FRANKLINVILLE -- This has certainly been the year for the juniors of the Delsea Regional High School boys running program.
Earlier in the year, the team started by giving cross country head coach Ron Deckert his first-ever sectional win.
Now after a hard-fought battle and a last minute push by Deptford, the juniors have given track head coach Ron Flaimm his first Group III sectional title since 2007. The Crusaders also won a state title in 2010, but the team was in Group II.
“This one is special because we haven’t won in a while,” said Flaimm. “We’ve come close quite a few times but always came up short. It was nice to really get over the hump. It feels very good. It’s even more special to win on our turf. This is our first year hosting (the sectional meet) and our maintenance guys, our AD Ken Schoudt, our trainer Kevin Briles, we had so much help the whole weekend. This was really special. It’s been the whole school, not just the track team."
Coming into Saturday’s portion of the weekend, Delsea already had 66 points and a 36 point lead over then-second place Central and a 41 point lead over eventual-second place finisher Deptford. Delsea ended with 113 total points to Deptford’s 92.
“We looked at the events and the way they were ordered, so we knew that Deptford would do (on Saturday) what we did (on Friday),” said Flaimm. "We didn’t tell the kids the score, because you know (Deptford) is going to come in and do well. We just focused on what we were doing and we ended up having a perfect meet.”
This win didn’t come for Delsea by the way of a lot of first-place finishes, earning just three on the day including two by junior Khaliel Burnett in the long jump (21 feet 8 inches) and the triple jump (45 feet 7 inches). Michael Szwed was the only other Crusaders to win a first place, taking the crown in the 400 dash with a time of 50.23 seconds.
“Coming up with the triple jump title was huge,” said Burnett. Once I heard (my opponent) say he needed a 45 feet’, I just thought ‘I need to hit bigger then that.’ I just got it done. I hope next week to win a state title. I’ve been wanting to win since my freshman year."
In fact, the team cleaned up in the fourth, fifth and sixth place category earning thee of each at fourth and fifth and four sixth-place finishes. The team also had nine additional top three finishes in second and third place.
“Every point counts and they know that,” said Flaimm. “We try to give them a good idea while they are out there of who they are out there with. The kids know each other by this point in the year, so if you know that you are out there with three kids you can’t beat, fourth place points are better than no points. Winning is not always possible but the seconds, the thirds and even the fifths count.”
Deptford set a new record in the 4x100 when the team finished with a time of 42.25, that was good enough to beat the 2014 Delsea score of 42.86. The team also beat their own South Jersey sectionals time of 42.41 last year.
“It’s great and it’s always a plus,” said Deptford head coach Kevin Sherry. “Our goal was to just get through. It’s not our fastest time of the season, but we got through, so we are happy with that but to find out it’s a record, that’s nice too.”
“It’s really great (to set the record),” said Deptford senior Mar’Quel Davis, who won the 100 dash with a time of 10.65 and 200 dash with a time of 21.71. “We came in with a great group of guys that has the potential to be faster than last years’ team. Our goal was to get the stick around and run our race as usual. We also wanted to have fun and we did that for sure.”
Jahaud Lowber brought home the goal in the high jumps for Deptford at 6 feet 4 inches.
Winslow’s Jamil Adams picked up the win in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.48 and the 400 hurdles with a time of 53.59, Highland’s Yarayah Hawkins took the 1600 at 4:24.49. Timber Creek edged Deptford for the 4x400 with a time of 3:24.75 to the Spartan’s 3:24.75 while Highland took the 4x800 with a time of 8:04.64.
Hammonton’s Philip Iuiuicci was first at 1:57.90, while Timber Creek’s Alexander Georio won the javelin at 189 feet 4inches.
In Group 2 action, Cinnaminson dominated from start to finish to win its first title since 2003.
“It’s good for the kids that have been working hard for this all along,” said Cinnaminson head coach Dan Forney. “We had kids like Frank Stepnowski, who finished in all throwing running events and he just stepped up. The boys had a lot of big pr’s this weekend, it was good to see.”
“This is amazing,” said Cinnaminson senior Mike Ungvarsky. “This is what we have been training for since March. We had a chance to tie Haddonfield during indoor and it’s nice to carry momentum. We haven’t won outdoors in a long time. This was needed for the culture.”
Like Delsea, the Pirates also got off to a commanding lead on Friday night, something Forney says helped the team immensely.
“It was a huge relief to be up in case something didn’t go our way,” said Forney. “We had a kid miss out on qualifying for the discus, so it was nice to have the buffer.”
Big points for the Pirates came from Mike Ungvarsky in the 1600, where he finished at 4:23.16 for third place as well as winning the 4x800 with a time of 8:10.57. Cinnaminson also swept the shot put going first-second and third. Karmon Kobolak was first at 55 feet 6 inches, followed by Mateus Mederious in second and Stepnowiki in third.
“The shot put is something the kids were talking about and it was nice to see,” said Forney. “It doesn’t happen often so it was nice to see they went all in for it. Nice couple of big wins. The 4x800 was also a surprise. The kids might have thought they were going to win, but I didn’t. It was a nice win for them.”
“We were seeded to go 1-2-3 but we had a small issue with one of our teammates,” said Kobolak. “This is practice every day for us. We have been doing this for six months now. We bought into the program, the schedule, the workouts, everything. We worked up to this moment and it worked out for us.”
Cedar Creek’s Bo Melton brought home the title in the 100 dash with a time of 10.85 and the 200 dash (21.90) while Haddonfield’s Spencer Flores brought home the title in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.89. Teammate Derek Gess won the 800 with a time of 1:56.94. Jahaad Beckford of Willingboro won the 400 hurdles with a time of 56.34. Pleasantville won the 400 finals at 49.79 and the 4x100 (43.56).
Zach Bates covers sports for South Jersey Sports Digest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ZachBatesSJSD and follow SJ Sports Digest @sjsportsdigest.