Southern Regional, Barnegat Track Athletes Fare Well at MOC; Local Hoops, SRHS Hockey Teams Ousted in State Tourney
Daylight Saving Time will be coming up soon – March 12, in fact – which means the winter sports season is quickly drawing to a close. And such was the case for the indoor track season Feb. 25-26, when roughly a half-dozen local athletes competed in the Meet of Champions at the Bennett Center in Toms River.
With three individuals and its 4x400-meter relay squad competing in the girls MOC on Feb. 26, Southern Regional athletes fared well, but none cracked the top eight in their respective events.
The highest finisher among the Rams was senior Sabrina Woodlee, who had a stellar season and placed ninth in a loaded 800-meter field during which the finishers from second through 10th were separated by just over a second. Woodlee crossed the line in 2:17.54, missing a top-five spot by just .52.
Meanwhile, senior thrower Justine Hosszu was the next-highest finisher for the Rams, tossing the shot put 38 feet, 8¾ inches to place 10th. Junior Morgan Koeppen, who also had a phenomenal winter, finished 14th in a very good pole vault field, in which several girls cleared 12 feet. Koeppen managed to clear the bar at her personal-best height of 10 feet, 6 inches before bowing out.
In the 4x400 relay, the team of Shannon Lytle, Caitlin Hambor, Koeppen and Woodlee combined for a time of 4:06.67 and finished 19th overall.
In the boys MOC on Feb. 25, a pair of Barnegat athletes took on the state’s best and also fared well – senior Gunnar Pearson placed 14th in the 800 with a time of 1:59.53, while junior Nick Kovaly cleared 6 feet in the high jump to finish 15th overall.
Southern, Pinelands Regional
Girls Hoops Teams Bounced
Many girls basketball teams began action in the NJSIAA tournament on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 27-28; two of the three local squads were unable to advance past their first-round contests.
In South Jersey Group IV on Feb. 27, the 11th-seeded Southern girls put up a great fight but were upended by sixth-seeded Clearview, 62-59, and finished their season 14-13 overall. After a 14-14 deadlock in the first quarter, the Pioneers (17-9) went on a 15-8 second-quarter spurt to take a 29-22 lead into halftime. The Rams battled back, outscoring their opponent 20-15 in the third, and were up by one, 51-50, in the fourth quarter before the Pioneers regained the lead late in the game.
Lauren Cruse led the Rams with 19 points, while Colleen Brady hit for 11 points. Kaela Curtin and Anna Spaschak each added eight points. Jacqueline Ward and Shauna McHale snagged seven and six rebounds, respectively. Mikayla Nicolini, who missed most of the season with an injury, managed four points and four assists.
In South Jersey Group III on Feb. 28, the 16th-seeded Pinelands girls squad faced the nearly impossible task of beating the top seed in the first round and ended up getting bounced out by powerful Ocean City, 49-19. The Red Raiders (26-1) took a 16-2 first-quarter lead and never looked back. Ellie Sorrentino and Jessie Rising led the Wildcats (10-15) with nine and eight points, respectively.
Southern Ice Hockey
Team Knocked Off
After a relatively easy, 6-0 victory over Old Tappan during the first round of the NJSIAA Public A ice hockey tournament, eighth-seeded Southern Regional was glad to have another game at home. But ninth-seeded Princeton spoiled the last home stand for the Rams’ seniors, as the Tigers (19-3-4) knocked off the Rams, 3-2, in overtime.
Senior Jack Conrad staked Southern (18-8-1) to a 1-0 lead 6:11 into the game when he sent a shot, assisted by Trent Markley and Paul Keyes, past Princeton goaltender Sawyer Peck, who made 38 saves for the game. Princeton tied the game early in the second period on a goal by Justin Joyce, but at 12:09 of the second, Nolan Ruff took a Hunter Bello feed and hit the back of the net to make it 2-1. About 30 seconds later, though, the Tigers again knotted the game on a Brendon McCormick goal.
In the third period, the Rams kept firing shots at Peck while the Tigers tried to get the go-ahead goal past Southern goalie Cam Conrad, who finished with 36 saves. But it wasn’t until the 8:30 mark of the first overtime period that the tie was broken by Princeton’s Aidan Trainor, ending the Rams’ season.
— David Biggy