By Wayne Witkowski
Three members of Allentown High School’s girls’ indoor track and field team — Devon Hoernlein, Kassidy Mulryne and Carly Roche — qualified for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions (MOC) coming off the NJSIAA Group III championships Feb. 17 at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River.
Also last weekend, seven Allentown wrestlers moved closer to a berth in the state championships in Atlantic City by advancing out of District 22 into the Region 6 tournament this week at Brick Memorial High School. Freshman Joe Lamparelli led the way with a championship at 106 pounds, and Liam McDermott was runner-up at 170.
Indoor track and field
In girls’ track and field, where the top six finishers in the group meets are guaranteed a spot in the MOC Feb. 26, Hoernlein finished fifth in the 1,600 meters in 5:10.91 in Group III. She also is expected to qualify as a wild card in the 3,200, where she ran a time of 11:15.92 for seventh place.
Mulryne returns to the MOC in the high jump after clearing 5-0 for fourth place despite a lingering back injury. She was 10th at last year’s MOC, clearing 5-4.
Roche finished fourth in the pole vault at the group meet, clearing 10-0.
“Devon would’ve placed [in the top six] in any other group in the 3,200 but in our group, it’s so tough in that race,” girls’ coach Rick Smith said. “I’m really proud of her. She’s a strong kid who works hard and this time of year, that’s when it starts to pay off. The same for Kassidy, who has fought through her injury. With Carly, we’ve come to expect her clearing 10 feet.”
Hoernlein’s times are personal bests for the indoor season, surpassing the previous best times of 5:13.58 in the 1,600 and 11:26.0 in the 3,200 she ran at the Mercer County meet, which were both first-place finishes when Allentown won its first girls’ team title.
Hoernlein was injured prior to the MOC last year and said that if she qualifies for both events, she is not sure which she will choose to run.
“I’m really happy with my 1,600. I knew I had to go out hard at the front of the pack and that it would be a fast race where I’d have to give my all for the last two laps,” Hoernlein said. “I finished with my big kick, just like in the county meet. It’s the same in the 3,200, that I knew it’d be a fast race and that if I started falling back, it would be a lot to make up, so I had to give it my all.”
Hoernlein, who qualified for the outdoor MOC, where she finished 24th in the 3,200 last year as a sophomore in 11:21.71, said she is happy with her progress indoors in recent weeks.
“Right now, I’m very happy with how I’ve performed this season,” she said. “I’m not at my best yet, and I don’t want to peak in the winter with spring season coming up. But I’m in the best shape of my life and looking forward to what I can do outdoors.”
Many on the team will be competing in the Eastern States Championships at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York, New York, Feb. 28.
Lamparelli, who is 33-1 on the season, said he wrestled just like he did when the won the Mercer County meet and was victorious with a 10-1 decision over Travis Kotelnicki of Northern Burlington County Regional High School in the finals, earning a bye into the region quarterfinals Feb. 24. McDermott, who is 25-2, and five other wrestlers were scheduled to compete on opening night Feb. 22.
“I thought we did really well and showed improvement from the beginning and that we could do well in the regions,” coach Mitch Nock said. “In fact, I think more guys would’ve qualified, but the ones who did earned it.”
The other region qualifiers with third-place finishes included freshman Matt Paglia, who is 19-8 at 126 pounds; sophomores Drew Romein (21-11 at 138), Nick Campbell (15-7 at 182) and heavyweight Harrison Hill (15-8); and junior Nolan Pecci (19-14 at 160).
Allentown as a team finished third in the district — an improvement over last year’s fourth-place finish in District 25 before it was moved to District 22 this year.
“We had seven guys advance and none are seniors, including all 10 of our guys who made the district semifinals,” Nock said. “We won only two semifinal bouts out of 10, but were 5-3 in the consolations, which was a big turnaround. We expect to be tough next year in our league and look to make a run in the state sectionals.”
Romein and Campbell upheld their No. 3 seeds. Romein won an 11-6 decision over a district place-winner last year from Neptune High School in his consolation match. Campbell and Pecci, who had been coming on strongly through the season, scored early pins in their consolation matches. Hill rose from his No. 4 seed and won his consolation match by working off his back in the first period to pin his opponent at 2:40.
Despite an 8-12 record, Anthony Heinz just missed advancing with a fourth-place finish at 132. Seeded No. 6, he upset the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals.
Allentown (18-4) advanced into the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament against Trenton Central High School Feb. 20 after rolling by Princeton High School, 68-28, Feb. 17. Ryan Weise dropped in six of Allentown’s 11 3-point baskets and led the way with 27 points, and Sarina Campanella chipped in 17 points, including a trio of 3-pointers.
On Feb. 13, Allentown knocked off state-ranked Notre Dame High School, 52-36, as Weise scored 18 points, Lauren Coiante fired in 13 and Marin Hartshorn tallied 10. The Redbirds race out to a 29-10 lead at halftime. They lost, 60-49, to Hopewell Valley Central High School Feb. 15 leading up to the county tournament, as Campanella led the Redbirds with 15 points, including four 3-pointers, and Weise dropped in a dozen points. Hopewell Valley went on a 17-8 surge in the fourth quarter.
Nahshon Taylor scored 18 points, boosted by four 3-point baskets, and Anthony Alexander finished with 17 points in an Allentown loss to Ewing High School, 74-48, in its Mercer County Tournament opener Feb. 17. Robert Hynes scored 10 points for Allentown, which trailed, 34-10, at halftime.