BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — Championship season for South Jersey high school track and field kicked off Thursday with the Atlantic County Championships at Buena Regional.

Egg Harbor Township’s girls team ran away with the team title with 162.08 points. Mainland Regional, last year’s champions, was second with 62.50.

Lauren Princz, an EHT sophomore, said the team was confident from the very beginning.

“We’re feeling great,” said Princz, 16, of Egg Harbor Township. “Everybody’s been working hard for months now, and we’re just excited.”

Princz earned 10 points for her team with a 100-meter dash win in 12.50 seconds, and helped them pick up another 10 when she won the 4x100 relay with Gabriel Germann, Jadyn Laramore and Mariah Stephens in 48.42. She ended her day with a 200-meter win in 25.33.

The EHT boys won the team title for the second year in a row, posting a 122 team score. Pleasantville was second (82).

Mubeen Momodu had wins in the triple jump (44-02.75) and high jump (5-10) for the Eagles. Gobi Thurairajah took home gold in the boys 1,600 (4:26.93).

Other winners included Cedar Creek junior Malachi Melton, who became the county’s 100-meter champion in 11.27.

“(Winning) felt great,” the 17-year-old from Mays Landing said.

“I was looking forward to racing (Pleasantville senior) Sahmir Jones because he’s always pushing me. But he wasn’t there today, so I had an advantage.”

This year was also the final county championship meet for several Press All-Stars.

Atlantic City’s Claudine Smith won the triple jump (38-06) and 100 hurdles (14.49) in her last trip to Buena.

For the 17-year-old senior, the event will always hold a special place in her heart.

“(Being at my final county meet) is surreal,” said Smith, who will compete for NCAA Division I Rutgers University next year. “I love this meet. I’ve progressed through it throughout my years.”

St. Augustine Prep senior Sincere Rhea also put on a great performance in his county sendoff. The 2019 Press Indoor Track Athlete of the Year won the 110 hurdles in 14.16.

He used the event to help prepare for the next level and work on his technique.

“I’m trying a new approach: Seven steps (between hurdles) instead of eight to try to get me ready for the big leagues next year,” said Rhea, 18, of Maurice River Township. “It’s been working out pretty good for me.”

Next season, he’ll attend Penn State on a full track and field scholarship.

Rhea, like Smith, was in awe by how his high school career has flown by.

“It feels like last year, I was a freshman,” Rhea said. “But it’s done, it’s over. So I’m just trying to soak in all in.”

Oakcrest’s Brielle Smith, who will compete at Stanford next year, also left counties with a win. She took home gold in javelin with a throw of 146-01.

Next up is the Cape-Atlantic League Championships on Thursday at Bridgeton High School. The South Jersey Championships are held May 24 and 25.

ACIT makes counties debut

This year brought an unfamiliar sight to Buena.

Atlantic County Institute of Technology had several runner-up finishes at counties in the program's inaugural season.

Freshman Joslynn Whaley finished second in the 100 (12.55) and 200 (25.95), right behind Princz. She also finished second in the 4x100 with Amiyah Stephens, Javonna Williams and Ashauna Francis in 49.42.

Other winners

Girls: Gabrielle Germann, Lauren Maldonado, Hailey Lovinsky and Anne Rutledge (EHT) won the 4x400 (4:04.23). Angela Bannan (Holy Spirit) won the 800 (2:26.65). Angelina Pollino (Absegami) won the high jump (4-10). Anne Rutledge (EHT) won the 400 (57.95). Shakiyah Hassan (Atlantic City) won the discus throw (110-03). Isabella Leak (EHT) won the 1600 (5:27.63). Angela Bannan (Holy Spirit) won the 3200 (11:51.05). Diamond McLaughlin (Absegami) won the 400 hurdles (1:04.50). Isabella DelGesso (Buena Reg.) won the shot put (35-11.75). Kayla Cotrell, Isabella Leak, Madison Morgan and Michaela Pomatto (EHT) won the 4x800 (10:15.79). Sophia Crozier-Carole (Mainland Reg.) won the pole vault (9-00).

Boys: Quentin Bundy, Gabriel Moronta, Jalen Freeman and Sahmir Jones (Pleasantville) won the 4x400 (3:23.50). Kevin Antczak (Mainland Reg.) won the 3200 (9:32.14). Nate Karl (Hammonton) won the discus throw (158-02). Kevin Anderson (Mainland Reg.) won the 200 (22.55). Gabriel Moronta (Pleasantville) won the 800 (1:56.92). Connor Bond (Oakcrest) won the javelin throw (151-10). Nate Karl (Hammonton) won the shot put (49-02.50). Ahmad Brown (Holy Spirit) won the 400 (49.26). Quentin Bundy (Pleasantville) won the 400 hurdles (55.28). Jacob Cobb, Noah Davis-Logan, Jaylen Decoteu and Nkem Ota (St. Augustine) won the 4x100 (43.33). Joshua Cohen (EHT) won the pole vault (14-00). Leonard Bustos, Kyle Hartman, Mike Liberty and Marc Rodriguez (Oakcrest) won the 4x800 (8:22.36). Malachi Melton (Cedar Creek) won the long jump (20-11).

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