Coming home late Wednesday evening from the PHS Elite Meet at Jadwin Gym, the PHS Boys Winter Track team felt prepared for the NJSIAA North Jersey 2 Group III Sectional Championships on February 6.
At sectionals, the team goal is to win. Similarly to the girls team, this is the first time that a win seems possible, if not likely, in several years. However, if the team does complete the sweep of both team titles, it will require positivity and preparation, which the Elite Meet helped. “We just want to make sure we have the right mindset going in and everyone is ready to compete,” said Co-Captain Theo Tel ’16.
The team hopes to get several points from key seniors participating in field events—Tel in the high jump and Nick Birnie ’16 in the pole vault. “I just want to do whatever I can to help the team out [and] get whatever points I can,” Tel said.
Birnie cleared a personal best 13 feet in the pole vault at the Elite Meet, setting a height that is tied for seventh-best in the state. That mark also puts him as the vaulter with the highest clearance going into the sectional.
While Tel and Birnie will focus on only one event at sectionals, several distance runners will be doubling, racing twice. However, all distance athletes only competed in one race at the Elite Meet. “We deliberately [limited the] number of events [our athletes ran to] focus on technical preparation and tactical execution,” said boys distance coach James Smirk.
Nick Delaney ’18 won the 800-meter run in a personal best of 2 minutes, 0.32 seconds. Cy Watsky ’17 was fourth with 2 minutes, 2.10 seconds. Both runners will compete in the 800-meter run at the sectional championships as well.
Alex Roth ’17 also ran the 800-meter run at the Elite Meet, but does not plan to do so at sectionals because of a non-ideal race. “I was trying to get a good seed time for sectionals. It didn’t really go as planned, but I thought it was a good learning experience,” he said. “[At sectionals,] I will be running the 1600 and the 3200,” he said.
According to Will Hare ’18, the results of the Elite Meet in general were very promising. “[It showed] what the team can do [as a whole] and as individuals,” he said. “It’s a great indicator of the whole team aspect that we don’t rely on just one event but we get everything done together.”
Hare placed third in the 1600-meter run at the Elite Meet with a personal best of 4 minutes, 32.25 seconds. Jeremy Taylor ’16 ran 4 minutes, 34.93 seconds, a personal best as well.
In the shorter distances, the team also produced some standout performances. Alex Solopenkov ’17 placed fourth in the 55-meter dash in 6.76 seconds, which he will run at sectionals. Solopenkov also placed eighth in the 200-meter dash in a time of 23.84 seconds.
Across the board, the team will need good performances if they want to achieve the goal of winning a team title. “If we are to win the team title, it is going to involve everyone stepping up,” Roth said. “The burden is not on any one person. It is going to require effort to make it happen.”