EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP
The Southern boys track and field program has never been mistaken for a sprinting power, but Kevin Barreau certainly acted like fast racing is the norm down there with his 100-meter result on Day 1 of the NJSIAA Group IV Championships.
In a race where Trenton Central sprinting star and last week’s Central Jersey Group IV winner, Zyaire Clemens, reaffirmed himself as a favorite at Wednesday’s Meet of Champions, Barreau had himself a career day.
He got out of the blocks well to an early lead, but was quickly run down by Clemens, who won in a personal best 10.43, which is the top time in the state this spring.
With Clemens going that fast, he pulled guys along with him, including Barreau, who stayed up for third in a personal best and school record 10.86. Manalapan junior Saeed Blacknall pulled through by Clemens to a personal best, running 10.93 for fourth and advancement to the MOC.
“It’s a task, he’s got those long strides and he’s very powerful,” Barreau said. “I just tried getting out as quick as possible, but his top-end speed is just better than everyone else. I feel pretty great, but I still want to do better at Meet of Champions. My confidence just went through the roof after this. I’m still looking to go after that Trenton kid.”
Like Barreau, Blacknall got out well and hung tough as Clemens took off in putting together the best 100-meter race of his career. Friday marked the second straight 100 in which Blacknall fell to Clemens. Last Friday in a steady mist and unseasonable cold at Hillsborough High School, Clemens clocked a very impressive 10.68 for the win, while Blacknall stayed up for second in 11.13.
Blacknall is undoubtedly fast, but as he noted, Clemens is a year-round track kid, while he needs to focus part of his attention to football, where is a high-major FBS recruit.
“He’s very talented, this is what he does and I have a lot of respect for him,” said Blacknall, who confirmed to the Asbury Park Press last Friday that he has narrowed down his college football recruitment to LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida State and Ohio State. “I got out of blocks as well as I could, he got out of the blocks as well as he could, his best was just better than mine.”
Wednesday’s MOC 100 final appears to be shaping up as a showdown between Clemens and Jabrill Peppers. The Paramus Catholic junior, who gave a non-binding verbal commitment to play football at the University of Michigan on Sunday, won Non-Public A in 10.51. He has gone as fast as a state No. 2 10.50 back on May 11.
Clemens came back later in the day to win the 400 in 47.42.
In the Group IV high jump, Howell junior Ian Kirk cleared 6-6 on his first try. He then narrowly missed his first two attempts at 6-8, then failed to clear his third and final try before settling for a second-place tie with Kyle Bryant of Cherry Hill East. Kirk had never cleared 6-6 outdoors and only once indoors last December. Jeffrey-John Tucker of Eastern cleared 6-7 for the win.
One notable absentee on Friday afternoon was Dylan Tarpey, the fifth-place finisher in a loaded 1,600 last weekend at the Central Jersey Group IV meet, the Freehold Township opted to skip the heat and humidity of Friday afternoon and the 1,600 in favor of resting up for what is expected to be a stacked Group IV 3,200 on Saturday.
Tarpey is seeded fourth for that 3,200, having run 9:34.86 to take second in CJ IV. Tarpey has run as fast as 9:13.23 in a loaded race back on May 3 at the Holmdel Twilight Series.
On the girls side, the Freehold Township 4×800 squad ran away with the Group IV win in 9:11.68. That quartet of Adrian Vitello (2:15.38 split), Caitlyn Poss (2:15.56), Abigail Faith (2:24.1) and Emily Bracher (2:15.53) will be among the favorites at the MOC. They have gone as fast as 9:06.12 earlier this season at The Penn Relays.
Columbia did not run its state-leading, Olivia Baker-led 4×800, but still finished second in 9:19.30
Monmouth County, Shore Conference and CJ IV 400 champion Mary Grace Monahan suffered her first loss of the spring, running 56.72 to finish fourth behind Baker, who won in 54.16 to remain unbeaten for her career against New Jersey competition at that distance
Baker, a junior, opened her day with a win in the 100, blowing away the field in 11.64.
Mater Dei freshman Theresa Osborne won the javelin with a top toss of 101-2. That mark is first clearance of at least 100 and a personal best by over three feet.