PISCATAWAY, NJ -- Two Piscataway High School seniors, Kaelen Mitchell and Jenna Engels, participated at the adidas Indoor Nationals track and field event this past weekend at the Virginia Beach Sports Center.
Mitchell took part in the 60-meter dash as well as the long jump while Engels flew high in the pole vault against the best of the best high schoolers in the country.
“It felt good just being there. The atmosphere there was incredible,” Mitchell said. “Just seeing people that are as good as me was great.”
Mitchell went down to Virginia to break the New Jersey indoor long jump record set by Carl Lewis in 1979, and because of the coronavirus, the condensed winter track schedule in the state, and the Greater Middlesex Conference only holding outside polar bear meets, this was his only other shot at doing so.
Saturday afternoon, in the “championship” group, Mitchell recorded a best jump of 22-10.50 for sixth place.
Mitchell notched a 24-3.25 at the same venue in January, which is the No. 4 mark in the Garden State all-time. Lewis has the state record with a 25-5.50.
“In the long jump, my mindset was really to just go out there and jump my best no matter what,” Mitchell said. “I was a little disappointed in my jumps because I know I can jump way better than what I jumped. Up in Jersey we were hit with several snowstorms, so I couldn’t go to the track and practice, but it’s not in my control. I know this outdoor season I’m going to go for it all.”
Mitchell also ran his first two 60-meter dashes and in heat six on Saturday morning in the prelims, he finished in 7.02 seconds, which was second in his heat and 11th overall. Mitchell and 23 others advanced to the 60m semifinals on Sunday where he ran a tad slower at 7.21.
“I think I did pretty good for my 60m,” Mitchell said. “My goal was 6.9, but I still got a decent time.”
Mitchell has the second-fastest indoor 55m sprint time this winter in the state at 6.54 in early January.
As for Engels, who placed sixth at the Meet of Champions last March, third in Group 4, fifth at the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 meet, and first each at the GMC Championships and the GMC relays in the pole vault, cleared 11-1.75 on Sunday.
That’s the top mark in New Jersey thus far this winter. Engels’ indoor personal record is 11-8 when she took eighth at the 86th Eastern States Championships last February. Her outdoor PR is 12-3 from this past July 4th.
“It was a really fun experience and cool watching some of the best high school athletes in the country,” Engels said of competing at the adidas Indoor Nationals. “It was a great opportunity to pole vault at a great venue.”
Next Tuesday, March 9, Piscataway is set to battle South Brunswick for its first outdoor polar bear meet of the year. The boys will be home while the girls are away. As of this writing, it is supposed to be 57-degrees and mostly sunny with winds 5-10 mph with no bad weather beforehand.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.
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