Danielle Leavitt nearly pulled off the sweep at the NJSIAA Group Championships on Thursday.
In her two races, the Lacey senior recorded a personal best in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:56.06 to take second in Group III, then came back about an hour later to capture the Group III title in the 800 with a time of 2:15.06, finishing just two-thirds of a second ahead of Demarest’s Christine Welzer.
“I’m so happy. It’s really great to know that I ran so well today to win one race and get a personal best in the other,” Leavitt said inside the Bennett Center. “I’ve been improving with every race, and going into the Meet of Champions I feel like I’m capable of being a top contender.”
Going into the bell lap of the 800, Leavitt was in third place but made a move for the front right off the first turn and quickly got up on Welzer’s heels as they headed around the backstretch. Leavitt and Welzer were even heading into the third turn, and Leavitt fired into another gear as they rounded the last turn.
“I just had a big adrenaline rush,” Leavitt said. “I knew when I had to make my move, and once I did it was just all-out from there. I was going for it. I kicked around that last turn and just ran as fast as I possibly could to the finish.”
In Group II, Matawan scored a pair of winners as junior Nicole Macco soared 11 feet, 10 inches to snatch the pole vault title and freshman Sam Anderson zipped to her first indoor title in the 400 in 57.51, edging Deptford’s Kiara Lester by a third of a second.
“I saw that she went out really fast and I let her go,” Anderson said. “As I got closer to her just before the last 100, I just sprinted as fast as I could go. And once I passed her, I just kept going and tried not to think too much. It’s really exciting to win as a freshman.”
Red Bank junior Sarena Dixon won a Group II title when she fired the shot put 42-7. Long Branch senior Cleopatra Morrison blazed her way to a time of 7.17 to win the Group II 55-meter dash.
Also in Group II girls, Rumson-Fair Haven’s team of junior Janie DeVito, senior Raechel Mullan, sophomore Morgan Steinhacker and senior Megan Hellman registered the top time of 4:10.20 in the 4×400-meter relay.
In Group III boys, Central Regional senior Jesse Brown won the shot put by nearly two feet with a throw of 53-4. Middletown North senior Tom O’Neill won the 3,200 title in 9:22.22, more than nine seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kyle Kroon from Toms River South.
Thursday’s second-place girls included Ocean Township junior Michelle Mazza, who threw the shot put 40-11 in Group III, as well as Holmdel junior Marin Warner, who crossed the finish line in 4:55.48 in the Group II 1,600.
Second-place boys were Holmdel senior Dan Barlev, who ran 9:33.37 in the Group II 3,200, and Rumson-Fair Haven senior Jason Bryan, who registered 58-9 in the Group II shot put.
In the team standings, only the Lacey girls team managed a top-three finish, tallying 18 points in Group III to finish tied for third with West Morris Central, Demarest and Kingsway.