When he isn’t competing on the track, Sincere Rhea enjoys listening to music, watching movies and spending time with his family and friends — like most high school students.
But when that starting pistol sounds, Rhea is unlike the ordinary athlete.
On Feb. 23, the St. Augustine Prep senior won the 55-meter hurdles at the Meet of Champions for the second consecutive season. Rhea, who finished in 7.22 seconds, was only the fifth athlete in state history to win the 55 hurdles twice at the indoor MOC.
Rhea also won the 60 hurdles at the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championship in a personal-best 7.69. He is The Press Boys Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“This past winter meant the world to me,” Rhea said. “With this being my last indoor season, it just allowed me to soak it all in. My one goal was to keep my name in the record books and hopefully let my name be remembered for years to come. I wanted to leave a legacy at St. Augustine Prep.”
Rhea won the 55 hurdles at the Eastern States Indoor Track and Field Championship in a personal-best 7.20, which was the second fastest time in the country this season, according to milesplit.com.
The 17-year-old from Maurice River Township also captured the state Non-Public A championship in the 55 hurdles for the third straight year. Rhea won the same event at The Armory Coaches Hall of Fame Invitational and the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships.
The South Jersey Track Coaches Association selected Rhea as The Boys Performer of the Year for the indoor season.
But there is more to Rhea than just his medals.
“The thing that amazes me about a kid with so much talent, it’s never about him,” St. Augustine coach Matt Forrest said. “It has never been about those personal accolades. That is never his only focus. He has always been a team-first guy.”
Rhea, who likes spaghetti and attending math class, is always looking to improve. Forrest, who is the outdoor track and field coach, said Rhea wants to learn the triple jump in the spring.
“It has been an unbelievable ride,” Forrest said. “At some point, you wish you could have more to teach him as a coach. He is always willing to do something new, though.”
This season, Rhea finished fourth at the state Non-Public A and eighth in the MOC in the 55 dash.
“I consider myself a humble guy,” Rhea said. “I mean, I know I am one of the more talented athletes on the track, but I am willing to put all that aside to help my team and make them happy. I am trying to keep that type of environment at St. Augustine.
“I would rather be a team player than an individual player any day of the week.”
Rhea, who was The Press’ Boys Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year as a junior, will attend Penn State University on a full track and field scholarship.
“I put everything I had on the line this season,” Rhea said. “I am beyond grateful for everything that has happened to me so far.”
Coach of the Year
Matt Purdue and the Ocean City High School boys indoor track and field team captured the South Jersey Group III title. It was the Red Raiders’ first indoor sectional team title since 2010 and their first indoor state Group III title since 2011.
Purdue is The Press Boys Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.
“It was an exciting season,” the second-year coach said. “We had a good nucleus of the team back from last spring and the fall where the boys won the South Jersey (Group III) title. We scored a lot of points in a variety of events and had a great team effort.”
Purdue wanted to thank Ocean City boys distance coach Steve Hoffman for the success of the program.
“I am grateful to work with a great coaching staff,” Purdue said. “I can’t take all the credit.”