McIntyre, Figueroa claim MOC gold medals

McCombs finishes second in final scholastic 400


Staff Writer

PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Above, Old Bridge's Bryant McCombs (l) is just beaten to the line by Monmouth Regional's Charles Cox in the 400-meter the NJSIAAMeet of Champions on June 8 in South Plainfield. Below, Monroe's Nicole Ragucci nears the finish line of the girls' 400. PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Above, Old Bridge’s Bryant McCombs (l) is just beaten to the line by Monmouth Regional’s Charles Cox in the 400-meter the NJSIAAMeet of Champions on June 8 in South Plainfield. Below, Monroe’s Nicole Ragucci nears the finish line of the girls’ 400. On the state’s biggest stage, a pair of local athletes emerged as champions.South Brunswick’s Stephanie McIntyre and Old Bridge’s Jamaar Figueroa were two of a strong contingent of local track and field stars who made the trip up to South Plainfield for the Meet of Champions on June 8.

They were also the only ones to come home with gold medals.

McIntyre took home the triple jump title with a leap of 38-11.05, outdistancing Matawan’s Donna Alexander, who topped out at 37-07.75.

For McIntyre, who also finished 25th in the long jump (14-05.25), it was a brilliant conclusion to a junior season in which she emerged as one of the state’s top jumpers down the stretch.

With an MOC title now under her belt, any future success won’t come as a surprise to anyone.

McIntyre’s teammate, junior Indira Morton, also had a strong meet, finishing second in the javelin with a throw of 127-11 (North Highlands’ Julia Cohen won the event with a toss of 129-06), and 18th in the long jump (15-08.75).

As for Figueroa, he entered the discus competition as one of the favorites, and made that label stand up with a winning heave of 182-05, well beyond that of second-place George Abyad of Passaic Valley (173-07). He also placed sixth in the shot put with a 54-1 heave.

For Figueroa, a senior, the MOC title was a fitting swan song for what has been a stellar career at Old Bridge.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the meet came in the boys 400-meter event, where Old Bridge’s Bryant McCombs was making his final scholastic appearance as a member of the Knights.

McCombs wanted to repeat his successful formula from the NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions.

At the outdoor MOC last week, the Old Bridge senior, the defending champion in the 400, ran the same kind of race he had in winning the indoor MOC title – make the challengers chase him.

“It all went according to plan until the third 100,” said McCombs. “[Charles] Cox finished real strong.

“My goal was to make him chase me,” he added. “I went out a little harder, but he didn’t chase.”

While McCombs was tearing up the backstretch, Monmouth Regional’s Cox, who hadn’t raced against the Old Bridge sprinter since finishing behind him at the indoor MOC, was running his race. He didn’t get up in the speed chase in the first 200, while McCombs was running away from the field.

As McCombs came off the last turn, Cox, a junior, had caught him. It was going to come down to which of the state’s two best 400 runners would have the most left in the tank. With 50 meters to go, the answer was Cox.

The Monmouth Regional sprinter was able to nudge ahead ever so slightly, stopping the watch at 47.10 to McCombs’ 47.15.

It turned out that Cox had built his season around the final 100. He didn’t chase McCombs after his frantic opening 200, opting for a more balanced race that left him stronger for the stretch run.

“I’ve been concentrating all year on the end of the race, the last 100,” Cox pointed out.

It paid off, as the Falcon picked up his first MOC title.

For McCombs, it was the first loss of the season in his final individual race as an Old Bridge Knight.

“I’m ready for the next level,” said McCombs, who is going to run on the college level at Texas A&M. “Second in the state isn’t that bad.”

McCombs still had one race remaining for Old Bridge, the 4×400 relay. He anchored the Knights to a third-place finish (3:19.73). Paul Racioppi, Allan Lunkenheimer and Sean Davis ran the opening three legs for the Knights.

Perennial sprint power Willingboro won the 1,600 relay in 3:18.50.

Lunkenheimer also took fifth in the 400 (48.36), and is licking his chops at the thought of next season’s potential, now that his top competitor (and best friend), McCombs, is on to the next level.

But there were some other local competitors who came home with medals (the top eight finishers in each event received a medal).

The Knights’ Ken Cardullo was fourth in the javelin with a 184-2, while Brittany Gibbs took third in the triple jump (37-07).

Gibbs also ran the lead-off leg for the Knights’ fourth-place 4×400 relay team, with junior Jazmine Glover, senior Ashley Gonzalez and senior Cristine Marquez combining with her to run a 3:52.18. Camden won the event in 3:47.55, while South Brunswick’s girls (McIntyre, Rebecca Russo, Eve Mizerak and Boynton) finished 19th in 4:03.4.

For South Brunswick, senior Justin DelPiano was third in the pole vault, clearing the bar at 14-00, while Yesenia Boynton took sixth in the girls 400 in 56.77.

Among the other locals to compete at the MOC were Monroe sophomore Nicole Ragucci (17th in the 200, 25.95); Sayreville’s Lynn Mayer (16th in the high jump, 5-02); East Brunswick’s Evelyn Sha (26th in the high jump, 5-0); and Old Bridge’s Matt Ciambriello (19th in the 3,200, 9:30.72) and Allyson Cardullo (29th in the javelin, 92-07).

– Tim Morris contributed to this story