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Area teams have strong performances at county relays

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By Jeff Appelblatt

Marlboro High School’s outdoor track and field team was excited by what its student-athletes did at the Monmouth County Relay Championships May 4 in Long Branch.

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The girls’ 4×100-meter relay team of Lauren Newman, Briana Mullan, Alexa Friedman and Danielle Spano won. Gianna Gomez won the long jump and triple jump relays. Antoinette Gyles came second in the shot put competition. Brianna Diaz finished No. 6 in the discus throw relay. And overall, the girls finished fourth out of the 22 competing schools.

The boys from Marlboro finished No. 6 at the Monmouth County Relays. The 4×400 relay team of Charles Maree, Eric Shaker, Luke Rapley and Edward McBurnie won, while the 1,600 sprint medley team of Kwaku Amponsah, McBurnie, Julien Hill and Maree came in second.

Stephen Staklinski from Freehold Township High School won the high jump, while Andrew Colbert tied for third in the same contest. David Jolly and Christopher Nami each got Freehold Township a point with top-10 finishes in the triple jump.

Matt Degnan got Freehold High School some points when he finished third in the javelin throw relay, while Austin Gere placed fifth in the shot put relay.

Manalapan High School’s Mike Bassista finished third in the discus throw.

Manalapan’s girls finished second in the 4×1,600 relay, led by Danielle Becker, Madison Povell, Hayley Flanagan and Kiera Nealon. Anna Czajkowski also finished second in the triple jump.

Sophia Yun from Freehold Township tied for first in the high jump. Kassandra Martin finished third in the javelin throw, and Joyce Huang finished third in the long jump.

Colts Neck High School, meanwhile, just had Amy McGee finish second in the discus throw relay and sixth in both the shot put relay and the javelin throw. Jenna Filingeri also finished eighth in the discus throw, while Lauren Feaster finished eighth in the javelin throw.

Pat Whalen represented Colts Neck’s boys with a second-place finish in the discus throw, but the Cougars — the indoor track champions in the winter — were kept quiet in Long Branch. That was exactly what Colts Neck coach Jim Schlentz planned.

“We’ve got to pick and choose. We started [competing in the winter] two weeks late to get more training in. We’re just now starting to get race fit,” the coach said. “It’s nice to win the Freehold [Regional High School] District, but we have other championships as our focal points.”

With the team Schlentz has looked at this year, he has no doubt his athletes will all be included in the runners to beat once the main competitions approach — the biggest left for the team’s seniors being the Monmouth County Championships May 10 and 12 at 4 p.m. at Holmdel High School.

Some Colts Neck standouts have already been given college scholarships for next year: Jordan Brannan to Iona College, Anthony Russo to the University of Pennsylvania and Kevin Berry to Princeton University.

“I think they’ve had an unbelievable year. Everything else now is just icing on the cake,” the coach said. “They can be more relaxed. Anything else is just more to remember from great high school careers.”

One of Schlentz’s fondest memories of the spring will be from the district championship races April 19 in Manalapan. Like something out of a storybook, Cougars locked up the top four spots in the 3,200-meter run. Brannan won, Russo came in second, Matthew Schaefer came in third and Berry rounded out the group in fourth.

“I had never had that before,” the longtime coach said with full knowledge he never watched four of his runners finish a big race in the top four spots. “I have four monsters this year.”

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