LIVINGSTON, NJ — After opened its spring 2019 campaign last week, the Livingston High School (LHS) boys track and field team is not only currently undefeated in the Super Essex Conference (SEC) American division, but has also earned the title of the 16th annual Dodgertown Relays. 

First up was a double dual meet against Montclair and East Orange (EO), two SEC American division foes, at the LHS facilities. The Lancers maintained focus as they prepared for battle, knowing they were heading into a dogfight.

Although only two Lancers competed in the first event, the 400 Intermediate Hurdles, Victor Lopez-Simpson (60.6) came out fast and won against both opponents. Evan Tomasco also competed for LHS.

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Although LHS was shut out, 9-0, by EO in the 100-meter dash, the Lancers grabbed a 6-3 tally over Montclair in the event with Tafari Attoh (11.5) and Jamar Vincent (11.56) taking first and second place. Chris Werner, Brian Leechow Ben Ma, Siraj Akmal, Gavin Dias, Krish Malhotra, Ethan Hirsch, Bupe Lwamba, Jelvin Thomas, Danny Jacobsen, Garrett Burdette, Perfect Gerald, Michael Oji, Lav Saigal and Isaac Lewis also participated in the event.

Transitioning into the distance events, LHS put four one-milers on the line. Philmon Mehari (4:39) bested both opponents while Jon Chen (5:03.5) came in third against EO. Jon Ackerman (5:22) and Ryan Montagna (6:00) also performed their best in this event.

Attoh (52.1) and Werner (54.4) came back for 400 meters, taking the top two spots against both teams with Thomas, Oji and Malhotra also running in the event. LHS then achieved one point in both High Hurdle duals by Lopez-Simpson (17.9) with Tomasco also hurdling.

The 800-meter distance run saw the mid-distance crew of Sean Miller (2:08), Thomas Chun and Dan Silva grabbing a total of nine points for LHS against EO, with Miller also besting Montclair for five points in that competition’s scoring. Colin Miller, Caleb Chow, Krish Govind, Aarush Raj and Alp Hance also ran well in the event.

The 200-meter event saw the track packed with runners for numerous heats. Despite a solid 24.2 clocking by Vincent and 24.5 by Jackson Petryna, the lancers were shutout by EO, but scored 3-6 against Montclair. Several of the other 12 Lancers running in the 200-meter event were returning runners from the 100-meter dash.

The distance runners again hit the track, contesting the 3,200-meter run. Once again, Mehari won the race outright in 10:04. Thomas Lang (11:33) picked up second against EO but was out of the scoring with Montclair. 

Multiple 4x400 squads took to the track to finish out the competition on the 400-meter oval. S. Miller, Ma, Lopez-Simpson and Attoh proved themselves as the “A” squad, beating both opponents and earning a 5-0 advantage in the event against both teams. The Lancers outscored EO, 42-34, and Montclair, 48-29, on the track.

In the field events, Livingston’s Matthew Rosenberg (34'3.25”) took third against both teams, while Petryna and Quinn Devlin also gave it their best also. Vincent went 18’2.75” in the Long Jump for third against EO and second against Montclair, with Attoh (18'.25”) grabbing third against Montclair. Petryna, Leechow and Devlin also jumped well.

Over at the High Jump, Phillipe Jallow, Lopez Simpson, Devlin and Dearrson McNair earned one and three points, respectively, in the competition. In the pole vault, the Lancers tallied another nine points, as John Rosero and Akmal both cleared 10 feet and Andrew McMane cleared nine for the sweep.

LHS also did well in the Javelin, sweeping both teams with Joe Cullen (147'8”), Nick Boffa (142'10”), John Rosero (131'), Jacob Werner throwing for the Lancers. Akmal and Jacob Ullman. In yet another strong event for the throwers, the discus crew of  Boffa (132'10”) and  Jallow (129'10”)  added eight more points for LHS against the two foes. Jason Kim, Mike Gagliano and J. Werner also threw for LHS.

Things did not go as smoothly for the Lancers in the Shot Put, as they only earned one point vs. both teams via a throw of 36'4.75” by Jallow. Kim, McMane, Gagliano, David Samaan and Connor Sweeny also tossed the Shot Put.

LHS was outscored, 33-30, by EO in the field events, by EO 33-30, but defeated Montclair, 37-25.

The contest against EO was indeed a war—with both sides winning battles along the way—but ultimately LHS prevailed, 72-67. Montclair was defeated, 85-54.

“This was a great way to cap the first competition of the season and putting LHS at 2-0 in the conference,” said LHS head coach Dave Czeizinger.

Czeizinger said the boys were “slightly depleted” as they traveled over their first weekend of spring break to Madison High School for the Dodgertown Relays, but said the “coaches worked to keep the focus on track and field.”

Sixteen teams competed for the title, and the Lancers were looking to be competitively in the mix.

Despite not being able to field a squad for the shuttle-hurdle relay, C. Werner, Petryna, Attoh and Vincent ran with purpose in the 4x100m relay—crossing the line at 45.41 for second place and getting the scoring on the track underway with eight points. The “B” squad of Dias, Akmal, Lwamba and McNair also gave it their best.

The distance crew went to work next as the Distance Medley (1200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m) lined up for the starters pistol. Miller got out in a good spot with his opening 1200m leg (3:24.9), followed by Attoh (400m; 52.8), then Chen (800m; 2:13.5), who handed the baton to Mehari for the anchor leg. Mehari passed a few runners, splitting 4:34.7 to bring the crew across the line in 11:05.88 for third place and six more points.

With a taste of medals and hard sprinting under their belts, the Boys 4x200 squad of Vincent, Jallow, Petryna and C. Werner pushed the edge clocking 1:34.88 for the win and 10 more points toward the team’s total.

The LHS junior varsity (JV) boys fielded two crews, with the team of Dias, Cullen, Akmal and McNair taking fourth at 1:44.56. The squad of Devlin, Jacobsen, Lwamba and Hirsch also competed well.

In the 4x800, Adam Dzieszko (2:16.4) joined Chen (2:15.7) and Lang (2:20.3), who passed to Miller for the anchor. Out of scoring position, Miller worked the field, passing two opponents to close fast (2:07) and grab sixth place (8:59.48) and another point for the team. 

The boys put one JV 4x800 on the track with the Chun, C. Miller, Montagna and Silva clocking 9:43.4 for sixth place.

“The points were piling up and the boys were excited, as they had put together a packed crew for the next event, the Sprint Medley Relay (200-200-400-800),” said Czeizinger.

C. Werner and Attoh handled the 200 legs for a combined opening lap of 46.5. Vincent took the baton for the 400 leg, handing it off to the anchor after a 52.6 split.

Anchoring again was Mehari, who took the baton in third place. He moved into a stalking position and burst past his opponents with about 100 meters to go.

Mehari’s broke two minutes for the first time at 1:59.8, bringing his teammates to the finish line in first place for another 10 crucial team points.

“It was also one of only six performances (four in the SMR) on the day to meet the MileSplit second-team National Standard,” said Czeizinger, adding that the Lancers passed up the final 4x400, as they “were spent from the frantic racing that had produced 35 points on the track for LHS.”

The excitement translated over to the field events, where the Lancers were also playing their skills competitively.

In the Long Jump, another first was established to bring the team 10 additional points. Vincent got out 19'11.75” for the third-best jump of the day and combined with C. Werner (18'07”) to earn another first. Also jumping were Devlin, who established a new freshman record with his 19-foot landing in the pit, and Petryna (17'-06”). The Triple Jump saw Matt Rosenberg (34'9.25”) and Devlin (33'04”) finishing in seventh.

The Shot Put duo of Jallow (34'08.25”) and Samaan (30'09.25”) also finished seventh.

In yet another close miss to a top-six spot was the discus trio of Jallow (114'04”), Boffa (108') and Samaan (61'05”). The Lancers did not field a High Jump relay on this day.

Jallow cleared 10’06” in the pole vault, and Akmal complimented him with a 10’ jump. Their combined 21'06” earned the top spot to contribute 10 more points.

Fighting out the Javelin were two Lancers throwing crews. The “A” team of Cullen (154'03”) and Boffa (143'09”) combined to earn the win in the “Robert Balderston Boys Javelin Relay” and was honored with a plaque for that accomplishment in addition to another 10 points for the Lancers. J. Werner (100'6”) and Akmal (97'6”) also threw their best on the day.

Prior to the last few events, the announcers updated the scores to reveal that LHS was in third. With the two first-place finishes earning another 20 points, the field events had contributed another 30 points to the team’s total. At 65 points, the coaches and athletes awaited the final tallies and placing for the meet title.

With five first-place finishes overall, the Lancers pulled off the win by a single point over runner-up Summit.

Still on spring break, the Lancers are headed to East Stroudsburg, Penn. on Thursday for the Red & Black Invitational.