Stafford Leader

Southern Regional Track and Field Squads Boast Depth, Talent Again

Spring Sports Preview
Apr 13, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Senior Joe Miele heads into his final season with the Southern boys track and field team as its premier thrower in the shot put and discus.

Each spring, the Southern Regional boys and girls track and field teams routinely deliver athletes past the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV meet. If all goes well during the next six weeks, that should be the case again this spring.

There’s no doubt both squads are deep, as has been the norm for the past decade. And while the competition in Shore Conference Class A South is tough – Toms River South’s girls ended Southern’s 10-year reign at the top of the division last season – the Rams certainly will be contenders for their respective division titles and beyond that will have plenty of athletes competing for top spots among Ocean County, the Shore Conference and Group IV.

For the boys this spring, the big names are Joe Miele, Paul Keyes, David Springstead and Joe Guglielmo. All four are versatile and likely will compete in multiple events, and each has a shot to make it to the Meet of Champions in one event or another.

Miele, a senior, is one of the boys team’s top throwers and should be among the best in the discus as well as the shot put. Last year, a rough go in the sectional discus event cut his run short – he was a Meet of Champions finalist in 2016 – but he managed to reach the Group IV meet in the shot put, finishing ninth. This past winter, he placed 23rd in the Meet of Champions shot put, after winning the South Jersey meet with a throw of 51 feet, 1 inch.

Springstead, a junior, may be the most versatile athlete on the team. Not only is he a fantastic pole vaulter – he cleared 13 feet to win the indoor sectional championship – but he also competes in the high jump, triple jump and hurdles events. Last spring, he placed 10th in the Group IV high jump and 15th in the group triple jump.

Coming off another productive ice hockey season, Keyes, a senior, is the premier middle-distance runner for the Rams. Last year, he placed 16th in the Meet of Champions 1,600-meter run after taking fourth in Group IV. He also placed 13th in the Group IV 800-meter run.

As for Guglielmo, also a junior, he broke onto the scene in a big way last spring, competing in all the throwing events and reaching the Meet of Champions in the javelin, finishing 16th in the state with a throw of just over 170 feet. He was the runner-up in Group IV with a throw of 174 feet, 9 inches, and placed 13th in the Group IV shot put.

The Rams also have several other jumps guys who may rise higher this spring, including seniors Mason Schnell, who finished 10th in last year’s Group IV pole vault, and Steve Santiago, who placed seventh in the sectional pole vault. Junior Liam Anderson, who was ninth in the sectional shot put event last spring, will help the throws crew as well.

As always, the Southern girls are going to have plenty of talented athletes competing through early June. The two who are highest on the list – Morgan Koeppen and Taylor Mulch – finally have reached their senior seasons and, if they remain healthy, will be leading the way. Both barely competed during the indoor season while nursing injuries.

Still, Koeppen is extremely versatile, and likely will be best in the pole vault and triple jump. Last spring, she finished second in the Group IV triple jump with a distance of more than 35 feet and was fourth in the pole vault. Mulch is the Rams’ top middle-distance runner and adds a lot to the 4x800-meter relay, which placed third in the Meet of Champions last June.

Typically, Southern has a lot of depth in the middle-distance events, and that will be true again this spring. And it’s expected that sophomore Karagan Bulger will be right near the top in several events, particularly the 1,600-meter run, in which she reached the Meet of Champions during the indoor season after placing third and ninth, respectively, in the sectional and group meets. Last spring, she was seventh in the Group IV 800-meter run, as well as seventh in the Group IV 400-meter hurdles.

One of the juniors expected to have a stellar spring is Caitlin Hambor, who sprints, hurdles and jumps. At last year’s Group IV meet, Hambor was 14th in the 400-meter dash, fourth in the group long jump and was an integral part of both the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays.

As for the throws crew, senior Jenna Kulinski is the one to watch. Kulinski had a fantastic season a year ago, reaching the Meet of Champions in the javelin and placing 12th with a throw of more than 122 feet. During the indoor season, she finished 10th in the South Jersey Group IV shot put.

Beyond that, the Rams will look to junior Gianna Citarella, who was 12th in the Group IV 3,200-meter run last spring, and sophomores Emily Furlong, Jaelyn D’Amelio and Alexa Mulch to solidify the distance crew, and junior Devin Scully to have a productive season in the throwing events. Freshmen Maria Mezzo, a versatile athlete who competed in multiple sprint, hurdles and jumps events this past winter, and Brookelle Kline, a sprinter and hurdler, should add some pop to the lineup.

David Biggy

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