Due to a variety of factors every spring, the Shore Conference Track and Field Championships is never the primary concern of championship season, especially with the NJSIAA Sectionals beginning Friday afternoon at various sites statewide.
Despite state sectionals and weekend-long prom commitments typically throwing a wrench into what could have been standout fields, there is typically at least one race that grabs everyone’s attention. The boys 1,600 fit that bill on Saturday morning at Neptune High School.
Christian Brothers Academy senior Jack Boyle took the field through in 1:08, 2:12 and 3:16 at the bell with junior teammate Mike McClemens and Toms River South junior Kyle Kroon trailing. Kroon, the Ocean County runner-up in the event, was right there with about 250 meters left and overcame getting boxed in briefly before moving to the outside with 100 meters to go.
With one great burst after getting outside, Kroon passed McClemens and a fading Boyle for the win in 4:16.59, capping the race with a blistering 59-second final lap for his first Shore Conference title.
McClemens was second in 4:18.12 with Boyle third in 4:18.88. Those 14 points, plus a 3-4-5 finish in the 3,200, highlighted a 93-point day and a third consecutive Shore Conference team title for the Colts. Matawan was second with 65.33 points and Central third with 42.
“Since the CBA kids were in the race, I knew it was gonna be a fast race,” Kroon said. “I felt as if I could stay on their shoulder and just kick at the end. It’s how I pictured it in my mind the last few days and that’s what happened.”
Kroon’s winning time is a monster personal best. He ran 4:23.70 indoors at the Ocean County Championships in January and 4:26.40 outdoors at last week’s Ocean County Championships, where he finished second to senior teammate Chris Marco.
“At counties, I just wasn’t feeling it,” Kroon said. “My stride was off, I was over-striding, it wasn’t a good race. Today, I felt content and I really felt it the last 100 and I was able to kick well.”
Marco, bound for Notre Dame in the fall, sat out Saturday to rest in anticipation of next weekend’s South Jersey Group III meet, where he is the defending champion in the 800 and 1,600. Had Marco ran Saturday, he would have been bidding to become only the third three-time Shore Conference winner at 1,600 meters.
The 100-meter final did not shape up the way many thought it would due to Monmouth County champion Ishmael Hyman opting to attend St. John Vianney’s prom on Friday night, but the Ocean County champion made due anyway.
Central senior Markeyth Overton ran an outstanding race, getting out of the blocks clean, taking control early and cruising for the win in 10.86 in unseasonably cool, slightly breezy conditions. Overton’s first Shore Conference title came nine days after his first Ocean County title when he ran 10.85.
“That was probably one of the best races I’ve ran this season,” said Overton, who skipped his own prom to be fresh and ready for Saturday morning. “Seeing that the guy from St. John Vianney didn’t come, I did not go to prom for this reason. I really wanted to win this race today.”
Matawan’s Jacob Lopez stayed up for second in 10.93, while Monmouth County runner-up Saeed Blacknall of Manalapan was third in 10.96.
The Ocean County champion at 200 meters as well, Overton came back later in the day to finish third in 22.96. Lopez was the winner in 21.94, while Red Bank’s Xavier Chestnut was second in 22.20.
In the 400, Jackson Liberty’s Clinton Bailey followed his Ocean County win with a dominant effort Saturday, clocking 48.71 for the win. That mark is more than a full second better than the rest of the field.
In two championship meets this season, Matawan senior and Cornell-bound Justin Love has scored 74 points. Thirty-six of those came Saturday as he won the 400 hurdles (54.95), high jump (6-4) and triple jump (45-9) while placing third in the 110 hurdles (14.84).
The 3,200 saw the Ocean duo of Greg Lowing and Andrew Dombrowiecki finish 1-2 in 9:37.65 and 9:44.42, respectively.