SJSW Weekly Notebook: Track athletes star at states

South Jersey Sports Weekly is a publication that launched in April that’s produced by Sun Newspapers that appears in physical copy within the Suns throughout South Jersey (in Moorestown, Medford, Cherry Hill, Washington Township, Deptford, etc). each Wednesday. Most of the content also appears online. The weekly, online notebook will provide you with even more of the content within SJSW’s physical pages.

There were plenty of stars on the track this month in South Jersey. In the SJSW coverage area alone, more than 20 athletes can call themselves state champions this year after taking home first place medals in the Group State finals on May 31 and June 1.

Paul VI junior Aliya Rae Garozzo was one of the biggest winners at the state group championships. Garozzo ran to two first-place finishes in Non-Public A, taking the 400-meter hurdle title and the 100-meter hurdle title.
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In individual events, difference athletes were crowned state champions this year. Two athletes, Aliya Rae Garozzo of Paul VI and Tierra Hooker of Timber Creek, won state titles in multiple events. Garozzo won both the 100 and 400 hurdles in Non-Public A, while Hooker was the high jump and long jump state champion in Group 3. Three other athletes were champions in hurdle events. Sam Aviles of Palmyra won the 110 hurdles in Group 1, Naseem Smith of Deptford took the 110 hurdles in Group 3 and Meredith Updike of Cinnaminson was the 400 hurdles champion in Group 2.

Two athletes joined Hooker as champions in field events at states. James Lynch of Deptford took first place in the Group 3 boys pole vault. In the Group 4 shot put, Lucciano Pizarro of Cherokee came out on top. Pizarro went on to be the only SJSW-coverage area athlete to take a Meet of Champions title when he won the shot put on June 8.

Long distance runners starred in a few events at the Group finals. Cinnaminson’s Austin Gabay won the 1,600-meter run in Group 2, while Connor Melko took the 3,200-meter run in Non-Public A. In slightly shorter races, Shelby Whetstone of Lenape was the Group 4 800-meter champion and Zach Murray of Haddonfield won the Group 2 400-meter race.

Derek Gess, Andrew Gostovich, Greg Eisenhower and Ethan Spellmeyer (front) took him first place in the Group 2 boys 4×800-meter relay with a time of 7:55.65 to beat out second place Cinnaminson by a little more than four seconds.
Lindsay Colflesh, Olivia Stoner, Payton Weiner and Allison Colflesh clocked in at 9:20.71 to take first place in the Group 2 girls 4×800-meter relay. The Bulldawgs won the event by more than 13 seconds over second place Rumson-Fair Haven.

Speaking of Haddonfield, the Bulldawgs had two relay teams come out on top in Group 2. On the boys side, Derek Gess, Andrew Gostovich, Greg Eisenhower and Ethan Spellmeyer won the Group 2 4×800-meter relay. For the girls, it was Lindsay Colflesh, Olivia Stoner, Payton Weiner and Allison Colflesh who won the Group 2 4×400-meter relay.

The members of the first outdoor track state championship team in Deptford Township High School history included (first row, left to right) Julian Rodriguez, Amadu Jalloh, Donnie Scott, Donovan Clement and (back row, left to right) Steven Rios, Richeid Fawkes, Phil Sedalis, Marcel Washington, Khi’on Smith, Jake Lynch, and Tyrece Brown. Not pictured: back-to-back 110-meter hurdles champion Naseem Smith.

Deptford boys track also had a relay champion as Tyrece Brown, Amadu Jalloh, Steven Rios and Kh’ion Smith won the Group 3 4×400-meter relay. The relay team helped Deptford win the Group 3 boys team title, giving the program its first-ever outdoor track team state championship.

Winslow Township’s Rayven Rouse, Nicole Good, Janeya Hammond and Nylah Perry ran a 3:50.56 – nearly five seconds faster than the runner-up – to take the Group 3 state title in the 4×400 meter relay.

Another state championship team was on the opposite end of the spectrum. Winslow girls track won its seventh straight Group 3 team title, the longest streak among girls public school programs in state history. Leading the way for the Eagles was the 4×400-meter relay team of Rayven Rouse, Nicole Good, Janeya Hammond and Nylah Perry, who breezed to a first place finish in their event.


June 8 marked the official conclusion of the New Jersey high school sports season. For the June 19 and June 26 issues of South Jersey Sports Weekly, end of the year awards will be handed out to the top teams and players from the spring 2019 season. The following features will run in the upcoming weeks:

June 19 – Girls Team of the Year and Player of the Year stories for softball, boys tennis, boys golf, girls golf and boys volleyball

June 26 – Boys Team of the Year and Player of the Year stories for baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys track and field and girls track and field.

Check back with South Jersey Sports Weekly over the next couple of weeks to see which teams and athletes are being honored this season.


Player of the Week

Scott Shaw
Cherry Hill High School West

“Your best players play the best for you in the biggest games,” Cherry Hill West baseball head coach Dan McMaster said. That quote certainly rings true for Lions senior outfielder Scott Shaw. In the South Jersey Group 3 championship at Triton on May 31, Shaw made the highlight reels with an incredible catch in center field. Shaw made a jumping grab near the temporary outfield fence and hung on to the ball as he fell over the fence at the end of the play. The catch robbed the Mustangs of a two-run home run and helped the Lions maintain a 2-0 lead at the time.

“When I saw it hit off the bat, I knew I could catch it,” Shaw said. “I just didn’t know if I had enough room to catch it.”

Then, in the seventh inning with Cherry Hill West down, 3-2, Shaw bashed a two-run home run to give the Lions the lead back. Cherry Hill West went on to win, 6-3, for the program’s first sectional title since 1993.

“It was a huge deal,” Shaw said of winning a South Jersey title. “We lost last year in the sectional final. Being down one run in the last inning, we thought, we couldn’t lose it again. We wouldn’t have another shot at this.”

Quotable: “Scott has made that play or a similar type of play like that hundreds of times in our practices because of our assistant coach, Nick Caputi,” McMaster said about Shaw’s dramatic catch, noting Caputi works with the outfielders on fielding every conceivable play in the outfield. “For him to go over a temporary fence and make that type of play is extraordinary. But he has tracked balls and made plays like that throughout his career.”

“When he came to us, he was a shortstop,” McMaster added about Shaw, a four-year starter for Cherry Hill West who will play baseball at Rider University next year. “We had a lot of talented infielders in the program. Scott willingly moved to the outfielder. Because of Nick Caputi and Scotty’s work ethic, he became a really good outfielder. It paid off for him. It really paid off for him big picture-wise.”


Scenes From Last Week

Baseball: South Jersey Group 4 Championship
Cherry Hill East vs. Eastern
(All photos: RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

Baseball: NJSIAA Non-Public B State Championship
Gloucester Catholic vs. St. Mary’s (Rutherford)
(All photos: MIKE MONOSTRA, South Jersey Sports Weekly)


Stories from Last Week


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