JACKSON TOWNSHIP - As soon as the team winner of the Ocean County high school girls track and field championship was announced Monday night, a seemingly endless number of Southern Regional athletes ran across the field to collect the first-place trophy.
The Rams won their fifth straight county title by outscoring Toms River North 123-98 at Jackson Liberty High School. Southern has featured some of the state's best athletes in the past, but it won Monday - as it has the past few seasons - with its depth.
"This is big," Southern sprinter and jumper Brianna Angellella said. "We weren't sure how we were going to do (Monday). We were neck-and-neck with (Toms River North). It's really important to win. It would (have) been really upsetting to lose."
The Rams scored in 14 of 16 events. Angellella won the 200-meter dash and the high jump and finished second in the 400 dash for Southern.
"We put as much emphasis on every event, regardless if it's a track or field event," Southern coach Brian Zatorski said. "We try to spread out our best athletes as much as we can. Winning team trophies has always been our goal."
The meet began last Thursday. It was supposed to be completed Saturday, but rain postponed it until Monday.
Southern won two events Monday. Angellella ran a personal-best 25.63 seconds to win the 200. Carly Dellavalle threw 106 feet, 6 inches to win the javelin.
Angellella's 200 victory was a bit unexpected, She was supposed to run the 800, but Zatorski shifted her to the 200 at the last minute because he thought he could score more points in the dash.
Angellella pulled way in the last 30 meters to win the 200. Her victory was especially important because Toms River North girls finished second and third.
"It feels good to win," Angellella said. "I was seeded first going into the finals and that put a lot of pressure on me. The curve is not really my thing. As soon as I hit the straightaway, I just (pumped) my arms."
In addition to their Monday victories, Southern won two events Thursday. Angellella jumped 5-2 in the high jump. Breanna Wood finished threw 112-08 to win the discus.
The Rams scored 32 points in the three throwing events. In addition to the wins by Wood and Dellavalle, Renee Chambers finished third in the discus and Isabel Barsch third in the shot put.
"The throws have always been our Achilles Heal," Zatorski said. "But they saved our bacon this meet."
This was supposed to be somewhat of a rebuilding season for Southern. The Rams graduated several talented athletes from last season's team that won the South Jersey Group IV title. They feature few seniors this spring. But Southern should again be among the contenders for the S.J. Group IV title when that meet is held at Egg Harbor Township on May 24-25.
"We thought this was going to be a learning year," Zatorski said. "But everybody's learning and jelling at the right time. We're expanding our goals."
Southern pole vaulter Samantha Burns epitomized the Rams' attitude. She led the pole vault until the final vaults when Julia Schuler of Toms River East cleared 10-6 to win. Burns and teammate Nicola Dragonetti each vaulted 10-0 to finish second and third, respectively.
Burns was disappointed until Zatorski told her that she and Dragonetti had combined to score 14 points, enough to give the Rams an insurmountable lead over Toms River North.
"They get it," Zatorski said of his athletes. "We have to train them into that. The freshmen don't understand it. But they learn it from the other girls. It's the way we do it."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Shot put-Alex Potterton, Pinelands Regional, 51-10.25 Javelin – Cinjun Erskine, Barnegat, 180-9
1,600 relay-Southern (John Furlong, Mike Evans, Cody Raynor, Rob Dengel) 3:29.87
1,600 run-Danielle Leavitt, Ocean City, 5:00.55 High jump – Brianna Angellella, Southern, 5-2 Discus – Breanna Wood, Southern, 112-8 Shot put – Brianna Young, Barnegat, 39-1
3,200 run-Lauren Zodl, Pinelands Regional, 11:13.48
200 dash-Brianna Angellella, Southern, 25.63 Javelin – Carly Dellavalle, Southern, 106-6