Florence's Curtis Thompson faced competition from New York, Pennsylvania, the Bahamas, and Jamaica on Friday at the Penn Relays.
But to win a gold watch in the high school boys' javelin championship, Thompson had to top an all-too-familiar foe: Holy Cross' Chris Mirabelli.
Thompson, the No. 6 seed, tossed the javelin 220 feet, 4 inches to secure second place and finish first among Americans. Mirabelli, a Burlington County League rival who was seeded seventh, took third with a throw of 207-7. Denzel Pratt, from the Bahamas, won with a mark of 220-7.
"It will hit me in about three hours when [the watch] is on my wrist," Thompson said.
Last spring, it was Mirabelli who got the best of Thompson. Mirabelli, a Rutgers recruit, took first place in the javelin at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Thompson finished fourth.
"It's a nice rivalry," Florence coach Rodney Roberson said. "They go back and forth. They represent Burlington County so well. I think it's pretty cool that at different meets, each one kind of pushes the other to do well."
Thompson's 220-4 was both a personal best and a school record for Florence. Thompson, who will throw for Mississippi State next year, set his previous personal best of 214-7 at the Penn Relays last year. He also heaved the javelin 213-9 on Friday.
"I love the runway," Thompson said of his success at Penn Relays.
Running in his first Penn Relays, Clearview's Bill Dolan placed fifth in the boys' mile with a time of 4 minutes, 18.74 seconds. He was seeded No. 14.
"The place is more important than the time," Dolan said. "I wanted to finish in the top six, so I'm happy with that."
Dolan was deep in the pack with around 300 meters to go. He passed about five runners to move up with a strong closing kick.
"The last 100 meters, my legs felt like lead," Dolan said. "It was so bad."
West Deptford's Nick Pulli took sixth in the shot put, sending the 12-pound shot 58-4. His final throw would have been near his personal best of 63-13/4, but he stepped out of the circle on the release and fouled.
Pulli, a Maryland recruit, said he was off balance, sore, and sick leading up to the Penn Relays. Even though he failed to break into the top three, he still was encouraged by how he performed.
"I'm feeling great right now," Pulli said. The final throw "gives me confidence because I was doing really bad in practice."
West Deptford coach Mark Dixon also was impressed by his shot putter's improvement.
"The best thing I saw out of him was progression going forward," Dixon said. "He was in a little bit of a funk. I think getting here kind of got him psyched up mentally."
Timber Creek finished 13th in the boys' 4x100 relay Large Schools heat with a time of 42.88. The Chargers will run in the Large Schools consolation race Saturday.