The achievement caps off one of the Cougars’ most successful seasons in recent years.
By JOHN HAPP
Special to the Sun
The Cherry Hill High School East girls track and field team have completed one of their best seasons in years based upon their many accomplishments in the Olympic Conference and Camden County Championships, the South Jersey Group IV sectional and the five new school records that were set and then broken numerous times throughout the season. The team features a very strong junior class with five juniors advancing to the Meet Of Champions.
The Cherry Hill East Girls team is led by Head Coach Yanell Holiday, who handles the sprinters and just completed her first season coaching girls track, assistant coach Chris Mason, who handles the distance runners, assistant coach Nick Wright who handles the throwers and assistant coach Bob Hulme, who handles the jumpers.
Cherry Hill East competes in the very competitive American Division of the Olympic Conference. They finished with a dual meet record of 2–2, the same as the previous two years. However, their two losses were to Lenape, which won the South Jersey Group IV sectional, and Eastern, which finished fourth in the sectional.
At the Olympic Conference Championship at Washington Township High School, Cherry Hill East was led by conference javelin champion junior Analisa Groble with a throw of 111-feet, four-inches. Also earning All-Conference First Team honors were: sophomore Maya Drayton (100m), freshman Nylah Perry (400m), junior Alana Cohen (pole vault) and the 4x800m relay featuring sophomore Bay Wilson, senior Alexa Happ, freshman Lily Stanwick and sophomore Dani Lazarus. Earning second team honors were the 4x100m relay featuring Drayton, Perry and juniors Danielle Allen and Giovanna Roberson.
At the Camden County Championship held at Haddon Township High School, Cherry Hill East finished fourth in the Large School Division, which was won by Timber Creek. Cohen is the county champion in the pole vault. Drayton finished second in the 100m with a time of 12.51 seconds. In the 200m dash, Perry finished fourth (26.06) with Drayton 0.02 seconds behind her in fifth place. In the 3200m race, sophomore Sarah Pierce finished fourth (12:16.80) and senior Taegan Field sixth (12:21.71). Junior Star Beasley cleared four-feet, 10-inches in the high jump and finished sixth. In the javelin, Groble finished second (108-feet, seven-inches).
The South Jersey Group IV sectionals were held at Egg Harbor Township High School where the Cherry Hill East Girls Track and Field team finished in sixth place out of more than twenty schools and had five girls and two relay teams qualify for the state finals. To advance to the state finals a competitor must finish in the top six of her event.
Qualifying for individual events were Drayton (100m and 200m), Perry (200m and 400m), Beasley (high jump), Cohen (pole vault) and Groble (javelin). In addition, the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams advanced with both improving on school records that were broken earlier in the season. In the 4x100m, their time of 48.9 seconds was not only a new school record but also the 17th fastest by any New Jersey high school this year. The 4x400m relay (Drayton, Perry, Allen and Beasley) posted a blazing time of 3:54.64, which was also the sixth fastest in the state this year.
Other school records that fell this year include the pole vault when Cohen broke Tori Rossi’s 2006 record by one foot when she cleared ten feet at several meets. Perry lowered the 400m school record by over one second to 56.48 and broke Carrie Vuong’s 2009 record. And a third sprint relay record was set, this time for the 4x200m (Drayton, Perry, Allen and Roberson) was set at the Rowan University Girls Invitational in early May. In addition, the relay times were good enough for the girls to qualify for nationals in North Carolina.
Also competing at Egg Harbor in the Non-Public A sectional was Union Catholic senior Sydney McLaughlin, who last summer after her junior year of high school represented the United States at the Rio Summer Olympics in the 400m hurdles. McLaughlin won three individual sectional titles. In her Olympic event, the 400m Hurdles, she won by almost ten seconds.
It was a very good year for the Cherry Hill East girls track team. And with a very strong junior class returning, next year should see more records fall.