SOUTH PLAINFIELD — The boys 800-meter run at the high school outdoor track and field Meet of Champions on Wednesday featured one of the fastest fields in the meet’s 45-year history.
Twins Isaac and Jacob Clark of Pleasantville High School weren’t nervous before the race, however.
They had each other to rely on.
Isaac won the 800 in 1 minute, 50.12 seconds. Jacob chased his brother to the finish line, finishing second in 1:50.73. Isaac broke his own local record of 1:50.27, which he set at last month’s Cape-Atlantic League championships.
“This is the graduation of my high school career,” Isaac said. “I did what I had to do. I thank my brother for running with me. All the guys did great. They’re all champions.”
Braheme Days Jr. of Bridgeton also excelled at the meet, winning the discus and finishing second in the shot put.
The MOC featured the state’s top track and field athletes. The meet was held at South Plainfield’s Frank Jost Field in perfect conditions — sunny skies with no winds and temperatures in the mid-70s.
The 800 was one of the most anticipated races of the meet. Six runners in the field, including the Pleasantville twins, had run faster than 1:52 this spring.
The twins might not have been nervous about the race, but Pleasantville coach Alan Laws was.
“I knew it was going to be a tight race,” Laws said. “The field was hot.”
Laws said the twins keep each other calm.
“They’re very confident, but they have each other,” Laws said. “That’s the difference. They live in the same house. They talk about the race and race strategy.”
Derrell Manhertz of Kingsway Regional (fourth in 1:52.10) led a tightly bunched pack through the first 400 in 54.3 seconds. Isaac Clark took the lead on the backstretch. Dylan Capwell of Hopatcong (third in 1:51.66) challenged Isaac with 300 meters left.
“When he challenged me, I knew I had to go,” Isaac said. “I know his kick and he knows my kick.”
Isaac held off Capwell and surged toward the finish as the fans in the packed stands roared.
Jacob Clark passed Capwell but never threatened Isaac down the stretch. Leaquann James Jr. of Vineland ran 1:52.21 to finish fifth. Ishmael Muhammad of Oakcrest finished seventh in 1:52.71.
“When I saw him go, I tried to go,” Jacob said of Isaac. “We did our best.”
Isaac began to realize moments after the race ended that his Pleasantville career was over.
“Emotionally, I’m sad,” he said. “I wish there was one more meet, but this is good.”
The twins will both attend South Plains College, a junior college track and field power in Texas.
The Clarks’ performance Wednesday capped an outdoor season that saw them both establish themselves as two of the nation’s best scholastic distance runners.
They won South Jersey and state titles and led the Greyhounds 4x800 relay team to victory at The Penn Relays Carnival in Philadelphia.
The twins will run at a national championship meet in North Carolina later this month, but they won’t wear the Pleasantville uniform there.
“It’s sad to see them go,” Laws said, “but what a way to go out.”
Days also accomplished much in what has been a historic high school career.
But until Wednesday, he had never won an outdoor MOC title.
He finally got one, but his meet still ended in disappointment.
Days won the discus with a throw of 199 feet, 6 inches. The discus throw was a personal best and broke his own local record of 196-2, which he set at last weekend’s state Group II championship.
Days then struggled in the shot put, however, finishing second with a put of 59-7.5. Josh Awotunde of Delsea Regional won with a put of 61-1.
Days’ put was far below his season best of 67-8.25. The senior, who is headed to UCLA, fouled on four of six throws when the shot put did not land inside the sector.
Days went into the meet as the favorite in the shot put and one of the contenders in the discus. He walked away from the shot put shaking his head. He is one of the nation’s best scholastic shot putters.
Days took a few moments to compose himself and then spoke with reporters.
“I started the day with the one of the highest of highs, and finished it pretty low,” he said. “I’m not going to pretend like it doesn’t hurt. But I guess I needed this. I’m going to take it, learn from it and work even harder.”
MEET OF CHAMPIONS
Winners and locals who finished in the top-eight BOYS
100 dash – 1. Jabrill Peppers, Paramus Catholic, 10.80; 3. Rocco Ordille, St. Joe, 11.05
200 dash – 1. Jabrill Peppers, Paramus Catholic, 21.13; 8. Anthony Forrest, 22.22
400 dash – 1. Zyaire Clemes, Trenton Central, 46.50
800 run – 1. Isaac Clark, Pville, 1:50.12; 2. Jacob Clark, Pville, 1:50.73; 5. Leaquan James Jr., Vineland, 1:52.21; 7. Ishmael Muhammad, Oakcrest, 1:52.71
1,600 run – 1. Rob Napolitano, RBC, 4:12.82
3,200 run – 1. Kyle Levermore, Don Bosco, 8:55.41
110 hurdles – 1. Sydney Scruggs, Columbia, 14.15; 3. Chase Toliver, Oakcrest, 14.51
400 hurdles – 1. Dylan Capwell, Hopatcong, 52.43
4x100 relay – 1. Timber Creek, 41.50; 4. St. Joseph, 42.64; 7. Egg Harbor Township, 42.83; 8. Holy Spirit, 42.97
4x800 relay – 1. Kingsway Regional, 7:48.16
4x400 relay – 1. Union Catholic, 3:15.07 Javelin – 1. Chris Mirabelli, Holy Cross, 214-6 Discus – 1. Braheme Days Jr., Bridgeton, 199-6 Shot put – 1. Josh Awotunde, Delsea 51-1; 2. Braheme Days Jr., Bridgeton, 59-7.5; 7. Kofi Yamoah, EHT, 55-9 High jump – 1. David Njoku, Cedar Grove, 6-10; 3. Daniel Jefferson, Oakcrest, 6-6 Long jump – 1. Antwan Dickerson, Pennsauken, 23-2.75; 3. Gary Melton, Cedar Creek, 22-6.50 Triple jump – 1. Dominique Irons, Haddon Heights, 48-10 Pole vault – 1. Eric Geider, Demarest, 15-0
100 dash – 1. Olivia Baker, Columbia, 12.05
200 dash – 1. Olivia Baker, Columbia, 23.95
400 dash – 1. Olivia Baker, Columbia, 53.84
800 run – 1. Madison Holleran, Northern Highlands, 2:08.87
1,600 run – 1. Josette Norris, Tenafly, 4:41.61; 8. Bridget Flynn, Ocean City, 4:55.29
3,200 run – 1. Sarah Disanza, High Point, 10:15.02
100 hurdles – 1. Morgan Harvey, North Hunterdon, 14.41
400 hurdles – 1. Torie Robinson, Winslow Township, 59.56; 8. Andrea Olsen, Buena Regional, 1:02.82
4x100 relay – 1. Winslow Township, 47.27
4x800 relay – 1. Freehold Township, 9:10.69; 6. EHT, 9:22.37
4x400 relay – 1. Columbia, 3:46.86; 8. Southern Regional 3:54.35 Shot put – 1. Jess Woodard, Cherokee, 47-1.25; 3. Lola Agabalogun, EHT, 42.7.75; 5. Brianna Young, Barnegat, 41-1; Discus – 1. Jess Woodard, Cherokee, 161-1; 4. Ashli Weems, Millville, 128-4 Javelin – 1. Lisa Sesink-Clee, Holy Angels, 149-10 High jump – 1. Noel Jancewicz, Robbinsville, 5-8 Triple jump – 1. Keturah Orji, Mount Olive, 42-6.50 Long jump – 1. Keturah Orji, Mount Olive, 19-2 Pole vault – 1. Katlyn Rymarzow, Pope John XXIII, 11-6; 8. Samantha Burns, Southern Regional, and Kaitlyn Dermen, Millville, 10-6
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