Jackson Memorial track runners make Meet of Champions

Jackson Memorial High School sent four boys’ track and field athletes to the 2019 NJSIAA Meet of Champions, which was staged on June 8 at Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus.

None of the Jaguars’ runners won state championships, but they all posted respectable showings.

Zachary Novak finished the 400-meter dash final in 50.95. Nicholas Mollica completed the 400-meter hurdles final in 55.43. Jake Mckown came in at 57.29 in the same event. And Collin McCarthy recorded a distance of 51-7.25 in the shot put final.

All four Jackson Memorial athletes qualified for the Meet of Champions with top 12 performances in those events at the NJSIAA Group 4 meet, which was held on May 31 and June 1 at Franklin High School in Somerset.

Together, they formed a solid core for a solid team. And they will all be back in 2020, too. Novak, Mollica, Mckown and McCarthy were all juniors in 2018-19.

They didn’t win any championships this spring, but they may be able to compete for them next spring.

“Just practicing every day, getting the steps right,” Mollica said of competing for titles.

Jackson Liberty High School also sent a bunch of runners to the Meet of Champions at Northern Burlington County Regional High School that day, though only one qualified individually.

Senior Joe DeVito placed 14th in the 400-meter hurdles event with a time of 55.43. He made the M of C by recording top five finishes in the event at the NJSIAA Group 3 meet on June 1 at Central Regional High School in Bayville and at the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional meet on May 25 at Liberty.

Three of DeVito’s teammates, senior Dylan Stinner, sophomore Tim Lentini and senior Chris Ditta, joined him at the Meet of Champions. Those three and DeVito qualified in the 4×800-meter relay event as a group. They placed ninth out of 21 teams with a finals time of 8:04.73.

Out of that group, though, only Lentini will be back next year. So the Lions will have some reinforcements to make.

Howell High School sent only one runner, junior Marisa Santamauro, to the Meet of Champions on June 8. She finished 16th in the girls’ high jump with a height of 5-4.

But the Rebels still enjoyed a nice season within their program. Three girls’ track and field athletes, junior Sarah Mullen, sophomore Bryanna Wilson and sophomore Evelise Morales, broke Howell records in 2019.

Mullen set a new program mark in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.41 on May 8 at Middletown High School North, in the Monmouth County championship meet. Wilson established a new Howell shot put standard with a distance of 43-1 on April 16 at Howell, in the Shore Conference’s A North Division championship event. And Morales set a long jump record by leaping a distance of 17-7 on May 8 in the Monmouth County meet.

All four of those runners, Santamauro, Mullen, Wilson and Morales, are on track to return next spring. They should give Howell a formidable lineup that can compete in the Shore Conference and maybe even beyond.