Southern Track and Field Squads Expect to Score Big
After winning the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV discus championship with a throw topping 165 feet last spring, Southern Regional’s Joe Miele had a disappointing finish to the Meet of Champions, placing 29th while tossing the disc less than 138 feet.
So, needless to say, Miele has an agenda this season. The first part is to help the Rams’ boys track and field score plenty of points as Southern tries to win a Shore Conference Class A South title. The second is to finish much higher at the Meet of Champions in June. Oh, and there is a third part – and a fourth, if you can believe it.
“I want to try to beat Anthony Stroffolino’s school record this year,” said the junior, who also throws the shot put for the Rams. “I think the record is somewhere in the 167-foot range, and my best is 165, so that’s doable. And while I might have an outside shot this year, I’d like to compete at the Penn Relays. I’m setting the bar high.”
But Miele isn’t merely setting the bar high for himself. The plan is to lead the throwing crew – at least in discus and shot put – to new heights and inspire the rest of the throwers on the squad to chase him toward improved results and more team points.
“We have a lot of good throwers, and not just in the discus and shot, but also in the javelin,” he said. “We believe we can benefit the team and it’s good to know that we’re contributing. We’re excited for the season. We’re going to go to work and take care of business.”
The Rams took care of business during their opening victories over Brick Memorial (101-39) and Toms River East (84-56) on April 5. Miele led the way in the discus with a throw of 148 feet, 9 inches and in the shot with a toss of 43 feet, ½ inch. Liam Anderson took third in the shot against East with a throw of 38 feet, 9 inches. The javelin duo of Joe Gugliemo (149-9) and Jackson Donahower (143-5) scored eight points against the Mustangs, and William Opet’s 138-8 helped sweep East.
But Southern is more than a solid throwing crew this spring. The jumps guys are stacked pretty well, too, especially with senior Donahower leading the way in the long jump and triple jump, which he won against both East and Memorial. John Stout and Lucas Searles also figured to be prominent in the long jump, while Searles and David Springstead should do well with the triple jump, which they swept on April 5. Springstead is the premier high jumper as well.
“We have a bunch of standout guys in the jumps,” said Springstead, a sophomore who cleared 5 feet, 8 inches to win the high jump against the Raiders and Mustangs, as well as the 110-meter hurdles. “We’re pretty deep now. Last year, we weren’t quite there yet, but we’ve hit a different level.”
And while Springstead also can score occasional points in the pole vault, that event likely will be led by Mason Schnell, who cleared 11 feet, 6 inches for the win on April 5.
So, that leads to the Rams’ runners. Junior Paul Keyes, who easily won the 800-meter run in the opener, believes Southern has enough clout to propel the team to more victories.
In the 3,200-meter run, Connor McBride and Ethan Yates will be the big guns, while Nate Skodi, Devin Connor and Billy Kubarewicz will be the go-to guys in the 1,600-meter run, and Nick Leek and Dom Bates will help Keyes in the 800. The sprinters will be led by Searles, Stout, Matt Barnett, John Dolphin, Ayden Malik, Collin McHugh and Colin Beecroft.
“We can win A South,” Keyes said. “We’re deep with our distance squad, and our sprinters should hold their own this season. We have good throwers and good jumpers. As a complete team, we don’t really have any weak points. I believe we’re going to have a really good season.”
70 and Counting for the Girls
So, yes, the Southern boys squad should be a solid contender for the division title this spring. But what about the girls squad, now guided by former assistant coach Jason Church after longtime head coach Brian Zatorski accepted an administrative position last summer?
At least part of that answer was delivered on April 5, when the Rams scored a 105-35 win over Brick Memorial and an 89-5-41.5 victory over Toms River East to extend their winning streak against A South opponents to 70 dual meets. Church posted to Twitter later in the day that the squad got off to a great start, and there’s no doubt about it.
However, this spring the Rams really need to rely on their depth because three of the team’s top athletes from last year – seniors Kristina Raylman and Justine Hosszu, along with junior Taylor Mulch – are injured and unable to compete this season. That means other Rams will have to pick up the slack to replace the points the trio would have scored.
That’s not to say Southern won’t still score lots of points, because it will. But in the bigger championship meets, it will be determined just how much Southern’s typical depth matters. Still, the Rams have plenty of leaders to burn the path, starting with senior Sabrina Woodlee, who had an outstanding indoor season, as well as Danielle Sinko, Rachel Ornstein, Liz O’Hara, Abby Johnson and Maura Flynn.
The junior class for Church’s troops has plenty of talent, too. Morgan Koeppen – now the premier pole vaulter on the squad since Raylman is out – stands to become a major factor in the Rams’ success this spring. Along with Koeppen, some of the other juniors who should help score points include Jenna Kulinski, Dorena Motta and Erin Rowland. A large group of sophomore and freshman athletes will be led by distance runners Gianna Citarella and Emily Furlong, sprinters Caitlin Hambor and Karagan Bulger, and thrower Devin Scully.
— David Biggy