A team-by-team look at the local boys track and field season, which begins next week. Last season’s 2012 dual-meet records in parentheses.
Absegami (7-2) should perform well in dual meets with key returnees such as senior distance runner Salman Khalid and senior sprinter Tyler Bing ready to generate points.
Atlantic City (4-5) would like to have a .500 dual-meet record. The Vikings look to be strong in sprints and jumps but could struggle against teams with solid distance and throwing programs. A.C. features seniors Richard Harris (sprints/jumps), Keith Street (hurdles/jumps) and Demond Cottman (sprints/jumps). Senior football and basketball star Dayshawn Reynolds is a key newcomer.
Egg Harbor Township (8-1) has its sights set on Cape-Atlantic League, South Jersey and state Group IV championships. The Eagles are a vastly talented team featuring two of the state’s best throwers in Rutgers University-bound senior Kofi Yamoah and Clemson University-bound senior James Plummer. Senior Curtis Fitzpatrick excels in sprints and the shot put. Egg Harbor Township has plenty of depth behind those three.
Hammonton (6-4-1) will look for leadership from two standout athletes. Junior distance runner Lou Corgliano, the 2012 Cross Country Runner of the Year, won the S.J. Group III 3,200 and was sixth at the Meet of Champions this winter. Senior Aidan Skelly was the S.J. Group III indoor pole vault champion.
Mainland Regional (1-7) hopes to improve on its second consecutive one-win season.
Millville (2-6) aims to be competitive within the American Conference. William Poley finished second in the S.J. Group IV pole vault during the indoor season.
Oakcrest (9-0) will rebuild after last year’s historic season. The Falcons won the state Group III championship among grueling competition but lost many of those key athletes, some of whom now compete for NCAA Division I colleges and universities. Returning are defending seniors Dan Jefferson, the defending Meet of Champions high jump winner, and Chase Toliver, who won the state Group III indoor 55-meter hurdles this winter.
Ocean City (4-5) will rely on its perennially strong distance and pole vault programs to be competitive in the conference and contend for another Cape May County title. Senior Kevin Scott set a school record for the 3,200 during the indoor season and has a shot to break the outdoor mark as well, according to Red Raiders coach Matt Purdue.
St. Augustine Prep (0-5) looks to improve on last year’s winless season but may lack the depth to compete against bigger schools in dual meets.
Vineland (5-3-1) has plenty of depth and should compete with the top of the conference. The Fighting Clan have balanced talent, led by senior LeaQuan James, a distance runner who won the S.J. Group IV 800 race during winter track.
Bridgeton (8-0) will face tough competition in defending its conference title. The Bulldogs are led by senior thrower Braheme Days Jr. Days, who will attend UCLA on a full athletic scholarship, owned the best scholastic shot put throw in the nation during the winter (69 feet). Most recently, he won the indoor Meet of Champions shot put (66-10½). An injury forced Days, a two-time defending Group II shot put and discus champion, to miss the outdoor MOC last spring.
Buena Regional (5-3) has a talented, senior-laden team that aspires to contend for conference, S.J. and state Group II titles. Senior Rayshawn Scott excels in jumps and was a state qualifier in all three over the winter. Anthony Forrest (junior, sprints), Kaeshan Deal (senior, sprints/jumps), Mike Busby (senior, throws) and Darryl Guilford (senior, throws) are among the Chiefs’ veteran leaders. Newcomers Mike Torres, a senior who switched from the baseball team after a successful winter track season, and freshman Quadir Albright also should help the squad.
Cedar Creek (4-4) has come a long way since its inaugural 2011 season. The Pirates’ strong senior class, led by defending state Group I long jump champion Gary Melton, should keep them in the National Conference race. Pole vaulter Zach Zachowski, hurdler Simuel Jackson and thrower Matt Conover also lead Cedar Creek.
Holy Spirit (3-6) will combat its low numbers with the strength of some talented leaders. Junior AJ Dawson figures to be among the area’s top sprinters. New to the Spartans is basketball standout Junior Saintel.
Lower Cape May Regional (2-6) graduates second-team Press All-Star sprinter Simba Hampton. The Caper Tigers will try to be competitive in a tough conference.
Middle Township (6-1-1) enjoyed great success in last year’s dual meets despite preseason expectations to hover around .500. The Panthers return many of those same athletes, including senior sprinter Terrance Toney, senior long jumper Kyree Johnson and sophomore distance runner Ryan Herlihy. This time around, Middle expects to succeed.Toney became the first Panther since 1996 to qualify for the indoor MOC.
Pleasantville (5-2) is coming off a state Group I indoor championship and is a favorite for conference, S.J. and state titles. Returning for their final season are senior twins Isaac and Jacob Clark. Isaac won the 800-meter run at the indoor MOC in a meet-record 1 minute, 51.72 seconds, while Jacob won the state Group I 800 race.
St. Joseph (1-9) expects a winning dual meet season and coach Barry Jackson says he believes the Wildcats have a legitimate shot at a Non-Public B title. Field events are a concern. Miles Pease (senior, sprints), BJ Mitchell (sophomore, jumps), Rocco Ordille (sophomore, sprints/jumps) and Val Vadino (sophomore, distance) are expected to lead St. Joseph.
Wildwood Catholic (1-8) lacks the numbers to compete with some of the conference’s stronger schools but will focus on individual achievements of its athletes.
Barnegat (3-2) has a strong returning core and promising newcomers to give the program the depth to compete for the Shore Conference B South title. The Bengals will rely heavily on senior leadership from standout distance runner Matt Nelson, thrower and high jumper Cinjun Erskine and Jaleel Darbo, who was a state Group II qualifier in the long jump in 2012.
Lacey Township (1-4) features a large group of freshmen and new sophomores. The core of its team will be the distance runners, led by senior Kevin Charette and junior Sean Corbley. Coach Chuck Edens said he hopes incoming sprinters and jumpers will help the Lions earn meet points.
Pinelands Regional (0-5) continues to grow in talent as the team prepares to improve on a sixth-place finish in the B South division. The Wildcats return a few key athletes in each area of competition.
Southern Regional (1-4) will lean on its growing distance program along with a few key athletes in other events in a tough A South division.
Cumberland Regional (1-4) has a relatively young squad but an impressively large turnout of 68 athletes. The Colts will count on leadership from its five seniors.
Wildwood (0-5) returns several strong individuals, such as Liam Munz and Andre Broughton, who are expected to lead the Warriors. A lack of numbers will continue to hinder Wildwood’s chances of a Tri-County Classic division title.
Brittany Grugan, Staff Writer