A great program became even greater.
The Delsea High School boys’ track team has won five outdoor South Jersey titles - all under Coach Ronn Flaim in his 17 years as head track coach – and now the Crusaders own their first state crown in program history.
“We’ve had some very good teams, but this team is a different level than what we had,” Flaim said. “They are unbelievable and they were unreal this weekend. They came up huge.”
Delsea cruised to its inaugural championship with 65 points to outdistance second-place West Windsor-Plainsboro by 19 points over the weekend in Group 3.
“We had pretty much a perfect meet,” added Flaim. “We didn’t slip up anywhere, it was pretty special.”
Topping the special effort by the Crusaders was a record-setting performance by Khaliel Burnett. The supremely talented senior broke the boys’ state record in the triple jump with a historic leap of 50-9 ¼. The previous state record was 50-6 ¾ set by Dominique Irons of Haddon Heights in 2013.
Last week, Burnett topped 50 feet for the first time when he soared 50-4 to win the Group 3 gold medal at the South Jersey Championships. His goal was to clear 50-feet since April when he ripped a personal best of 49-1.75 to place fourth at the Penn Relays and now he has done it two weeks in a row with a chance to pad his state record Saturday at the Meet of Champions.
In addition, to Burnett’s monumental leap, the Delsea 4x800 relay (George Tenenberg, William Mayhew, Colin Kane and Michael Szwed) won gold in a school-record and group record 7:49.45.
“I think we’re a special group of guys,” Szwed said. “We just don’t have one guy that carries us. We’re pretty much good all over and that’s why we won it this year.”
The Crusaders won the sectionals with 140 points while Deptford placed second with 76 points, so the margin of victory wasn’t shocking at the state meet. But winning with ease doesn’t minimize the impact and meaning of winning that first state title.
“We're very proud to be the first and we want to bring the state championship here,” Szwed said.
Afterwards, the celebration was tame, though, as if the Crusaders had been there before.
“We had to get back and prepare for the Meet of Champions,” said Szwed, who will run for Saint Joseph’s University next year.
“We know we can definitely run lower, at least for me,” Szwed added about the 4x800 relay running at Northern Burlington Saturday afternoon against the best teams in the state. “It’s not the fastest I will go all season. I know we can go faster, especially with the competition there.”
Delsea dominated the field events at Central Regional, collecting 49 points to outscore the second-place finisher by three points.
“That is where our strengths are,” Flaim said. “We have Burnett and (Bill) Goldsborough and we have a lot of depth in the pole vault and in the discus, and that’s where our strength has been the last couple years that we have been successful.
Goldsborough, who will throw next year at Georgian Court University, threw a personal best 58-0 1/2 for third in the shot and placed fourth in the discus with a150-1.
Jake Nwosu, a sophomore, won the discus with a personal best of 156-2.
Nico Morales, also a soph, soared 14-0 in the pole vault for silver while Ryan Gillard, a junior, topped 13-6 to finish fifth.
“It feels great to win it, it always feels good to win and it feels good to win with this team,” Goldsborough said. “We are all close and we work really, really hard.
“But I knew we were going to win because of last year because everybody that was good came back.
“I knew everybody on the team would do their role and do the absolute best all year,” Goldsborough said. “And that’s what happened.”
As a result, history happened.