Pinelands Regional’s Carly Jannsch Makes Most of First Attempt at Group Track and Field Championships

Jun 07, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy Pinelands junior Carly Jannsch fires the javelin during the NJSIAA Group III Championships on June 3. Jannsch placed second and advanced to the Meet of Champions.

For the past two years, Carly Jannsch had thought about joining the girls track and field team at Pinelands Regional High School, except a slight problem arose prior to each season.

“I didn’t get the paperwork in by the deadline – both times,” the junior said with a laugh. “This year, I wanted to hang out more with my best friend, Susie Grelak, so I made sure I had the paperwork done early.”

Good thing she did. Jannsch scored a lot of points for the Wildcats, particularly in the javelin event, in her first track and field season. But on June 3, she was competing for herself and did the unthinkable, reaching the NJSIAA Meet of Champions by placing second with a throw of 125 feet, 8 inches in the Group III Championships.

Jannsch had never touched a javelin prior to this spring.

“For half the spring, we worked on getting her footwork right,” said coach Matt Fuller. “She didn’t use a full approach until May 1. But she listens well and is very coachable. She’s also patient. She understands that she doesn’t have to throw 120 feet with every throw. And she doesn’t let pressure get to her. What she’s done is incredible.”

A volleyball player for the past three fall seasons, not only is Jannsch naturally powerful in her upper body, but also the hitting motion for volleyball is very similar to the one used in throwing the javelin, with only a minor tweak  to hurl the spear in an upward arc as opposed to hitting a volleyball downward.

“I used a five-step approach the first time I picked up the javelin and threw it over 100 feet,” she said. “Fuller jumped for joy. I’ve always been strong in my upper body, so it wasn’t hard to pick it up. I just had to get the footwork down. Now, I look at the video of my first throw and it was atrocious. I’m so much better than I was two months ago.”

After she qualified for the group meet with a season-best 126 feet, 9 inches in the South Jersey Group III meet two weeks ago, her first throw on Saturday dropped a foot short of her best but was good enough to thrust her near the top of the leaderboard. Jannsch’s second throw was shorter than her first, and her third throw sailed out of bounds, leaving her with the 125-8 and in second place behind Hammonton’s Alexa Gardner, who cleared 142 feet for the title.

Still, Jannsch was very happy to be moving on to the big stage at Northern Burlington High School on June 10, to square off against the state’s best throwers.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d be here two months ago, and to be going to the Meet of Champions is pretty awesome.”

Also headed to the Meet of Champions for the first time will be Barnegat junior Nico Adorno, who earned a spot in one of the most difficult events to qualify for – the 100-meter dash – along with his 4x100-meter relay teammates, senior Jake Schmitz, sophomore Dewight Smith-Fernandez and freshman Justin Gomez.

“My goal was to qualify in at least one event, whether it was individually or in the relay,” said Adorno, who missed qualifying for the Meet of Champions in his two other individual events, the 200- and 400-meter dashes. “To qualify in two events is amazing. It’s crazy. But we’ve been working hard all season for this, and the work paid off.”

After placing fifth in the 100 with a time of 11.11 seconds on Friday, Adorno went back to Northern Burlington on Saturday for the 200 and to anchor the relay. Schmitz led off the relay, blazing around the initial two turns in lane 2 before handing off to Smith-Fernandez.

“I wasn’t paying attention to anything around me,” Schmitz said. “I just wanted to make sure my breathing was right, that I exploded off the blocks and got a clean start, and that my handoff was exactly like we’ve practiced. I felt great.”

Smith-Fernandez zipped through the backstretch and handed off to Gomez, who raced around the last two turns before giving up the baton to Adorno, who led the field from handoff to finish, crossing the line in 43.10 seconds. Unfortunately, the Bengals just missed taking the first spot in Group II, as Willingboro ran to a time of 43.05 in the previous heat.

“Our guys executed very well,” said coach Joe Doviak, who said his crew worked on their exchanges in practice two days before the group meet. “We made a few minor adjustments and as long as each guy focused on and executed his part, everything would turn out great. These guys did everything right.”

Adorno said Gomez’s handoff was perfectly executed, and even though his start “could have been a little better,” he was firing on all cylinders during the final 150 meters.

“You can’t worry about anybody and just run full speed,” he said. “Now we’ll go to the Meet of Champions and see where we stack up against everybody else in the state. It’s humbling to be going as one of the top teams in the group.”

Meanwhile, in Egg Harbor for the Group IV Championships, several Southern Regional relays and individuals advanced to the Meet of Champions as well, with the Southern girls 4x800-meter relay of Taylor Mulch, Rachel Ornstein, Sabrina Woodlee and Karagan Bulger coming through with the big performance of the weekend – a second-place time of 9:19.21.

The Rams’ 4x400 relay of Woodlee, Caitlin Hambor, Morgan Koeppen and Bulger combined for an 11th-place time of 4:004.04, but they, too, appeared to qualify for the Meet of Champions by being one of the top six at-large teams. For the Meet of Champions, the top six in each event from each group automatically qualify, and the six best finishers from all the state’s remaining competitors also qualify as at-large bids.

Southern thrower Jenna Kulinski didn’t have to worry about an at-large nod. She fired the javelin 121 feet, 3 inches to place fourth in Group IV, while Joe Guglielmo placed fifth with a javelin throw of 163 feet, 2 inches.

In addition to the other automatic qualifiers, it appeared, based on the results from the other five groups, that Southern distance runner Paul Keyes, who placed eighth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:22.50, and Woodlee, who placed 10th in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:15.90, also grabbed at-large spots.

The 4x100 relay of Jaytlyn Pantaleano, Koeppen, Abby Johnson and Hambor ran to an 11th-place time of 49.80 seconds, but it was unclear whether they earned an at-large bid to the Meet of Champions because five other teams’ times were better and the Rams’ crew had the same time as Roxbury, which placed ninth in Group III.

Other results from the group championships: Barnegat’s Gunnar Pearson placed 12th in the Group II 800 (1:58.83), while Ginalee Erskine was 11th in the Group II javelin (106-9) and 12th in the discus (107 feet), Sara Wells was 14th in the Group II discus (105-11) and Kylie Picaro was 14th in the high jump (4 feet, 8 inches). In Group III, Pinelands freshman Liz Makar placed 15th in the Group III shot put at 34 feet, 7 inches. In Group IV, Koeppen was 15th in the triple jump at 34 feet, 5¼ inches.

— David Biggy

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