The girls track and field teams at both schools came together for a dual meet at Cherry Hill High School West.
By JOHN HAPP
Special to the Sun
The first ever Cherry Hill girls track challenge was held at the track at Cherry Hill High School West. The event was dubbed “WE” (West and East) are Cherry Hill track meet. The schools competed on the track and field but genuinely cheered for one another. This inaugural event was won by Cherry Hill East, but more importantly, it started a tradition that all hope will continue for years to come.
Both schools compete in the highly competitive Olympic Conference, however they are in different divisions and thus do not traditionally meet on the track. In addition, Cherry Hill West competes in Group III, while Cherry Hill East is in Group IV.
The idea for the challenge came from the two head coaches. Cherry Hill West is led by second-year head coach Brittany Gibbs. Gibbs is trying to grow the program that currently has about 40 girls. Cherry Hill East is led by first year head coach Yanell Holiday. East has a more established program with about 75 girls on the team. Both coaches competed as sprinters in college, Gibbs at Monmouth University and Holiday at Hampton University. It is the first time in decades that both schools have had female head coaches.
The event started with Senior Recognition Day. West’s seniors include Natalie Eberhardt, a jumper (long, high and triple), Maddy Meloche, a sprinter, and Alonja Williams, one of West’s top sprinters. East’s seniors included Jade Clark, a sprinter; Megan Cusik, who is running the mile this year after throwing the javelin last year; Danielle Deterville, a second-year thrower; Greer Field, a three-year varsity distance runner; Taegan Field, a four-year varsity distance runner and two-time all-conference runner; Olivia Gross, a four-year sprinter and co-captains; Alexa Happ, a third-year distance runner and co-captain; Chelsey James, another third-year varsity sprinter and jumper; Kylah Kelly, a first year senior manager; Tia Michel, a first year sprinter; Autumn Robinson, who throws the shot put and runs distance; and Dani Shoshany, a 1600m runner.
West is led by its members of the 4×800 relay team, which broke the school record back in April and has continued to take time off their record. The team of Cameron Wright (ninth grade), Elizabeth Santana (10th), Emily Santana (11th) and Mirasha Williamson (10th) placed fifth at the Olympic Conference Championship and lowered their school record time to 10:18. Wright and Elizabeth Santana placed second and third in the 800m at the Cherry Hill Girls Track Challenge.
Cherry Hill West junior Trinity Huff won both the 400m intermediate hurdles and 100m high hurdle events and established a new personal record in both. Also in the 400m IH, Cherry Hill West freshman Madeline Harrison finished second and improved her PR by five seconds. This is the first year for both girls competing in the 400m IH.
For Cherry Hill West in the field events Junior Melani Stokes finished first in the shot put. Freshman Madiana Mansuray finished first in discus and third both javelin and shot put. This is the first year both girls are throwing for Cherry Hill West. Sophomore Neylan Neal, a track rookie, placed first in triple jump and third in long jump.
Cherry Hill East is led by a very strong and deep group of sprinters. Sophomore Maya Drayton won the 100m dash, and freshman Nylah Perry won the other two sprint races (200m and 400m), while sophomore Bay Wilson won the 800m middle distance race.
Cherry Hill East swept the two distance events. In the 1600m, junior Isabella Zebrowski finished first, with sophomore Sarah Pierce second and junior Jill Westman third. In the 3200m, there was a touching finish with sisters Taegan and Greer Field finishing hand-in-hand in first and Happ finishing third.
For Cherry Hill East in the field events, junior Analisa Groble took first place in javelin. In the long jump, first year competitor Sharon Um finished first. And in shot put, Eve Rosado took first place.
In the final event of the meet — the 4x400m relay East ran the mile event in a blazing 4:08. Running for Cherry Hill East was junior Danielle Allen, Drayton, junior Star Beasley and Perry.
The first-ever “WE” challenge was a success. Next year both schools hope to build upon this year’s success and add girls middle school relays and maybe an alumni event or two. This is how traditions get started.