#H.S #INDOOR #TRACKDitmars #Hermack #win #sectional #titles #-
TOMS RIVER – Cherokee senior Patrick Ditmars and Lenape senior Colin Hermack captured the 1600 and 3200 races, respectively, in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 Indoor Track and Field Championships last month at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex here.
The victories were the first in the high school careers for both distance runners.
Ditmars won the 1600-meter race in 4:27.79, while Hermack was first in the 3200-meter run at 9:36.92.
“That was Patrick’s first sectional championship which seems improbable given he was second in the Meet of Champions in cross Country, but it’s true,” said Cherokee distance coach Steve Shaklee. “So it was nice to see him take the victory.”
Ditmars became Cherokee’s first indoor sectional champion in the 1600 since Justin Kelly in 2018.
“Patrick had a tough stretch coming out of cross country,” said Shaklee. “He was sick three times from the end of November through early January and, as a result, his training was far from ideal. That is why he had only run two meets prior to sectionals. He still is not completely up to speed but he has been healthy for the past month and his training has been more consistent. As always, are focus is on preparation for the spring season and he should be ready to go for the spring championship season.”
Ditmars was second to Kingsway’s Kyle Rakitis in the same race at the 2022 indoor sectional meet.
“Despite not being 100, we were pretty confident Patrick could win the 1600 at sectionals,” said Shaklee. “He is such a good athlete and so determined that, even when not completely race fit, he is still better than most. Early on, the pace was not as fast as we had hoped for and, as a result, there was a group of six runners up front and Patrick was boxed in. He was finally able to get out on the backstretch of the last lap and pull away for the win.”
Other Lenape district highlights from the meet:
Lenape senior Will Whalen placed sixth overall in the 800-meter run at 2:03.86.
“It was one of the toughest races I have run,” Walen said. “The time was slow, but at least I am moving on (to the state championships). I was last at one point in the race. Had to really work for it. I passed the sixth-place guy with 50 meters to go.”
Lenape junior Keira Gibbon tied her personal-record with a clearance of 4 feet 10 inches to place fourth overall.
“She had three real good attempts at 5-0,” said Lenape coach Gerald Richardson. “The last one she just nicked the bar on the way down with the back of her leg I think.”
Gibbon made the opening height of 4-4 on her first attempt. The junior then needed two tries to clear the bar at the next three heights – 4-6, 4-8 and 4-10.
Cherokee sophomore Samuel Green, who was seeded at 5-8 in the high jump, needed just one attempt in the first four heights (5-4, 5-6, 5-8 and 5-10) of the South Jersey Group 4 competition that included a total of 22 jumpers.
Green was one of five competitors to clear the bar at 5-10 and finished tied for fifth place with Southern Regional senior Atul Sharma.
The Cherokee girls placed third overall with 35 points, their second-high total in school history at the indoor sectional championships.
Kerry O’Day (3rd; 5:12.86) and Megan Niglio (4th; 5:13.03) scored 10 points in the 1600-meter run.
Maddie Van Haren clocked a 7.54 to place fifth in the 55-meter dash trials and then backed that up with a 7.50 in the finals to place third.
Freshman Addie Judernatz clocked a season-best of 7.93 – second-fastest by a freshman in school history – to finish 22nd.
In the 800-meter run, Kelsey Niglio led the way with a second-place time of 2:17.88, followed by Megan Niglio (6th; 2:22.13) and Maddie Meder (7th; 2:24.78).
In the 3200-meter run, Kerry O’Day ran a lifetime indoor best of 11:12.56 to place third. Her time is No. 3 all-tiime indoors and the Cherokee junior class record.
The 4-by-400-meter relay team ended the meet with a season best time of 4:08.64 to place fourth. That relay was Maddie Van Haren (1:3.0), Erin Devaney (1:03.2), Kelsey Niglio (1:00.2) and Emily Butler(62.0).
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