Rarely does a defending state champion fly under the radar.
Especially a squad that has won six of the past seven Group 3 state titles like the Timber Creek boys’ track team.
However, the Chargers had been relatively quiet this spring, at least by their lofty standards, until Saturday when they won the Camden County Large School Championship.
Perhaps the reason Timber Creek is gliding along rather anonymously was because the Chargers were hit hard by graduation, including losing Jamaad Muse, who won the 200 and 400 state titles last year. The University of Houston recruit also anchored the gold medal winning 4×400 relay team (3:19.90).
Coach Chris Grottini returned dependable star power in middle distance runner Dominick Munson, jumper Larry Russell and thrower Osemwingie Asemota to make the Chargers at least a team to watch this spring.
But what Grottini didn’t expect was the emergence of sophomore Dante Witcher. He won the 400 meters at the Camden County Championships in 51.29.
“I don’t think anyone knows who he is,” Grottini said. “This was like let’s see what we have and we found out with him we have a premier quarter miler waiting to happen and we can run him on just about any relay we can put him on.”
Witcher anchored the gold medalist 4×400 relay team of Jason Butler, Jerryl McCoy and Darius Carroway that clocked a 3:24.82 on the Haddon Township track.
“Everyone thinks we graduated everyone and we’ve had guys like (Witcher), Jerryl and Jason waiting in the wings,” Grottini said. “We are still there largely because of what (Witcher) ended up doing (Saturday).”
Butler, a junior, ran the first leg.
“It meant a lot to win this relay because we lost a lot of seniors last year and everyone was sleeping on us,” he said.
McCoy ran the second leg.
“I’m a senior and I was told to lead the team and I think I did a good job of that,” he said.
Carroway, a freshman, handed the baton to Witcher.
“It means everything to win the 4×4,” Carroway said. “I have three more years with it.”
Russell won the long jump (20-10) and the triple jump (44-8) and placed third in the high jump (6-0).
Munson won the 800 (1:57.86) and the 1,600 (4:16.74) and took second in the 3,200 (9:46.19).
Asemota won the shot put (53-0).
Witcher also took fifth in the 200 at 23.05
“I knew all the seniors were graduating and I had to work hard so I could help my team,” said Witcher, who plays cornerback and slot back on the football team.
On Wednesday, at the Olympic Conference Championships, Timber Creek captured another gold medal in the 4×400 relay as Butler, Jerome Gibson, McCoy and Witcher clocked a 3:22.45.
In the 400, Witcher placed second (49.80) behind Lenape’s Kevin Harrison (49.44).
“He is going to give us everything he possibly can on the track,” Grottini said about Witcher. “He has a good work ethic and practice and he definitely took the bull by the horns for us (Saturday) because we really didn’t know what we were going to have in sprints.”
Also in the Olympic meet, Munson won gold in the 1,600 (4:18.79) while Russell took first in the triple jump (47-3) and Asemota won the shot put and (49-81/4) and discus (146-0).
Kevin Callahan; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org