St. Augustine Prep senior Sincere Rhea won the 55-meter hurdles for the second consecutive season Saturday at the Meet of Champions at the John Bennett Indoor Sports Complex in Toms River.
Rhea was first in the field of eight sprinters in 7.22 seconds to capture the title. The 17-year-old from Maurice River Township is only the fifth athlete in state history to win the 55 hurdles twice at the indoor MOC, according to St. Augustine coach Matt Forrest.
“Honestly, it feels amazing,” Rhea said. “There are some crazy athletes on that list, so to be on that list too is very humbling. I just wanted to put my name in the record books one last time. I had a blast today.”
Rhea, who has a personal record of 7.20 in the 55, had his second- and third-fastest times in the preliminaries (7.25 and 7.39). The meet record is 7.19, which was Rhea’s goal.
“No race is guaranteed,” Rhea said. “I just have to run with my full potential, which I believe I did.”
Last Saturday, Rhea won the state Non-Public A championship in the same event for the third straight year. His time was 7.39.
“It was really special,” said Forrest, who is also the Hermits’ cross country and outdoor track and field coach. “He is an unbelievable kid and works very hard. I am very proud of him in every step of the way.”
Rhea also placed eighth in the 55 dash in 6.60. But Forrest said that Rhea began that race immediately after winning the 55 hurdles.
Rhea said it was a tough outing on his body.
“When he crossed the finish line, I went over to congratulate him,” Forrest said. “But then he had to run right over to the next event. He almost held the officials up.”
Forrest said he was impressed with the improvement in Rhea’s maturity and leadership during the indoor season, especially around his teammates.
“It has been such an amazing ride,” Forrest said. “I already taught him all that I could. This season, it was all him. To watch him and to be a part of the ride, it really is great.”
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.
“This definitely boosts my confidence going into the spring,” Rhea said.”I have some really big goals.”
Pleasantville’s Gabriel Moronta finished third in the 800 run (1:54.41). The Greyhounds’ Benjamin Clark, Quentin Bundy, Kindersin Cajuste and Moronta placed eighth in the 400 relay (3:28.35).
Mainland Regional’s Kevin Antczak placed fourth in the 3,200 (9:18.59), and teammate Devin Anderson finished eighth in the 200 (22.88). Bridgeton’s Taz’Mire Burton finished sixth in the 400 (50.56).
Ocean City’s Jaden Tocci-Rodgers tied for seventh in the high jump (6 feet). Southern Regional’s David Springstead and Egg Harbor Township’s Mubeen Momodu also jumped 6 feet and, based on attempts, tied for 13th.
Millville’s Daniel Fenton finished ninth in the 400 (50.73).
Southern’s Liam Anderson was ninth in the shot put (51 feet). Teammate Jackson Braddock finished 11th in the 1,600 (4:21.15). Absegami’s Keishaun Joga was 13th in the 800 (2:00.02), and teammate Oratile Moeng was 16th (2:01.90). Hammonton’s Caleb Nartey and Cedar Creek’s Malachi Melton each finished tied for 15th in the 55 dash (6.65).
Vineland’s William Ramos tied for 14th in the pole vault (13 feet). Pinelands Regional’s Jonathan Makar was 16th in the shot put (48-05), and Southern’s Joe Guglielmo was 21st (47-07).
The Hermits’ Nkem Ota was 17th in the 400 (51.75). The Eagles’ Anthony Vazquez was 18th in the 55 hurdles (7.90).
The Red Raiders’ Luke Kramer placed 22nd in the 1,600 (4:30.43), and Wildwood’s Leo Zaccaria was 25th (4:31.35).
The Thunderbolts’ Johnell Orama was 28th in the 55 dash (6.77).