All season in Middlesex County it has been about East Brunswick’s boys speed and the distance dominance of Metuchen’s girls – and that was certainly the case at Day 1 of the GMC Championships.
Bears senior Jayden Phillip clocked a county record in the 100 and the Bulldogs’ senior combo of Caroline Schleif and Molly Malague racked up 36 points between the two of them in the 800 and 3,200 on Tuesday on the track at Lombardi Field in Old Bridge.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that I can go to practice every day and work hard and things like that can happen when you work hard,” Phillip said. “I’ve been working on everything from distance things and explosive things in practice. Sometimes I have doubts in myself, but sometimes I pump myself up and have the courage.”
It’s a complete 180 from the indoor campaign for Phillip, who didn’t put together a time good enough in any of his events to qualify for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.
“He had a rough winter season, so to see the way he has been training this year just shows he’s a special athlete,” DiGioacchino said. “The county record makes that very apparent. This kid breathes track, so I’m not very surprised.”
DiGioacchino went on to say that senior Chris Serrao, the county record holder in the 110 hurdles and the second-place finisher to Phillip, is probably the happiest on the team for him. He just might be telling the truth.
“We’re neck and neck in practice every day and we push each other so hard,” Serrao said. “To see him run the times he’s running, it puts a smile on my face.”
The is an enormous PR for Phillip, shattering his previous best of . What does he think he’s capable of next?
Caroline Schleif competes in the 4×800 meter relay during the NJSIAA Middlesex County Relays at South Brunswick High School in Monmouth s | For NJ Advance Media
Another meet record almost bit the dust later on in the day, but a school record will have to suffice for the PR turned in by the aforementioned Malague in the 3,200.
Malague would take second in the 800 with a 2: earlier in the day, the same race Schleif won with a 2:. Schleif was second behind Malague in the 3,200 with an .
“Molly and Caroline are great seniors and they have been a big part of our program for four years,” head coach Kelli Holleran said. “Molly didn’t even go for it in the first mile of that 3,200. We’re just trying to have good performances ahead of tomorrow. We’re walking away running really well and putting it all together. I’m happy for them.”
The is the new fifth-best number in the state and an enormous PR for Malague, who’s best came at the division championships earlier this month – a . The slower first mile was ran in an attempt to help the team pick up even more points, and they were successful in that effort [Gianna Hernandez finished in fifth].
“We were trying to set up Gianna [Hernandez] for a good start,” Malague said. “We picked it up as we went. We ran good in the 800 earlier in the day and we wanted to keep it going for the team score. We’re doing what we need to do for the team.”
The 2: in the 800 for the Columbia commit in Schleif didn’t come with a PR, however she did accomplish a first in the race.
“I didn’t have a time going into it, so I just wanted to see how I could run it on my own,” Schleif said. “I went out at 68 seconds and negative split with a 67. It was great to be able to negative split because I haven’t done that before in the 800. It gets me excited for what I can do in the future and at the sectional and group meets.”
Metuchen is right on Piscataway’s tail in the team points standings with the likes of South Plainfield, East Brunswick and South Brunswick in that order also within single digits.
The hope is for Schleif and Malague to help rack up 36 more points, although Holleran might think big picture and preserve them. We’ll find out tomorrow what the plan is, and if the Bulldogs can dethrone South Brunswick and its quest for 16-straight county titles on the girls end.
“We’re going to see what we can do here,” Holleran said. “We’re definitely strong in the distance events and the middle distance events. We’re not trying to run them to death, but we’ll figure it out and see what we can do.”
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