Gabriel Moronta won his first individual state championship for the Pleasantville High School boys indoor track and field team in the 800-meter dash Saturday.

The junior set his new personal best with a time of 1 minute, 56.71 seconds. The championships were held at the Bennett Center in Toms River.

Next Saturday, he’ll return to Toms River to compete in the Meet of Champions.

“I’ve been working on (getting my time down) since my freshman year,” Moronta said. “I wasn’t really as excited as I’d normally be because it’s just so unbelievable.”

According to Pleasantville track and field coach Alan Laws Sr., however, the achievement was inevitable.

“He ran a 2:08 (in the 800) his freshman year,” Laws said. “And I said, ‘This kid’s going to be a state champion.’”

“We’ve been talking about (getting to states) since his freshman year.”

Last spring, Moronta helped Pleasantville’s outdoor team win the team state championship with a strong performance in the 4x400, in which the Greyhounds took third.

The junior also made his first trip to states for an individual event at last year’s indoor championship. Leaving the Bennett Center empty-handed gave him even more motivation to prevent that this year.

Moronta, who’s originally from the Dominican Republic, also competed in the 400 on Saturday. He finished fourth (50.40), setting a new under-18 record in his home country. He first broke it at the sectionals last week.

“I know I can do better,” he said.

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