Dillon Page leapt into the Cherry Hill East history books in his final track meet as a junior last month, capturing his first Meet of Champions title after being the only competitor to clear the 6’6” mark in high jump during the 52nd annual competition.
The victory cements Page as the first boy in Cherry Hill East history to win a Meet of Champions title. According to the school, three girls have won Meet of Champions titles, with the most recent being when Teneacia Smith earned her second consecutive long-jump title in 1992.
Perhaps just as impressively, the victory in South Plainfield secured an undefeated regular season for Page in his event, with wins in all invitational and postseason meets.
Looking back, Page can remember when he hoped to simply qualify for the outdoor Meet of Champions just a few short months ago, without even giving much of a thought to taking home the title.
“I remember just thinking that the goal was maybe to qualify for the Meet of Champions this season,” said Page. “I really didn’t even think winning would be possible for me. Making it to the highest meet possible was the goal; I honestly didn’t think I would be able to win.”
Page had previously qualified for the Meet of Champions during the 2020 indoor season, when he finished in second place at the state Group IV meet and ninth at the Meet of Champions. That was before the pandemic shut down what could have been a fantastic sophomore year and outdoor season for the young athlete.
Coming into his junior year, with what was a heavily modified winter season, Page was months removed from being on the verge of a breakthrough after being stuck at a personal record of 6’2” during the previous indoor season.
Fortunately, he was able to jump both 6’4” and 6’6” for the first time during a dual meet against Washington Township earlier this March at the Bubble in Toms River, propelling him to the next level for the rest of the year.
“Right before lockdown, my personal record was 6’2”, and I was so close to clearing 6’4”, so my goal was to make that,” said Page. “But during my first indoor meet this year, I actually had a double PR and got both in the same meet.”
Mike Surrency has been an assistant coach with Cherry Hill East for the past 17 years, and has continued to work more with Page since he came to the team as a freshman.
Page played an instrumental role in the team going undefeated in dual meets this year, according to Surrency, excelling at high jump while also taking a more active role on the team as a hurdler and scoring crucial points.
“He’s the type of kid that accepts his role and is always willing to do what the coaches ask him to do so that he can help the team,” said Surrency. “You really couldn’t have asked for a better kid to coach.”
Looking ahead to Page’s senior season, the coach expects similar accolades for him next year, potentially with even more impressive stats.
“I really see next season going exactly the same way as this year did for him; he has a great work ethic and it’s going to help him achieve whatever he wants to achieve,” said Surrency.
“He’s achieved so much this season, and I foresee him being able to repeat all of that next season as well.”