COLUMBUS, NJ -- Piscataway High School senior Shauntae Nelson represented the black and gold as well as anybody could at the 2019 NJSIAA outdoor track Meet of Champions this past weekend at Northern Burlington High School.
Nelson came from behind to win the state title in the 400-meter sprint as she clocked in at 54.77 seconds. That time is good for No. 4 in the state this season.
Kent Place’s Kaira Brown, who won the event last spring and during the indoor season two years in a row, had a huge lead practically the entire race until the home stretch when Nelson caught up and surpassed her near the finish line.
“The race definitely went by a lot quicker than I expected,” Nelson told Robert Kellert of NJMilesplit.com. “To be able to go sub-55, that’s been a goal of mine for a while. I’m happy and blessed I was able to achieve it.
“I knew there was a great competition and I had to get out really hard. I had to run smart. I couldn’t exert (a lot of energy at the start), and had to hold some in. Coming around the bend and in the last couple meters, I gave everything I had.”
The win gave Nelson her first outdoors M of C crown but third overall. The senior also has won the last two 200m dashes in the indoor M of C.
“It means a great deal,” Nelson told NJMilesplit. “If you would have told me as a freshman that I would be a three-time M of C champion, I don’t know. I did have a coach who told me one day I would be a state champion and I had to believe in him and I did. He’s very proud.”
PHS girls track coach talked about Nelson back in February when she signed to run at UConn.
“For four years, I’ve had the opportunity to coach this young lady,” Keith Brunson said. “She came to us actually not having done much running in middle school. She’s worked extremely hard. I saw the talent from the beginning. Since she was a freshman, she’s continued to work hard. Above all that, she’s an outstanding student. She holds a 91 average. When I contacted and emailed UConn, I kid you not, the coach called me back in less than five minutes. When you have it all together, this is the result. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but she is more than up to the challenge.”
The girls 4x400 relay also took 14th place as Kaleia Arrington, Sydni Patterson, Jolea Crearer, and Nelson combined to finish in 4:00.55 and Jenna Engels tied for sixth place in the pole vault, reaching a mark of 10-06 as well.
As for the boys, Christian Davis came in 20th place in the 400 with a time of 49.65 seconds and the 4x100 relay team had a strong showing as they took fifth as they crossed the finish line in 42.54 seconds.
The relayers were Juwon Jackson, Davis, Joseph Bellamy, and Christian White.
Jackson will play in the upcoming Phil Simms North-Star all-state football game on June 24 at Kean while Bellamy will play in the Autoland Classic, also at Kean, on July 28.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter, @ChrisWasky.
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