lauren Rome (11:35.58) and Lindsey Lambert (11:37.9).

Kellee Hand finished sixth in the 1,600 by winning her unseeded section in a fast 5:07.4.

In addition to her second place in the 400 hurdles, Leacock was fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.98).

Anna DiPaolo and Brittany Napoli had second places for the Rebels. DiPaolo was runner-up in the shot put (34-2 1/2), while Napoli was second in the javelin (127-9). Napoli was also fifth in the discus (101-0).

Howell’s 1,600 meter relay team of Hand, Jessica Johnson, Leacock and Lauren Wiemken, was fifth in 4:12.97.

In addition to Unachukwu, the Mustangs had a second county champion in Kristen Batts.

The top seed going into the meet, Batts left everyone behind with her 121-05 in the discus. Batts also picked up points in the shot put with a sixth place (33-0).

Jenna Meagher was second in the pole vault for the Mustangs at 9-6.

Freehold Township hurdlers Sean Coyne and Paul Proctor medaled in their events – Coyne was fourth, one place behind Edwards in the 110 hurdles (15.09), while Proctor ran fifth in the 400 hurdles (57.42). Coyne and Proctor were joined by Greg Hager and Bill Moody and placed sixth in the 1,600 relay (3:32.02).

Colts Neck sprinter Mike Moore was sixth in the 100 (11.22).

Manalapan’s Mike Goldwasser was sixth in the pole vault (12-6). Craig Stivala was fifth in the long jump (21-0 1/2) and Howell’s Mike Rupp, sixth (20-10 3/4). John Krewer of Colts Neck was sixth in the shot put (48-4) and fourth in the discus (137-2).

His brother, Brenden Krewer, was fourth with a personal best 1:58.54 in the 800. Manalapan frosh Rob Andrews was fifth in that 800 with his own pb, 1:58.81.

Tanika Peart of Freehold Township was third in the girls 100 meters (12.55).

Blair Hassel, Freehold Borough, was sixth in the girls javelin (106-6), Freehold Township’s Allyson Moskal was sixth in the 400 (1:00.88) and Manalapan’s Kim Dale was sixth in the triple jump (32-10 1/4).

Up next for the area track and field athletes are the Shore Conference Championships Friday and Saturday at Neptune High School.