Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

This year’s NJSIAA tournament had six new rules introduced. Since there are no more paper entries, schools have to be sure to submit entries have been submitted in a timely manner.

Best of the best from NJSIAA Indoor Track Group Championships

April 25, 2023

Last weekend,the Group Championships for indoor track took place,here are the top highlights from the weekend.

Non Public A Boys 

Seton Hall Prep went 1-2-3 in the 400,riding a masterful triple by senior Xavier Donaldson on their way to a tight 83-75 win over Christian Brothers Academy.

This is Seton Hall’s first indoor state title since 1980 when they shared the title with CBA and Don Bosco Prep and their eighth win overall.

Xavier Donaldson ignited their 400 sweep finishing first in a sensational time( 49.27) and that was just the start of an incredible day for the senior. He went on to win the 55 meter dash in a personal best(6.44) and split 50.1 in the 4×400 to lead Seton Hall to win that respective event. Donaldson’s 55 and 400 times were both the fastest times run in all the Group events combined.

Ryan Matulonis also came up big for Seton Hall,placing second in the 400(49.60) and 55 hurdles(7.74).

Rounding out the 400 sweep was Nichola DeVita, who placed 3rd in the 400(51.15) and 2nd in the 800(1:59.19). Matthew Oess cleared 11-0(second in the pole vault for SHP). Stephen Niamke made 6-2 to finish second in the high jump.

Collin Boler,the state leader in the 1600(4:09.15),ran just the 800,winning the event(1:54.94). Brian Boler,(NJ No. 2 in the 1600 with 4:13.11) was upset in the mile by Nick Sullivan who ran 4:20.67. Boler redeemed himself in the 3200,narrowly edging Joe Barrett of CBA(9:16.65 to Barrett’s 9:18.68).


Other Notable Victories

Delbarton,who finished third had Paul Quense win the pole vault(11-06). St Peter’s prep(4th) had Chad Trammell win the hurdles(7.71) and Zion Fowler won the high jump(PR of 6-4). Justin King won the shot put.


Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

Entrance into the tournament costs runners or teams money. Relay teams pay $25 per member, whereas individual races will cost $16 per runner.

Non-Public A Girls 

On the girls side it was all about Union Catholic and Cate DeSousa’s impressive double meet record.

UC further solidified themselves as one of the top programs in state history, adding to its remarkable streak with its eighth straight title.

Its rare for any team to throw down a 1-2-3 sweep in any event but UC did it three times out of the six individual running events. They swept the 800,55 hurdles and 55 dash which accounted for 72 out of their 98 points. Red Bank Catholic placed second with 29 points,led by Cate DeSousa.

This is UC’s second straight year sweeping the 800 thanks to the performances of Kaleigh Gunsiorowski(2:16.49), Peyton Hollis(2:17.14) and Maameya Nyinah(2:17.68).

Sophomore Taylor Cox dropped a PR( 7.98) to lead the hurdle sweep for Union Catholic. Ajanae Thompson(8.11) and Alexandra Bonn(8.72) came in 2nd and 3rd.

In the 55 dash,sophomore Taylor Aska ran a meet record( 7.10). Cox finished second with a PR(7.14) and Thompson was third( 7.24).

Nyinah, Vonya Gould, Gunsiorowski, and Hollis rounded out the 4×400 team which won( 4:01.85).

Another key performance from UC was Ebony Turner(3rd in the high jump with 5-0).

The biggest star was Cate DeSousa. Doubling in the 1600 and 3200, DeSousa won the 1600( 4:57.62) to break her own meet record. She later set a new 3200 record with the number 1 fastest time in NJ( 10:27.63).

Other Notable Victories 

Sophomore Gina Certo won the 400 and Kamryn Cieslik won the high jump. Freshman Leah Solomon won the pole vault and Tyaja Thomas won the shot put.


Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

It is interesting to note that Public and non-public teams will compete in different brackets for all meets, except the meet of champions.

Non Public B Boys 

Union Catholic’s boys dropped down to a B team and proved to be a major mismatch. UC racked up a staggering 139.5 points,winning by a whopping 88.5 points. They have now won three state indoor titles in the B section(2012,’13 and ’23)along with 1 in 2022 in the A section.

Jimmy Wischusen led the dominant victory by winning two state titles in record breaking fashion.

He missed most of the indoor season last year and a good portion of the fall with injuries. However he has made a great comeback,setting records in the 1600 and 3200(4:18.26 and 9:12.45).

His victory in the 3200 set up UC for a 1-2-3 sweep. Ryan Cichoki also came up big, finishing 2nd( 9:26.62) and Michael Devine finished third( 9:39.41).

UC also got wins from Al-Qamar Rojas in the hurdles (a PR of 8.02) and Emerson McKindra in the high jump (5-10). The 4×400 squad of McKindra, Rojas, Marcus McCoy, and Avery Atexide won the event( 3:31.04).

The Vikings also got key points from Avery Atexide, second in the 400( 52.88), McCoy, third in the 400(53.01), and Chris Wilson in the hurdles, second with a PR ( 8.42).

Matthew Schultz also came up big in the pole vault with a PR( 12-6) to finish second.

Other Notable wins 

 Joshua Huisman, the state leader in the shot put, hit 60-0.75 to win his first state championship.

Brian Theobald won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 titles last year. This year, he repeated as champion in the 800( 2:00.37), and was third in the 1600.

Sophomore Thomas O’Connor made history, winning the 400( 52.85), becoming the first track and field athlete from Wardlaw-Hartridge to win a state indoor title.

Newark Academy sophomore Matthew Herbert also made a great comeback this season. After missing most of his freshman year with a back injury, he cleared 13-0 to win the pole vault.

Spencer Anderson won the 55 meter dash.



Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

It is important to understand that Contestants who appear at any of the tournament events without their coach (or certified member of the faculty) will be disqualified.

Non-Public B Girls 

Montclair Kimberley won the 4×400 relay to clinch its first championship ever. Tilly O’Connor was the best individual runner on the track, winning all three distance races to raise her career total of State Group titles to 12.

MKA had a narrow 58-55 lead over St. Rose heading into the 4×400. Olga Shandarivska, Milagros Carbajal-Diaz, Mila Huang(1st in pole vault) and Remy Ronen teamed up to clinch the historic victory for the Cougars in 4:26.49. That gave MKA a 68-61 win over St. Rose.

Ronen was a key contributor for MKA.  Ronen won the 400 dash( 1:00.30), and was second in the 55 dash( 7.62).

They also received a victory from freshman Mila Huang in the pole vault (10-0). Maggie Horn earned 14 points by placing second in the 1600 and third in the 3,200 and Rebecca Herrick was second in the 800.

O’Connor was a beast for St. Rose. She won the 1,600(5:14.10), 800(2:26.42), 3200(11:31.92), and she ran a leg on the third-place 4×400.

O’Connor has now won seven state indoor titles, three state outdoor championships, and has won two state XC titles.

Priscilla Michel set multiple school records and won the 55 dash( 7.45) and the hurdles( 9.05), the first two state titles of her career.

Group 1 Boys

Metuchen, led by legendary coach Marty Holleran, returned to the top. Jack Ahart and Hayden Singer were double winners and Peyton Shute ran 9:14.51 to win the 3,200 at the State Group 1 meet.

Metuchen also got a big contribution from Vedant Nik,who won the 55 hurdles(7.73) to outscore defending champion Dayton, 42-30. This is their first championship since 1999 and its sixth overall.

In the 800, Brandon Sinclair placed second(1:59.78) and Juan Nicholas Hildago ran a 2 second PR(2:02.26) to place third. Alex Patelski dropped a three second PR and broke the school record( 4:24.35) to finish third in the 1,600.

Metuchen put an emphasis on their win by placing third in the 4×400 relay.

Jack Ahart continued his phenomenal season by winning his first two state titles. He won the 55 dash(6.54) and captured the 400(49.88). Ahart has the Morris County 55 record( 6.46).

Shute was racing the clock in the 3,200 as he was looking to clinch a spot in the seeded heat. He accomplished that by dropping a PR(9:14.51), the second fastest time in the state this season.

Hayden Singer captured his first state title by winning the 800 in a PR(1:57.39). He also anchored the winning 4×400(3:34.05).


Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

NJSIAA rules state, “Coaches are to check in each Relay (in Relay Championships) or each contestant which indicates the athlete’s best time/height/distance from the current season based on those submitted entries via MileSplit.”

Other Notable Victories

Colin Riley of Jonathan Dayton won the 1600( 4:19.79). Elijah Rowe won the high jump,Sophomore Leo Davis won the Pole Vault and Luke Riordan won the shot put.

Group 1 Girls

After Clayton won its second straight State Group 1 title last June with the Sharpe triplets leading the way, there was a lot of speculation about what would happen when the trio graduated. Clayton answered with their greatest indoor season ever.

The Clippers came up with their biggest win in indoor school history when Erica Thomas, Alanna Woolfolk, sophomore Leila Ortiz, and Kelsey Taylor combined to win the 4×400(4:13.41). This led them to a 41-38 victory over defending champion Metuchen. They led Clayton 32-31, heading into the relay, placed third(4:15.14). Woolfolk, a two-time Meet of Champions winner in the high jump, gave Clayton 10 points when she won the event( clearing 5-6).

Clayton’s other points came from Kelsey Thomas(third in 400) and Maylisa Bluford, second in the shot(36.-8).

Emma Keating, the Meet of Champions winner in the pole vault last June, won the event(clearing 11-6) and finished second in the 55 hurdles( 8.78). Keating is the state leader in the pole vault(12-6).

Hand-Brooks started her day by placing second in the 400(personal-best 1:00.68). She also finished second in the 55 dash(7.44), and won the 55 hurdles for the second straight year(8.66).

Metuchen’s runner-up finish was led by Nelagh Matthews and sophomore Gianna Hernandez.

Matthews won the 55 dash(7.43) and Hernandez produced 19 points with a strong distance double. She won the 3,200( 11:44.12) and placed second in the 1,600( PR of 5:23.06).

Megan Donlevie won the 1,600( 5:15.67) to win her fourth State Group Championship. She has won two State XC titles, one outdoors last spring in the 1,600, and now one indoors.

Rising freshman Kiera Greene, ran a PR of 2:21.00( first in the 800).

Kylie Castillo continued her fantastic rookie season by winning the 400( 58.99).

Other Notable Victories

In the shot put, Elliot Eddy won( 37-06.50).


Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

For public schools, “A contestant must qualify in the Sectional Meet by placing in one of the first six (6) places for each event. All ties for Sixth (6th) Place will advance.”

Group 4 Boys

Westfield won a close one over Union to repeat as champion. Akshay Vadul of Edison hammered out a fast distance double, Gabriel Rodriguez was spectacular for Union, and Yashahya Brown won the hurdles in a meet loaded with great performances.

Heading into the 4×400, Westfield held a 32-24 lead over Union.

In order to overtake Westfield, Union had to win the race and have Westfield not place in the top six. Union could also earn a tie for the title by placing second and having Westfield not place in the top six.

Westfield got a slow seed time because of a fall in the sectional race and had to run in the first of the four heats while Union ran the seeded heat.

Union (3:29.28) was second behind Toms River North (3:24.85) to place second in the event to earn eight points. Westfield erupted when they saw the live results of the race pop up on their phones, which showed they placed fifth for two points to edge Union, 34-32.

Westfield’s relay team consisted of Emanuel Gayanilo (53.5), Ryan Daly (53.0), Jonathan Scalia (51.7), and Joe Pierro (51.2).

Avery Keith had a sensational double, finishing second in the 1,600 (PR of 4:15.87) and the 3,200 (9:20.77). In the 800, Scalia (1:57.67) finished 3rd. Scalia, who got pushed to the back of the pack at the start, worked hard to move up and then past three runners with about 100 meters to go to get third. Westfield also received key performances in the 1600 from Tage Mehta (a PR of 4:17.19) and Ryan Daly (a PR of 4:18.73).

This championship was especially sweet for Mehta and Pierro, who have dealt with injuries during their careers.

Mehta tore his ACL in May of 2021, and missed the entire XC and indoor seasons as a sophomore before coming back last spring, running 4:20. Pierro only ran three races last winter because of a hamstring injury, and then he missed the entire outdoor season with a lumbar stress fracture in his back.

One of the best parts of the whole weekend was Akshay Vadul.

Vadul won a pair of battles with Keith by running 4:14.15(NJ No. 4)  in the 1,600, and 9:18.34 in the 3,200. Vadul’s 4:14.15 was the fastest time of all the Group Championships meets combined.

Gabriel Rodriguez left everything he had on the track to try to lead Union to the team title. He won the 800(1:57.17), placed second in the 400, and then split 49.1 as the anchor in the 4×400. Rodriguez is the state leader in the 800(1:53.30).

Brown earned the top seed in the hurdles for the Meet of Champions( 7.37), which is US No. 5 this season.He will go to battle with Nate Rayan(US No. 2 with a 7.30) at the Meet of Champions.

Jason Meza, state leader in the 400, won the race(49.78). Meza won the state Group 4 400 hurdle race last spring.

 R.J Smith, made a PR( 6-6) to win the high jump.

Other Notable Victories

Sophomore Cole Cramer won the 55 dash(6.50). In the field events,Damian Scouloukas won the pole vault and Fabian Gonzalez won the shot put.


Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

It is important to understand that Contestants who appear at any of the tournament events without their coach (or certified member of the faculty) will be disqualified.

Group 4 Girls

Piscataway, led by Brooke’Lyn Drakeford, won its first title. Jessica Oji launched a massive bomb in the shot put, and Emma Zawatski won two titles.

Drakeford, the state leader in the 400(56.51), scored 30 of Piscataway’s 36 points to spark the Chiefs to a six-point win over Eastern. Drakeford won the 400( 57.28), the fastest time of all the Group Championships combined, placed second in the hurdles(a PR of 8.27,NJ No. 7) and anchored the runner-up 4×400 relay.

The remaining six points came from Enobong George, third in the 55 dash( a PR of 7.32).

The craziest moment of the entire weekend came when Oji, a sophomore at Livingston, sent the 8.8-pound shot put  47-2.25 on her final throw of the trials. That’s not only the No. 1 throw in the state this season, it’s
No. 3 in the nation this season, No. 2 in state history for a sophomore, No. 6 in US history for a sophomore, and No. 12 in NJ history. Alyssa Wilson, the greatest thrower in state history, is the only girl in NJ history who has thrown further indoors as a sophomore. Wilson set the state sophomore record( 48-6.50) in 2015. The national sophomore record is 51-5, set by Becky O’Brien in 2008.

Oji has come a long way since throwing a season-best( 41-7 last spring). She started spinning this season, and she has become more and more comfortable with the new technique.

Emma Zawatski is the state leader in both the 800 (2:13.12) and the mile (4:48.71). She won both of those races( 2:16.92 and 4:50.26). The 4:50.26 is the fastest time in all the group meets.

Julia Scrudato, Quaycian Davis, Samantha Strydesky, and Cynthia Boakye, also came up big.

Scrudato placed second in the 1,600(4:54.89), and came back to win her first state title( 10:49.02) in the 3200.

Davis ran a PR( 8.07) to win the hurdles and move up to No. 3 in the state rankings.

Strydesky won the high jump at the Meet of Champions last spring and cleared 5-6 to win her second straight HJ title.

Boakye crushed Elizabeth’s school record by dropping her PR( 7.16) to win the 55 dash. This is the number 6 time in the state this season.

Other Notable Victories

Eastern Region won the 4×400 relay( 4:00.61) and Ella Karolewski won the high jump.

Group 2 Boys

Heading into the 4×400 relay,there was a lot of pressure on Ocean Township. They were trailing Cinnaminson, 30-22, and needed to win the relay to win its first state indoor title. Ethan DeFonseka, his brother, sophomore Jacob, and  Mark Viggiano and Alex Sadikov responded to the challenge by winning the event( 3:28.88), just ahead of runner-up Deptford(3:29.28). Sadikov, the Meet of Champions winner in the 400 last June, held off a strong challenge by Lathan Brown to win.

The win propelled Ocean Township to a 32-30 victory over Cinnaminson.

Sadikov was second in the 400(49.88). Viggiano remained undefeated in the 800, winning in 1:56.07.

Alexander Boyko came up big for Cinnaminson. The star dropped a PR( 4:18.28) to win the 1,600, and came back to run a strong time( 9:28.30) to finish second in the 3,200.

Owen Horevay finally became a state champ, dropping a huge PR( 9:19.14) to win the 3,200. Horevay was second at the State Group 2 XC Championships this past fall. He said not doubling and being fresh was a big key to winning the biggest race of his life.

John Connors continued his fantastic season by clearing a personal best(6-6) to win the high jump. That’s tied for the best jump in the state this season. Connors, a football star, just started jumping last year. In that time, he’s become a three-time sectional champ (long jump and high jump last spring and the HJ this season) and is now a state champion.

Lathan Brown scored the biggest win of his career by winning the 400( 49.69), edging Sadikov (49.88).

Eric Foster has been plagued by a sore hip most of the season but has been feeling much better lately and it showed when he won the hurdles(PR of 7.47). That’s the number 3 time in NJ this season and number 11 in the U.S.

Other Notable Victories

In the field events,Nathan Park won the pole vault and Jack Small won the shot put. Corey Thomas of Oakcrest won the 55 dash( 6.52).

Group 2 Girls

Christina Allen led River Dell to its second straight title. Clemmie Lilley of Rumson also produced an impressive performance to highlight the action in the girls Group 2 competition.

Allen has won two outdoor Meet of Champions titles (the 3200 in 2021 and the 800 as a sophomore last spring), won the 1,600( 5:05.01),placed second to Lilley in the 800 and finished off her incredible triple when she used a closing kick to win the 3200(11:09.58), which clinched a 44-39 victory for River Dell over Rumson in a tight battle. It’s the third state title for River Dell, who last won in 2016.

Allen has now won five State Group individual titles (four indoors and one outdoors).

River Dell  received a clutch victory from Grace McQueeney in the high jump (5-0), and a third-place finish from Abreeana Rilveria in the 55H (8.67).

Lilley, a sophomore, won three gold medals to fuel Rumson to its runner-up finish.

Lilley got  off to a fast start by getting out to a quick lead and running away with it on the way to a repeat victory in the 400( PR of 57.54), the second fastest time of all the Group Championship meets combined. Then in the 800, Lilley edged Allen in the 800(2:18.53 to 2:19.93). Lilley, relying on her powerful kick, sat behind Allen for the first 600 before kicking to the front just before the bell and then pouring it on over the final 200 and holding off Allen to secure the win.

Lilley won the outdoor State Group 2 title in the 400 last spring and now has four state titles in her career. She put an exclamation point on her day by splitting 58.1 as the anchor on Rumson’s 4×400 that won(4:02.28).

Abigail Dennis added a state title to her resume by winning the hurdles(8.33).


Group 3 Boys

Pennsauken won its first state indoor title when the 4×400 relay came through to clinch the win.

Pennsauken, leading Chatham, 32-30 heading into the relay, locked up the team title when freshman KaRon Ali, Ladanian McGrath, and Premier Wynn and Bryce Tucker rolled to a victory(3:24.47), the fastest time of all the Group Championship meets combined. They finished with 42 points, and Chatham, third in the relay, was second( 36).

Pennsauken captured state outdoor titles in 2016 and 2021 and were second at this meet the past two years. They received huge contributions from Wynn, Tucker, and Elijah Jennings.

Nate Rayan(US leader in the 55 hurdles at 7.30), won a clash with defending state champion Tucker in the hurdles(7.53 to 7.56).

Ryan Beegle broke away from Micah Lawson to win the 1,600( 4:14.72). Lawson, the Meet of Champions winner in cross-country, was second( 4:17.57).

Nick Scarangelli continued his big season when he cut more than 10 seconds off his PR to win the 3,200(9:34.61).

Xavier Hayletts won the 55 dash(6.47).

 Tucker, who has won the last two Meet of Champions titles in the 400 hurdles, won the 400(49.73), and placed second in the 55 hurdles. Wynn was second in the 400( 49.82), and Jennings finished third in the 55 dash with a PR( 6.56).


Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff

Coaches are not to enter the running area, or the field event areas, during the meet, and they are not permitted to communicate with their contestants in these areas. This rule will be enforced and may result in the disqualification of the contestant. 2. A “coaches box” will be established near the finish line if possible.

Group 3 Girls

This meet featured another title that wasn’t decided until the final event, and an impressive showing from freshman phenom Sianni Wynn.

Timber Creek, which trailed Ocean City 26-23.5 heading into the relay, got the win it needed when Chloe Jones, Adiat Olaogun Dickson, Billie Frazier, and Naylah Jones combined for a time of 4:03.18. They own the state-leading time in the 4×400( 3:53.82).

Their 10 points for winning the relay gave them a first-place total( 33.5). Pennsauken, Middletown South, Ocean City tied for second with 26. It’s the second state indoor championship for Timber Creek, which last won in 2017.

Timber Creek’s other points came from Guerlande Pierre, second in the shot put with a PR(36-6.75). They also received points from Naylah Jones was second in the 55 dash( 7.19), and Chloe Jones was third in the 400(58.21).

Wynn showed up big, winning the 400( 57.26) and the 55 dash( 7.09), just off her state-leading 7.06 that she has run twice this season. Wynn’s times were both the fastest run in all the Group Championships meets combined.

Wynn’s PR’s( 7.06 and 56.98) make her the second fastest freshman in state history in the 55 dash and the 400. Only Olympic gold medalist English Gardner(7.04 to finish first at the 2007 Eastern States Championships), and Samantha Anderson( 55.94 to place third at the 2014 Easterns), have run faster as freshmen. Gardner won gold as a member of the 4×100 relay team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Wynn is the fastest freshman in the 400 indoors in the state since World 400 hurdles record holder Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic( 56.15 to place third at the 2014 Meet of Champions).

Paige Boyce missed most of the outdoor season and most of this past XC season with an injury. She made a comeback and used a strong finish to win the 1,600( 5:04.50).

Sophomore Sofia Day broke her own Atlantic County record, winning the 800( 2:15.59). This is the fastest time in all the Group meets combined.

One of the biggest winners of the entire weekend was sophomore Delana Einreinhofer. She pulled off a shocking victory in the 3,200( 10:53.78, a 20 second PR).

Einreinhofer also ran a big PR( 5:04.70) to place second in the 1,600 earlier in the meet. She later finished just ahead of  Lillie Widmer( second in 10:54.31), and Liliah Gordon was third( 10:59.21).

Nyjae Shipley became the first girl from Rahway to win a state indoor title in 18 years when she ran 8.35 to capture the 55 hurdle title. The last Rahway girl to win a state indoor title was LaShonda Carter(won the Group 2 55 and 200 in 2005).

Other Notable Victories

The field event winners included Elaina Styer, who won the HJ, Shreya Sathiyan(1st in pole vault) and Maddie Hussey(1st in shot put).

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