Seven Morris athletes to know in 2014

Seven Morris athletes to know in 2014

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Seven Morris athletes to know in 2014

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2013 is officially in the books, and while it was a great year for sports and athletes in Morris County, here is a list of people and players you should watch out for in 2014.

Nicolas Fink

A junior breaststroker at Georgia, Fink has only gotten faster since graduating from Pingry. A member of USA Swimming’s junior national team, Fink recently represented the United States at the Duel in the Pool in Scotland. He placed 11th in the 100-meter breaststroke and 17th in the 200 breast at the 2012 Olympic Trials, and was eighth in the 100 breast at the 2013 World Championships.

Fink, who grew up in Morristown, also owns the Georgia record in the 100 breaststroke, was part of the record-setting 200 medley relay, and ranks No. 2 all-time in the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

Staci Mannella

Mannella promotes herself as “partially sighted, wicked fast,” and she’s hoping to prove that to the world in 2013.

Mannella, a Randolph resident who has been accepted to Dartmouth, is trying to earn a spot on the United States Alpine skiing team at the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Mannella was born with achromatopsia, a congenital condition that severely limits her vision and causes extreme sensitivity to light. She navigates slalom gates in radio contact with her guide, Kim Seevers.

Manella won her first World Cup start, the slalom on Coronet Peak at the New Zealand Winter Games, on Aug. 23. She also placed fourth four times and fifth once.

Keturah Orji

Mount Olive’s Orji won nearly every long and triple jump crown as a junior. She wrapped up her season by claiming silver in the long jump and bronze in the triple at the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, this summer. Orji broke the state record in the triple jump with 44-11 on her final attempt, No. 2 all-time by an American girl. She recorded a personal-best of 20 feet, 11¾ in the long jump, leaving her second in New Jersey history behind only Carol Lewis of Willingboro, who set the state record of 21-4½ in 1979.

Orji also won the New Balance Nationals triple jump with a then-state record of 43-9¼, and raised her own Morris County long jump record to 20-6¼ while finishing second at Nationals. She defended her NJSIAA Meet of Champions titles in the long and triple jumps, breaking the 15-year-old triple jump meet record at 42-6½. Orji also broke her own meet record while winning the Morris County triple jump title (40-1½), won the long jump and finished second in the 200 and 400. She placed second in the Championship of America triple jump (40-9½) at Penn Relays.

Orji has verbally committed to Georgia.

Dan Quinn

Will the Morristown graduate be leading Seattle back home to New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII in February? The Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, Quinn is the mastermind behind the top-ranked defense in the NFL. He returned to Seattle this season after two seasons at the University of Florida.

“I talk fast, they learn fast and we all get the job done together,” said Quinn, 48, who is in his 11th season in the NFL. “That’s part of the fun, the teaching part with the guys, being in the classroom and out on the practice field. We do it fast and we hit it a lot. … It’s not a job. It’s kind of a way of life, and it’s awesome.”

Rick Porcello

The Detroit right-hander from Chester had another rollercoaster season. He finished the year 13-8 with a 4.32 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 177 innings. The ERA is his best since his rookie season, and he also had his highest strikeout and ground-ball rates, along with his second-lowest walk rate.

Nick Vena

An eight-time All-America in the shot put at Morristown, Vena has continued to excel in his specialty in college. Vena finished 11th (60-8) at the NCAA Championships last spring, after recording the top throw in Division I (63-9) at the East Regional. Vena also won the Drake Relays with a final throw of 62-½. Indoors, Vena placed 10th in the shot at NCAAs and third at the SEC Championships.

Vena, a Whippany resident, had a 4.0 GPA during his sophomore year. He had transferred from Virginia, where he had won ACC outdoor titles in the shot put and discus, and set the school indoor shot record at 62-1.

Travis Warech

Montville’s Warech continued his professional basketball career with the Pro-A Gotha Rockets, a team based two hours outside of Frankfurt. The 22-year-old guard/forward is currently a starter and so far this season has averaged 9.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Gotha is currently 10th in the Pro-A standings at 7-8. The final regular season game is March 30 with the top eight teams making the playoffs, and Warech hopes that he can help his team into the postseason.

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