PLAINFIELD, NJ - While most kids were headed to the pool or summer camp the last weekend in June, a group of dedicated runners and coaches spent the weeknd of June 25-26th competing at the USATF NJ State Championships in Plainfield, NJ.
With competition from all over the state, the Jaguars brought home 40 medals (16 of which were 1st place Championship finishes), qualified in more events with top six finishes for the USATF Region 2 Championships, and dug deep on a hot summer day to set personal bests.
Celebrating their 20th season, Jaguar founders Maurice Cooper, Daneen Cooper and Andrea Johnson continue a long legacy of teaching young athletes not only how to train hard on the track, but also how to strive for academic success.
The youngest runners (U8), some of which have only been running for a couple of months, took the track with a vengeance. Mid-distance runner Myles Richard took 1st place in Boys U8 800M with a personal record (PR) of 2:4934, Sahar Ahad also set a PR (3:00.62) to place 1st in the Girls 800M, and Chase Jones took 2nd to round out the Girls 800M wins.
Myles Richard also ran a PR of 1:16.29 to take 2nd in the 400M. Sprinter Ellis Friday set a PR in both of his individual events, placing 2nd in the 100M (PR 16.11) and 3rd in the 200M (PR 33.06). Natalia Thompson ran away with 2nd place finishes in both the Girls U8 100M and 200M (PR 34.33), and teammate Elysa Sxinas took 3rd place in both the Girls U8 100M and 200M (PR 34.35).
Both the Boys and Girls U8 4x400 Relay Teams took 1st place. Running for the boys was Ellis Friday, Garsen Naar, Xavier Twyman and Myles Richard, and for the girls Natalia Thompson, Chase Jones, Audrey Marvell and Sahar Ahad.
The story of the meet was the 9-10 Boys First place sweep of all track events (100M, 200M, 400M, 800M, 1500M, 4x100 and 4x400 relays) for their age group. Dylan Williams took 1st place 100M dash with a PR of 13.97 and 1st in the 200M with a PR of 28.91. Al-Qamar Rojas ran for 1st in the 400 with a PR of 1:08.50.
Amari Akakpo took first in both the 800M with a PR of 2:36.92, and 1st in the 1500M. The 4x100 9-10 Boys relay team of Matthew Twyman, Anthony Mack, Kai Winston and Gavin Naar took 1st place, and the 9-10 Boys 4x400 boys team of Amari Akakpo, Matthew Twyman, Dylan Williams and Al-Qamar Rojas also took first place. To round out the 9-10 boys medals, longer jumper Kai Winston took 3rd in the pit.
The 9-10 girls also came to run with Nia Freeman taking 2nd place in the 400 with a PR of 1:09.94, Peyton Hollis running it down for 2nd in both the 800M and 1500M, and the 9-10 Girls 4x100 team of Kaia Alcime, Kaori Hector, Chloe Smith and Bryce Twyman taking 2nd place.
The 11-12 boys races were at the line finishes with 100’s of a second determining the winners. Sprinter McKenzy Pierre took 2nd in the 100M finals with a PR of 13.26. Xavier Donaldson took 2nd in the 200 with a PR of 27.45, and teammate McKenzy Pierre took 3rd with a close time of 27.48. Mid-distance runner Edison Friday took 2nd in the 400M with a PR of 1:03.84 and also ran for 2nd in the 800M. The 4x100 11-12 Boys Relay team of McKenzy Pierre, Edison Friday, Leo Grace and Xavier Donaldson continued their dominance in this event, and placed 1st.
The 13-14 Girls took a first place sweep in all of the relay events. The 4x100 “A Team” of Jordan Robinson, Natalie Gibson, Ruth Pasteur and Savannah Lee took 1st, and the “B Team” of Emily Northover, Tionne Murphy, Olivia Grace and Nancy Marie Jones took 3rd. The 4x400 “A Team” of Ashley Bush, Morgan Williams, Savannah Lee and Olivia Grace took 1st, and the “B Team” of Emily Northover, Olivia Grace, Natalie Gibson and Morgan Jackson took 2nd.
The 4x800 team of Ashley Bush, Morgan Williams, Jenna Keith and Morgan Jackson took 1st place. Rounding out the Youth (13-14 yo) performances, sprinter Ruth Pasteur took 3rd in the Girls 100M finals, long jumper Jordan Robinson took 2nd place, and Brandon Hernandez took 2nd in the shot put with a PR of 10.70m.
The older Jaguars (15-16 yo) would not be out done by the younger runners. Kayla Hudson took 1st in the Girls 800M, and Ethan Johnson took 3rd in the 400M with a PR of 53.23.
Congratulations to an amazing group of student athletes and dedicated coaches. Good luck to all of the runners at the USATF Region 2 Championship in Philadelphia, and AAU Championship in Orlando, FL.
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Thank you to Sarah Hollis, Jaguar Track parent, for contributing this article.