MANSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Sincere Rhea, Claudine Smith and Brielle Smith capped their decorated high school track and field careers with Meet of Champions titles Saturday.
Brielle Smith, of Oakcrest High School, won the girls javelin for the second consecutive season with a 157-foot throw at the 51st annual MOC at Northern Burlington County Regional High School.
Claudine Smith, of Atlantic City High School, won the girls triple jump (a career-best 42 feet, 2 inches).
St. Augustine Prep senior Rhea won the boys 400-meter dash in 47.89 seconds.
“To go back-to-back, it’s just amazing,” said Brielle Smith, 18, of Mays Landing. “It’s an amazing feat and a great accomplishment to just do this. I know there are very few people that are able to say what I can say.
“I’m just very grateful and really proud.”
Rhea did not run his specialty, the 110 hurdles, because it was held right after the 400 dash.
Other local athletes also excelled at the meet.
Egg Harbor Township’s Lauren Princz finished second in the girls 100 dash in 11.87. Dennisha Page (Woodrow Wilson) won in 11.86. Princz also placed fourth in the 200 dash (24.28).
Millville’s Bryanna Craig placed second in the high jump (5-06). The Thunderbolts’ Brionah Patterson, Malea Broome, Ciera Bowman and Breacain McLenahan was fourth in the 100 relay (47.58).
The Eagles’ Mubeen Momodu was third in boys triple jump (48-01.50). Ocean City’s Lane Owens was fifth in the javelin (185-08).
Rhea had only run the 400 dash three times this season prior to Saturday. But St. Augustine coach Matt Forest was not surprised he won the title with little competitive experience.
Rhea, who at the indoor MOC in February became only the fifth athlete in state history to win the 55 hurdles twice, had never won an outdoor MOC title.
“I feel really accomplished,” said Rhea, 18, of Maurice River Township. “Last year, (coming in second) in the 110 hurdles, it really hurt, but I learned to persevere and bounce back and make people know my name.”
The Vikings’ Claudine Smith had never won an outdoor MOC title prior to her triple jump victory Saturday.
“It is a great feeling to do that and a great way to end my high school career,” said Smith, who will continue her track and field career at Rutgers University. “I’m so happy to accomplish (a career best). I’ve been working hard for that.”
She also finished second in the 100 hurdles (13.67) Saturday.
Smith broke more than 11 records at Atlantic City, according to coach Roy Wesley Jr.
“It’s just phenomenal,” Wesley said. “That’s something that South Jersey and Atlantic City High School will remember for a good while.
“She got a ton of records (sectional and state). She is probably one of the strongest track and field athletes we’ve known at Atlantic City High School.”
Last season, the Falcons’ Brielle Smith broke the MOC record with a throw of 163-08. The senior won four straight sectional and state Group II titles.
Smith will throw the javelin next season at Stanford University.
“It’s hard to find the words,” Smith said. “It’s great to be able to end the season so well with so many accolades to add the list of what I’ve already accomplished, especially coming into high school not even knowing what a javelin is.”
Last month, Rhea won three South Jersey Non-Public A titles in the 110 hurdles and the 200 and 400 dashes.
Last weekend, he won the 400 dash and 110 hurdles in the state Non-Public A championship. He arrived at St. Augustine four years ago as a football player.
Rhea will continue his track and field career next season at Penn State University.
“He’s the best runner I’ve ever seen,” Forrest said. “And he was always known as a hurdler, and that didn’t bother him because he had his niche.
“But the thing that was really nice was is for him to prove that he was not only one of the best hurdlers in New Jersey but also one of the top sprinters in New Jersey this season.”
Forrest said talking too much about Rhea’s high school career being over would make him emotional.
“It’s like losing a son,” Forrest said. “He’s unbelievable.”
Rhea said he likes the 400 and wants to run that and the hurdles for the Nittany Lions.
“It means everything ending this way,” he said, “For the St. Augustine community, my family, for me, my supporters and for South Jersey, putting us back on the map again.”
Brielle Smith wanted to end her senior season with a better throw Saturday. But her 2018 record remains the standard others must try to reach in the javelin.
“To have my name next to that, it’s great,” she said. “I always have really high goals, but the fact that I was able to catch that one, one of the biggest goals of all, is awesome. ... Hopefully, it will stand for a really long time.”