CHATHAM, NJ - Anthony Scerbo is known for his closing kick on the track and the Chatham High senior may have saved his best for the last 600-meter race of his career.
The seeds in front of him at the Morris County Winter Track Championships last Thursday were Domenick Wallace of Morris Hills, who owns the No. 2 time in the state, and Yefim Desir of Montville, a runner who had beaten Scerbo in a photo finish the week before.
Scerbo needed a Herculean effort to beat both runners in the same 600-meter race, but that's exactly what happened when he kicked his way to a 1:22.13 time - shattering his own school record of 1:26.31 - in winning the Morris County 600-meter championship. Desir was second in a personal-record time of 1:22.16 and Wallace was third in 1:22.94.
"The seeds in front of me were five seconds and four seconds faster than me," Scerbo said. "It was a great kick, probably my best one ever. I fell through the line and won by .003, which is literally nothing. I had never personally won an individual county title and that was awesome."
Scerbo followed that with a 51-second split in anchoring the Cougars' 4x400 relay team, which placed second and gave Chatham enough points to place third as a team in the county.
Anthony Scerbo is the Chatham Wealth Management Athlete of the Week.
Scerbo's record time has suddenly put him in elite company. He ranks No. 10 in the nation and No. 4 in New Jersey in the 600. But Scerbo's emergence is not a surprise. It has been building since the summer, according to Chatham coach Nick DeSantis.
"I think he had a really good summer and a really, really good cross-country season," DeSantis said. "Everything started there. He was our No. 2 cross-country runner despite the fact that he's more of a mid-distance guy. He let that carry into track. He's an unbelievable athlete, if you watch him run he's like a Gazelle.
"He's all-in now. He puts in the work and the kids follow the example he sets. Once he had some success, he did all the little things to get better."
Some of the little things the 6-2, 155-pound Scerbo has done is to make sure he gets enough sleep and maintains a healthy diet.
"I feel like I have more energy at the end of races," Scerbo said. "It comes down to who had the better sleep, who had a better meal. You can tell by how they're breathing during the race. I used to go out and get pizza and drink a lot of soda. I stopped drinking soda and switched to water. That was definitely a game-changer."
Denying himself sugary drinks has made Scerbo thirsty for more school records. Next on his list is the 800-meter school record set by Chris Black in 2008. Scerbo ran a 1:58.99 outdoor last spring and his best indoor 800 is 1:59.34. He'll need to cut two seconds off that time to erase Black's mark when he competes in the FAT (Fully Automatic Time) meet at Ocean Breeze on Monday.
The fact that runners can wear spikes and that the track is banked at Ocean Breeze makes it one of the fastest indoor track facilities.
"I want to get the school record," Scerbo said. "Work has been paying off. I don't look at it as pressure, honestly. I see it as work paying off. It has more to do with motivation.
"Last year, my coaches always told me to go out faster. I'd do that and die at the end. If I wait to kick, I can use all my energy and that has worked best for me. This year, there is definitely a lot more thinking. I'm trying to stay with the leaders. Most of these guys go out real fast and try to set personal records. I try to stay on their hip."
His recent success has Scerbo thinking he can continue running in college, possibly walking on at Syracuse University.
"I got in academically at Syracuse and now I may have a chance to continue running," Scerbo said.
Editor's note: The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Chatham Wealth Management in recognition of the commitment a Chatham athlete has made to their sport, their school and their community. For over twenty years, Chatham Wealth Management has been committed to putting our clients first by crafting customized investment solutions. Call us at 973-635-4275 or email us at email@example.com to discuss how we can help meet your financial goals. To learn more about our products and team, visit us at www.chathamwealth.com.