The first day of the state Group IV championship meet was an emotional one for Egg Harbor Township High School's James Plummer.
It's the final meet the senior will compete in at his home facility. He's already made his last home meet a special one.
Plummer won his first outdoor state title in the discus Friday, throwing a personal-best 188 feet, 4 inches.
"It's awesome to know that all my training and hard work through the season has led up to this point where I can live out my dream of being an outdoor state discus champion," Plummer said.
Plummer was one of 10 local athletes who became state champions Friday. Groups I, IV and Non-Public B competed at Egg Harbor Township, while Groups II, III and Non-Public A were at Frank Jost Field in South Plainfield. The meets resume today at 11 a.m.
The Eagles won their first-ever South Jersey Group IV championship last week. According to Plummer, EHT was near the top three in the state Group IV title race after Friday's events.
Team scoring is calculated differently this year than in the past. For the first time, only the top two teams from each sectional meet can score. Only athletes on those teams can earn points in an event.
Plummer will compete with teammates Kofi Yamoah and Curtis Fitzpatrick today in the shot put. The Eagles took the top three spots in the event at the South Jersey meet. A repeat would be huge boost to EHT's chances at its first state title.
"I'm going to take today's big PR (personal
record) in the discus and put it forward to what will hopefully be a big (personal record) as well in the shot," Plummer said. "I want to help my team get those points and contend for our first outdoor state championship."
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St. Joseph coach Barry Jackson has four decades of experience.
One thing he's learned about state championship meets - team scoring doesn't matter until the very end.
St. Joseph put itself in good position to contend for a state Non-Public B championship. Rocco Ordille and Miles Pease won events and the Wildcats placed in numerous others.
"We were prepped and ready to run," Jackson said. "We know there's excellent competition."
The Wildcats aren't too comfortable, though.
"I've been ahead by 30 points on the first day," Jackson said.
"Last week we were winning after Day 1 and ended up in second (at the South Jersey meet). I don't even pay attention."
That's not to say the Wildcats don't have their sights set on a state team title. Ordille won the 100-meter dash in 11.0 seconds, which ties former Wildcat Carl Watson's 2011 meet record. St. Joseph took the top three places in the 100. Miles Pease, who was second in the 100, won the 400 in 49.99 seconds.
"To finish 1-2-3 at any level, whether its Non-Public B or Group IV, you're doing an outstanding job,"Jackson said.
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Andrea Olsen has a lengthy list of accomplishments from her final season as a member of the Buena Regional girls team.
She added one more Friday.
Olsen won the state Group II 400-meter hurdles in a meet record 1:00.68.
"It was really close until the end. We were right together the whole time," Olsen said. "It was awesome. I wasn't expecting it at all."
She was one of three local athletes who set meet records. Bridgeton's Braheme Days Jr. won the Group II discus (196-2) and Pleasantville's Jacob Clark won the Group II 1,600 in 4:13.85.
The former 400 hurdles mark was set by Buena's Katrina Sye in 1997. The Chiefs have a long history of success in the hurdles.
"It says that we have a good program, and we just continue to get better," Olsen said.
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Other local state champions were LaDarrell Dixon of Oakcrest (Group III triple jump), Isaac Clark of Pleasantville (Group II 400), Rayshawn Scott of Buena Regional (Group II high jump) and Brianna Young of Barnegat (Group II shot put).
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