The Rahway High School boys track program has produced a long line of distinguished performers, and Emmanuel Atilola took his place among them this week.
The senior turned in a stellar performance at the Union County Championships Thursday and Friday, winning the long jump with a 23-6 leap, placing second in the high jump with a 6-4 clearance and taking third in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.42.
“I’ve been in this program since my freshman year and I’ve seen a lot of great kids come through Rahway, and I’ve heard all the stories about previous Rahway athletes,” Atilola said. “I know I’m part of a rich, tradition so when I’m put on the track it’s my job to be a great athlete.”
Atilola’s long jump distance is the second-farthest in school history and the Indians’ best in nearly three decades. It happened on his final attempt.
“I was sitting in third place going into my last jump and I thought about last year, how people upset me in the last jump,” he said. “I thought maybe I could channel that.”
Coming off two straight fouls, he said, “I knew once I got on that board I would be able to pop something big. I was shocked (at the distance), but I couldn’t get that excited because I was tired from going back and forth with the high jump.”
In the high jump he matched Governor Livingston’s Elijah Kay for top height but took second based on misses.
“His versatility is unrivaled in our recent history,” Rahway coach Gary Mobley said. “He’s not only a great glue guy, but a great overall leader.”
Atilola, who is headed to Saint Peter’s on a track scholarship, will add the 100 to his docket for next weekend’s NJSIAA North 2 Group III sectional at Millburn. He’s a busy guy, to say the least.
“Basically it’s about mental discipline and toughness and listening to my coaches,” he said. “You’ve got to be prepared for all the aches and pains.”
Rahway also placed second in the boys 4×400 as Thorne Roberts (51.5), Kazeem Otun (48.7), Deshawne Bunion (47.9) and Harlan Clarke (52.1) clocked 3:20.91.