Sincere Rhea entered St. Augustine Prep as a football player.
He leaves as one of the Hermits’ all-time greats in track and field.
Already one of the top high hurdlers in the nation, Rhea showed his range and versatility on Saturday by winning the 400 meters at the Meet of Champions at Northern Burlington County High School.
“I wanted to show people how versatile I can really be,” said Rhea, who won the event in a time 47.89 seconds.
Rhea was the national indoor champion in the high hurdles and also won the event at the indoor Meet of Champions.
He won Non-Public A state titles in the high hurdles and 400 meters at the state meet and planned to run both at the Meet of the Champions.
He ran 13.78 during the hurdles trials on Saturday but pulled out of the finals after misstepping on the first hurdle.
But Rhea, a Penn State recruit, didn’t need to prove anything as a hurdler. He wanted to show what he could do in the 400, an event in which he competed for the first time this season at the Non-Public A sectional championships May 24-25.
“I’ve been working with my coach on the 400 and I’m actually not surprised,” Rhea said. “I knew I could do it.”
Rhea was a defensive back and wide receiver during his football career at St. Augustine. Growing up, he thought that would always be his sport.
“I was all football growing up,” Rhea said. “I never even ran track.”
Rhea tried track for the first time as a freshman. He developed into one of the top hurdlers in South Jersey history, and a top quarter-miler, too.
“I loved it right away,” Rhea said of track. “It just came natural to me.”
Woodrow Wilson senior Dennisha Page is the fastest girl in the state.
She can say that twice.
Page won both the 100 and 200 at the Meet of Champions. She also took third in the 400.
Page won the 100 in 11.86. She ran 11.63, the sixth-fastest time in South Jersey history, in the qualifying heats.
Page ran 55.41 to take third in the 400.
But it was in the 200, her favorite event, where Page set herself apart.
She won the event in a time of 23.63, the fastest time in South Jersey history, per South Jersey Track Blog. The previous record of 23.69 was set in 1981 by Willingboro’s legendary Michelle Glover.
Page, a Syracuse recruit, said she loves the 200 because it’s “not too short, not too long.”
Page now is the fastest South Jersey girl ever in the event, although Eastern’s English Gardner ran a 23.60 at an AAU meet during the summer of 2007. Traditionally, marks set during summer track are not recognized as high school records since they are considered to be outside the school season.
Three girls named Smith, who are not related, won events at the Meet of Champions.
Atlantic City’s Claudine Smith won the triple jump with a leap of 42 feet, 2 inches. She also took second in the high hurdles in 13.67 seconds.
Oakcrest’s Brielle Smith won the javelin for the second year in a row. She threw 157-0. Last season, she set the meet record with a throw of 163-8.
Pennsville’s Arianna Smith won the 400 hurdles in a time of 1:00.13, her personal best.
Highland 10th-grader Floyd Whitaker soared past the 50-foot barrier and won the triple jump at the Meet of Champions with a leap of 50 feet, 2 ½ inches, a meet record.