WEST DEPTFORD TWP.— Many of South Jersey’s greatest female runners came into West Deptford High School looking to claim a title for their respective teams Saturday.
Whether it was defending the title, reclaiming the title or winning the first title in a number of years, one thing was for sure, there was no lack of excitement as Schalick, West Deptford, Winslow and Kingsway high schools all brought home a 23rd Annual West Deptford Relays title in their respective group.
Following a four-year drought, Schalick used its strong distance team to lead the way to victory in Division I.
“It really shows the kind of depth we have as a school,” said Cougars head coach Darren Harris. “With Penns Grove losing a lot of their seniors, it kind of opened the door wide open for us. Our depth is really what came through. Before we were getting fifth and sixth in distance and today we had second and thirds, so that is the main difference.”
Sophomore Olivia Gerstenbacher added that the team is much stronger than last season.
“It’s fun to win this year because we weren’t really as strong last year,” said Gerstenbacher, who anchored the 4x1600 and the sprint medley relays. “We are growing depth in all the events. The distance team is really coming together. The team is really coming together in every event. We are solid as a team and we are getting better. I am really proud of the progress.”
Schalick took four events on the track and two field events while placing in all nine track races. The team added three second-place finishes in the victory.
This is the second straight victory for the Cougars after capturing first at the Buena Relays last weekend.
“I came into the season knowing we had a good chance to win the Buena Relays,” said Harris. “With the win here, we are still kind of on-par. We still have a lot to do. We have accomplished a lot with undefeated relays, but we still have a long way to go. It is still early.”
Much like the Cougars, West Deptford and head coach Bob Cooper were riding a victory at the Camden/Gloucester Relays. This weekend, serving as host, the Eagles wanted to bring home their first title in over 10 years.
Four first-place finishes across the board helped the team hoist the Division II trophy and gave them the chance to douse their coach with the water jug.
“After the win last week, we were really pumped up to come out here and win this meet,” said senior Zoe Shannon, who took first in the high jump at 4 feet, 4 inches and was a member of the winning triple-jump team, jumping 27-9.5. “Especially at our relay, we wanted to come out here and win it.
“We have been looking forward (to dumping the water on coach) for a while. Since we were here, we wanted celebrate.”
Cooper wanted to make sure every single one of his seniors were in the meet. To win it with them was a bonus.
“It’s super (to win out here for the seniors),” said Cooper. “They are all working hard. The seniors are great. Every senior was in the meet today. They are a pleasure. It is one of the best groups of seniors that I have ever had. To have them for four years and not win anything and now winning two in a row, it’s special.”
With Millville moving on to the Lenape Invitational and a strong showing during indoor season, it seemed as if Kingsway had the opportunity to reclaim its Division IV title at West Deptford.
Five first-place finishes later, the Dragons are now winners three out of the last four years at the relays.
“It’s special to win this,” said Kingsway head coach Curtis Custis. “A lot of coaches around South Jersey think that this is one of the most prestigious relays because it focuses on the overall team. How deep is your team?”
Absegami and Egg Harbor Township fought to stay in the race, but it wasn’t enough against a strong Dragons squad that featured the day’s Most Valuable Runner, Thalia Cooper.
That title was perfect for the senior, as she came back from third place to help her 4x400 team earn the victory in 4:13.46.
“It means a lot (to win the award), because everything I do, I do for my team,” she said. “I love them so much. They are best team in the world. It’s my last year here, so it is bittersweet, but I am happy I can bring this award home and we can put this under our belt as a team.”
“I focus on leadership,” Custis said. “My biggest thing this year has been trying to find leaders to lead our team. In years past I would select the captains the first week of the season, but I told them I can’t do that this year. In years past, they went south.
"So this year, focusing on leadership, they have stepped up. The way she trained with the other five girls, who I have chosen as captains, have proved to me they are ready to step up and take this team to the next level."
In Division III, Winslow repeated as champion, topping Ocean City, Timber Creek and Delsea.
“It means a lot to defend because we defended a completely different way,” said Winslow head coach George Horne. “A lot more events were covered. We lost some stars, but all the new kids are picking up.”
Deptford’s Kiara Lester was named the Jumper of the Meet while Burlington Township’s Ronetta Hunter earned Thrower of the Meet honors after taking first in the discus (115-6), javelin (113-10) and Shot put (43-7).
“I am truly proud of myself and my team,” Hunter said, who also set a personal record in the javelin, her least favorite event. “We came out and we conquered. We did an amazing job today.”
Zach Bates is the track beat writer for South Jersey Sports Digest. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZachBatesSJSD.
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Track Athlete of the Meet: Thalia Cooper, Kingsway
Thrower of the Meet: Ronetta Hunter, Burlington Twp.
Jumper of the Meet: Kiara Lester, Deptford
Group I: Team Champion: Schalick, 112.
4x1600 Relay: Pitman, 23:42.68 (Stephanie Salvatico, Megan Gipe, Sarah Meighan, Hannah Vendetta).
3x400 Intermediate Hurdle Relay: Alexia Lee (Schalick), 1:11.44. Team- Schalick, 3:40.76 (Lee; Avery Bramell, 1:14.17; Alexis Richards, 1:15.45).
4x100 Relay: Haddon Heights, 52.14 (Ayanna Wright, Zianis Bob-Gray, Kailah Johnson, Shannon Hannah).
Distance Medley Relay: Haddon Twp., 13:36.07 (Ellie Lacey, Kateryna Swan, Kayla Straubmuller, Annika Merkh).
4x100 Shuttle Hurdle: Schalick, 1:15.92 (Avery Bramell, Alexia Lee, Eva Lenchitz, Josephina Koomson).
4x200 Relay: Schalick, 1:50.32 (Taylor Ismail, Tiernny Wiltshire, Elyssa Johnson, Josephina Koomson).
4x800 Relay: Pitman, 10:27.06 (Alyssa Sanders, Megan Gipe, Sarah Meighan, Hannah Vendetta)
Sprint Medley Relay: Haddon Twp., 4:26.65 (Victoria Duva, Cara Dougherty, Kateryna Swan, Annika Merkh)
4x400 Relay: Schalick, 4:20.30 (Paige Nelson, Avery Bramell, Alexis Richards, Alexia Lee).
Discus: Allison Reuter (Clayton). Team- Riverside, 259.21 (Rebecca Perry, 91-11; Ana Catarina Pereira, 87-05; Kelli George, 81-05).
Javelin: Alyssa Whipkey (Pennsville), 128-07. Team- Pennsville (Whipkey; Megan Saxvanderweyden, 124-05; Jenna Wyshinski, 108-04.).
Shot Put: Ayanna Wright (Haddon Heights), 34-10.25. Team- Haddon Heights, 92-05.25 (Wright; Jalen Cook, 32-01; Hannah Carr, 25-06).
Long Jump: Shakira Burgess (Paulsboro), 15-04.25. Team-Schalick, 41-05.75 (Taylor Ismail, 14-05.50; Lydia Hall, 13-10.25; Grace Brown, 13-02).
Triple Jump: Ke’Nda Nesmith (Riverside), 31-04.50. Team- Pitman, 82-00.50 (Anna Hopkins, 28-03.76; Sara Trimble, 27-00.75; Madison Shalaway, 26-08.00).
High Jump: Lydia Hall (Schalick), 4-08. Team- Schalick, 13-00 (Hall; Alexis Richards, 4-04; Tiernny Wiltshire, 4-00).
Pole Vault: T- Ceceila Sharp and Jessica Rumpp (Schalick), 6-00. No team.
Group II: Team Champion: West Deptford, 99
4x1600 Relay: Delran, 24:42.14 (Mariah Tattory, Elizabeth Daly, Shannon DeForest, Emily Klein).
3x400 Intermediate Hurdle Relay: Siani Bailey (Camden), 1:09.63. Team- Camden, 3:36.56 (Bailey; Lenaami, 1:11.89; Keisha Williams, 1:15.04).
4x100 Relay: Camden, 50.77 (Jenia Hudson, Larae Davis, Keisha Williams, Courtney Walker).
Distance Medley Relay: Cinnaminson, 13:31.50 (Olivia Rocks, Christina Harrell, Andrea Torres, Haley Adams).
4x100 Shuttle Hurdle: West Deptford, 1:10.27 (Nicole Pinto, Zoe Shannon, Alexa Petracci, Kiersten Cooper)
4x200 Relay: Deptford, 1:44.58 (Sundasia Baker, Taylor Ransom, Maia Kelly-Miller, Kiara Lester).
4x800 Relay: Cinnaminson, 10:25.90 (Olivia Rocks, Andrewa Torres, Casey Bleistine, Haley Adams).
Sprint Medley Relay: Deptford, 4:35.22 (Zabrina Clement, Amaris Marsh, Maia Kelly-Miller, Camryn Tirado).
4x400 Relay: Deptford, 4:12.88 (Taylor Ransom, Sundasia Baker, Kayla Tucker, Kiara Lester).
Discus: Sydney Hall (Bridgeton), 96-03. Team-Buena, 253.3 (Kayla Johnson, 91-10; Meghan Wrinkler, 81-00; Francesca Mosentoff, 80-05).
Javelin: Emily Lukach (Bordentown), 92-05. Team- West Deptford, 248.06 (Emma Blades, 91-00; Natalie Carrero, 82-03; Gia Corsetti, 75-03).
Shot Put: D’Ajoinae Lee (Bridgeton) 33-08.00. Team- Bridgeton, 93-08.25 (Lee; Sydney Hall, 30-00.25; Alleyah Jackson, 30-00.00).
Long Jump: Kiara Lester (Deptford) 15-11. Team- Deptford, 44.3 (Lester; Maia Kelly –Miller, 14-02; Sundasia Baker, 14-02).
Triple Jump: Ariyel Best (Cinnaminson) 32-06.25. Team- West Deptford, 86-00.75 (Kiersten Cooper, 29-06.50; Rebecca Solimeo, 28-08.75; Zoe Shannon, 27-09.50).
High Jump: Zoe Shannon (West Deptford), 4-04. Teams- West Deptford, 13.00. (Shannon; Lauren Tigue, J4-04; Rebecca Solimeo, J4-04).
Pole Vault: Cheyanne Kaluhiokalani (Delran), 8-06. Team- Delran, 21-06 (Kaluhiokalani; Quinn Reynolds, 7-00; Jillian Hickey, 6-00).
Group III: Team Champion: Winslow, 78
4x1600 Relay: Hammonton 23:16.53 (Ashley Ranere, Jennifer Plummer, Brooke Finnerty, Janie Donio Enscoe).
3x400 Intermediate Hurdle Relay: Maryn Hess (Winslow), 1:08.44. Team- Winslow (Hess; Shayla Rivers, 1:10.34; Ziani Smalls, 1:11.28).
4x100 Relay: Winslow, 50.99 (Iyianna Williams, Brittany Preston, Ananda Smith-Stroud, Flora Ahirakwe).
Distance Medley Relay: Ocean City, 12:54.72 (Emma Bergman, Devon Terwilliger, Rachel Stremme, Devon Grisbaum
4x100 Shuttle Hurdle: Winslow, 1:07.23 (Lydia Johnson, Ziani Smalls, Shayla Rivers, Gabrielle Bennett).
4x200 Relay: Winslow, 1:47.97 (Iyianna Williams, Flora Ahirakwe, Ananda Smith-Stroud, Brittany Preston).
4x800 Relay: Ocean City, 10:16.88 (Devon Grisbaum, Emma Bergman, Michaela Baker, Rachel Stremme).
Sprint Medley Relay: Toms River South, 4:25.87 (Madison Meise, Alyssa Wamsley, Chelsea Smith, Alexsus Vuocolo).
4x400 Relay: Winslow, 4:09.27 (Iyianna Williams, Shayla Rivers, Flora Ahirakwe, Brittany Preston).
Discus: Ronetta Hunter (Burlington Twp.) 115-06. Team- Burling Twp., 303.03. (Hunter; Tamecia Ransom, 107-02; Lorpu Sankon, 80-07).
Javelin: Ronetta Hunter (Burlington Twp.) 113-10. Team-Burlington Twp., 286.3 (Hunter; Lorpu Sankon, 96-00; Brittany Stevens, 76-05).
Shot Put: Ronetta Hunter (Burlington Twp.) 43-07. Team- Burlington Twp., 107.10 (Hunter; Lorpu Sankon, 34-00; Kai Jamerson, 30-03).
Long Jump: Talyah Cox (Delsea), 16-01.50. Team- Delsea, 43-06.50 (Cox; Cece Gerstenbacher, 14-04; Nadia Beradelli, 13-01.
Triple Jump: Nia Hinds (Burlington Twp.). Team-Highland, 96.9. (Kayla Walton, 32-07.25; Dajai McClellan, 32-06.25; Yakira Daniles, 31-07.50).
High Jump: Gabrielle Bennett (Winslow), 5-06. Team- Winslow, 14-2 (Bennett; Maryn Hess, 4-08; Ameyah Smart, 4-00).
Pole Vault: Kaity Barreda (Mainland), 8-00. Team- Mainland, 21-00 (Barreda; Morgan Shyner, 7-00; Rachel Thorton, 6-00).
Group IV: Team Champion: Kingsway, 118.
4x1600 Relay: Clearview, 23:31.66 (Emily Schaeffer, Ava Fritz, Sophie Fossett, Kaitlin Donahue).
3x400 Intermediate Hurdle Relay: Jaclyn Heineman (Kingsway), 1:06.16. Team-Absegami, 3:31.53. (Summer Jarolmen, 1:08.32; Cyann Moyer, 1:11.05; JoJo Johnson, 1:12.16).
4x100 Relay: Egg Harbor Twp., 51.21 (Ayanna Garrett, Ajae Alvarez, Melina Johnson, Misty Jennings).
Distance Medley Relay: Kingsway, 13:02.69 (Rachel Vick, Jaclyn Heineman, Thaila Cooper, Destiny Stanford).
4x100 Shuttle Hurdle: Absegami, 1:10.21 (Cyann Moyer, Erica Ross, Mercy Harris, Summer Jarolmen)
4x200 Relay: Kingsway, 1:46.71 (Najiyah Palmer, Thaila Cooper, Arianna Waller, Jaclyn Heineman).
4x800 Relay: Kingsway, 10:10.65 (Destiny Stanford, Kylie Anicic, McKenzie Nugent, Rachel Vick)
Sprint Medley Relay: Egg Harbor Twp., 4:18.67 (Ajae Alvarez, Ayanna Garrett, Alina Roell, Julianna Catania).
4x400 Relay: Kingsway, 4:13.46 (Jaclyn Heineman, Hailey Rivell, Arianna Waller, Thaila Cooper).
Discus: Emily Hilt (Kingsway), 113-04. Team- Vineland, 310.06 (Cameron Daniels, 110-08; Danea Wint, 103-03; Najeaya Singleton, 96-07).
Javelin: Niyah Cosme (Vineland), 132-01. Team- Vineland, 309-03 (Cosme; Tumelo Nwanna, 110-00; Arianna Holmes, 67-02).
Shot Put: Danea Wint (Vineland), 38-03. Team- Vineland, 111-10.50 (Wint; Cameron Daniels, 37-02; Najeaya Singleton, 36-50.50).
Long Jump: Jessica Bryant (Cherry Hill East), 15-02. Team-Absegami, 42-11.50 (JoJo Johnson, 14-10.50; Kayla Miller, 14-03; Genira Nurse, 13-10).
Triple Jump: Jasmin Jones (Kingsway), 33-07.75. Team-Kingsway, 90-02 (Jones; Victoria Mbakwe, 28-09.50; Jade Daniels, 27-08.75).
High Jump: Jade Daniels (Kingsway), J4-08. Team-Williamstown, 13-04 (Erin Fahy, J4-08; Tanaisa Calhoun, J4-08; Daijah Little-John, J4-00).
Pole Vault: Sarah Polistina (Absegami), 8-00. Team- Absegami, 21-00 (Polistina; Shannon Stonnell, 7-00; Abigail Biddulph, 6-00).
Tag(s): Home Kingsway Schools Tri-County Conference Olympic Conference Colonial Conference West Deptford Burlington Co. League Zach Bates Winslow Twp. Deptford Schalick Burlington Township Girls Track & Field Colonial Conference Liberty West Deptford Girls Track Olympic Conference Patriot Winslow Twp. Girls Track Tri-County Conference TCC - Diamond TCC - Royal Deptford Girls Track Schalick Girls Track Kingsway Girls Track Burlington County League Liberty Burlington Twp. Girls Track