By Wayne Witkowski
Distance runner Devon Hoernlein and jumper Kassidy Mulryne will lead Allentown High School girls’ indoor track and field team into the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III sectionals at 9 a.m. Feb. 12 at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River.
Hoernlein, a junior, will go into the meet with impressive credentials after winning two gold medals and being named the Outstanding Performer in the Mercer County Championships won by Allentown’s girls’ team for the first time Jan. 29 at Lavin Fieldhouse in Lawrenceville.
“I’m very proud of our team. We have a lot of dedication,” Hoernlein said.
Hoernlein overtook Robbinsville High School’s Lauren Kroepfl down the stretch to win the 1,600 meters by seven seconds in 5:13.58 and won the 3,200 meters in 11:26.60. Julia Mac of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South was four seconds behind Hoernlein in second place in the 3,200.
Allentown finished with 60 points, followed by West Windsor-Plainsboro South and Lawrence High Schools with 51 and 50 points, respectively.
“Devon ran both races smart and has worked at this for a long time,” Allentown girls’ coach Rick Smith said. “In the last two laps of the 3,200, she was phenomenal. She was strong and is our strongest in the weight room.”
“I was behind in six of the eight laps and then with 450 [meters] left, I started my kick and let it go,” Hoernlein said. “[Mac] tried to keep up with me and couldn’t.”
Hoernlein is looking to make strides in the sectionals this year after finishing seventh in the 1,600 a year ago in 5:21.34. Last spring, Hoernlein advanced to the outdoor Meet of Champions in the 3,200, where she finished 24th in 11:21.91.
Smith admitted he was surprised to see his own team come on that strong as well.
“I don’t think anyone saw this coming,” Smith said. “I knew we’d have a chance [to finish in] the top three. West Windsor-Plainsboro South has been a stud for a long time. I thought the county was a long shot. Now the sectionals become more important.”
“We looked really strong. Everyone was working hard and pushing each other,” Hoernlein said. “It was a preview of what we could do.”
Mulryne accounted for 22 points despite enduring back muscle problems, as she won the high jump at 5-2, was second in the long jump at 15-4¼ in her first long jumps of the season and was fourth in the 55 meter hurdles in 9.08.
Smith said he felt Mulryne also was outstanding for his team.
“I think this meet boosted everyone’s confidence,” Mulryne said and added that she let up in the high jump on getting a higher measure once she clinched the gold because of her back soreness. “With some cancellations of meets because of the weather, we did not get a chance to compete this season in many meets, so we went in with no expectations. Everyone came out to compete. Devon knew what she had to do.”
Sara Gutter won the 800 meters in a personal best of 2:22.11. Carly Roche tied a personal best in the pole vault when she cleared 10-0, which was just a half-foot behind the winning measure.
“I’m real impressed with Sara Gutter. She started out like a bat out of hell,” Smith said.
Although she did not get a medal, Jesse Bragger ran personal bests in the 3,200 (12:35.56) for 12th place and in the 1,600 (4:45.54) for 15th place, and Smith said he’ll also look to her as a threat to advance into the Group III championships the following weekend.
Thrower Lauren Drexler was scratched for the Mercer County meet, but Smith said he expects her back in the shot put for the sectionals.
“We need her to score points,” Smith said.
Last year, Mulryne was fourth in the high jump at the sectionals at 5-0, as Allentown finished ninth in the team standings. Mulryne finished sixth in the Group III championships at 5-2 and 10th in the indoor Meet of Champions at 5-4. She said she is looking to match that last mark in the high jump or to surpass it in the sectionals. She has reached 16-8 in the long jump. Mulryne also runs with Gutter, Roche and Kaitlyn Bergen in the 4×400 relay that set a school record this season of 4:17. That team was eighth at Mercer County in 4:28.38.
Roche was third in the sectionals last year when she cleared 8-0. Gutter was eighth in the 3,200 last year in 12:22.93.
As for Allentown’s boys’ team in the Mercer County Championships, Daniel Hulit cleared 12-0 in the pole vault for second place — a half-foot behind the winning height.
Sarina Campanella scored 21 points and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player when Allentown (14-3) defeated Paul VI High School, 56-47, Feb. 4 in the Warrior Winter Classic in Burlington. Campanella sank four 3-pointers. Allentown led, 32-26, at halftime, and Campanella’s five free throws fueled its 13-10 burst in the final frame to lead Allentown. Ryan Weise contributed 17 points, 11 assists and eight steals.
Allentown moved into a commanding position for the Colonial Valley Conference Valley Division title Feb. 3 when Campanella fired in 15 points for a 51-47 victory over West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. Allentown is 4-0 in the division and was able to wrap up a repeat title with a victory Feb. 6 over Nottingham High School, which has one division loss. The Redbirds play Hamilton High School West, which has two losses, Feb. 8. Allentown beat both teams convincingly in earlier season games.
Campanella — the lone senior on the team who was honored on Senior Night during the West Windsor-Plainsboro North game — scored seven points in a 19-11 surge in the second quarter that staked Allentown to a 33-26 lead it never lost and virtually sealed the victory with two free throws with 26 seconds left for a five-point lead. Kali Hartshorn chipped in 12 points and Weise, who averages a team-best 18 points, was held to seven points but had a dozen assists.
Allentown beat West Windsor-Plainsboro North, 53-49, in overtime earlier in the season behind Weise’s 27 points.
“I’ve been playing a little more relaxed and when I do, I play better,” Campanella said. “I see the floor better now and always give the extra pass if a player is more open than I am. That’s what we need — teamwork — and not getting mad at someone if they do something bad. We have to play as a team and make that extra pass sometimes.”
Weise leads the team with 73 assists and 72 steals coming into this week and has 37 3-point baskets, which is six fewer than Campanella, who averages 13 points. Campanella has 51 assists and 43 steals. Lauren Coiante averages 7.4 points including 23 of Allentown’s 114 3-point baskets, and has 43 assists and 26 steals. Hartshorn and Katie White lead in rebounding with averages of 5.8 and 5.2, respectively. Hartshorn also has 39 assists and 30 steals.
Allentown also has a game Feb. 13 at Notre Dame.
Nahshon Taylor scored 13 points and Robert Hynes put in 11, including three 3-point baskets, as Allentown (6-10) won its first Colonial Valley Conference Valley Division game of the season, 41-31, over West Windsor-Plainsboro North on the cutoff weekend for the state tournament. Allentown will qualify for that tournament based on power points.
“We played well on defense. We were tough on defense, allowing two points in the fist quarter, and were unselfish moving the ball,” coach Jay Graber said.
Taylor averages 19 points with 29 3-point baskets, and Anthony Alexander follows with a 8.2 points per game for the Redbirds, who played Nottingham Feb. 6 and Hamilton West at home on Feb. 7. They host Notre Dame High School 7 p.m. Feb. 13.
“[Taylor] has been scoring well and making better decisions on offense on his shots and playing better on defense,” Graber said.
Allentown concludes the regular season at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Hopewell Valley Central High School before heading into the Mercer County Tournament that week and then the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III tournament.
Shawn Camisa went on a scoring tear of late for the Robbinsville-Allentown Ravens (12-6-1), who open in the Mercer County Tournament as the No. 4 seed behind Princeton High School, Lawrence and Notre Dame. The Ravens play No. 5 seed West Windsor-Plainsboro South at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at Mercer County Park. The next round is 6 p.m. on Feb. 14
Camisa, who has 30 goals and 26 assists, fired in five goals when the Ravens surged late in the second period to a 9-6 victory over South Brunswick High School Feb. 3 at ProSkate City in Princeton.
Allentown had come off a 6-2 victory over Hopewell Valley Jan. 30 at Mercer County Park. Camisa recorded the hat trick and three assists, and Josh Rosenbaum knocked in two goals to give him a team-best 31 goals this season.
Allentown (10-8), holding the eighth and final seed in NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV, opened in the sectional tournament Feb. 6 at top-seeded Jackson Memorial High School (11-8), which had a five-match win streak snapped in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals by Raritan High School. The winner takes on the survivor of No. 4-seed Long Branch High School at No. 3 Northern Burlington County Regional High School Feb. 8.
Allentown comes off its third straight dual-meet victory, 42-34, over Robbinsville Feb. 1. Freshman Nicholas Golden’s pin at 1:00 was the lone contested victory for the Redbirds, who got six forfeit victories. Robbinsville scored two pins, a technical fall and two major decisions.