By Jeff Appelblatt
When Stephen Staklinski threw down a dunk in one of Freehold Township High School’s final basketball games, coach Brian Golub shrugged. He knew about the senior’s jumping ability.
He was certain the student-athlete would show off his elevation when the track and field campaign began in the spring.
In the most recent event for the Patriots — the Shore Conference Championships — Staklinski landed first in the high jump competition.
It seems the senior may be making some of his final leaps. When Staklinski begins at the University of Central Florida in the fall, he won’t be participating in any sports.
Golub, now his jumping coach at Freehold Township, loved the transition from basketball to track.
“I’ve been coaching track for 26 years,” the multi-sport coach said. “[I] love both sports. [Track was] something to look forward to after the tough loss.”
Staklinski was happy jumping right into a new sport after the basketball season, too. The Patriots had a great 25-win season on the court, but for the second year in a row, the team lost in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Central Jersey, Group IV finals on a last-second shot.
Andrew Colbert didn’t play basketball in the winter, but he also made Golub proud. The sophomore finished third in the high jump relay at the conference championships.
Some of Marlboro High School’s top athletes also made noise in the jumping competitions. Gianna Gomez won the girls’ triple jump and landed fourth in the long jump.
One of Freehold Township’s top rivals on the court this year, Marlboro’s runners also showed they were out to compete May 20 in Neptune at the conference meet. Charles Maree finished third in the 800-meter run, and Danielle Spano finished fourth in the 100.
Overall as a team, Freehold Township’s boys finished No. 13 of the 30 teams competing in Neptune, while Marlboro’s boys finished 23rd.
Marlboro’s girls outdid the ones from Freehold Township. While the Mustangs ended up 11th in the competition, the Patriots finished 26th.
Manalapan High School’s girls slid right behind Marlboro when Anna Czajkowski won the girls’ long jump competition.