Washington Township's Xavier Fraction and Haddonfield's Marielle Hall are two of the South Jersey athletes who are scheduled to compete in the NJSIAA track and field Meet of Champions today at 3:30 p.m. at South Plainfield High School.
Fraction, a senior distance runner, won the 1,600-meter race in 4 minutes, 16.72 seconds and placed second in the 800 in 1:53.77 at the Group 4 state championship meet last weekend at Egg Harbor Township.
Hall, a junior, broke two Group 2 state records in winning the 1,600 and 800 Friday and Saturday at South Plainfield.
Last year, Ocean City junior Brett Johnson won the 1,600 at the Meet of Champions in 4:09.3. Fraction placed fourth in 4:15.66, his personal-best time.
Performances are expected to improve significantly in the final high school meet of the season. Last year at the Meet of Champions, Fraction placed seventh in the 800 in 1:55.16. On Saturday, he was clocked in 1:53.77 behind Robert Andrews of Manalapan, who won the state meet in 1:52.39.
The fastest time in the state was 1:52.06, recorded by Morris Hills' Liam Tansey, who won the event in Group 3.
"My goal is to get to states and rock and roll," Fraction said before last weekend. Today, he'll have to find a song with a faster beat.
Hall won the 1,600 on Friday in 4:52.99, breaking the 2001 meet record of 4:54.32 by Haddonfield's Erin Donohue, a 2008 Olympian. In the 800, Hall was clocked in 2:09.89 to break Donohue's 2001 meet record of 2:11.62.
Last year at the Meet of Champions, Hall placed 17th in the 800 in 2:16.55. Southern Regional's Jillian Smith won in 2:05.26.
Smith was clocked in 2:08.68 to win the Group 4 state title Saturday.
"I'm leading races now to compete in the larger meets," Hall said about the 800- and 1,600-meter races at the state meet. "I'm preparing myself" for the Meet of Champions.
Timber Creek's Montez Blair and Seneca's Drew Kanz will vie for titles in both the high jump and long jump at the Meet of Champions.
Kanz high-jumped 7 feet, 1 inch at the Burlington County Open on May 16. Blair, whose personal-best height was 7-0 at the Woodbury Relays a year ago, cleared 6-8 to win the Group 3 state meet Saturday. Kanz placed second at 6-6.
Kanz won the state long jump crown with a leap of 22-101/2 inches Saturday. Blair was second at 22-4. Kanz's distance was the best in any group at the state meet.
"I want to get back to the way I jumped last year," Blair said.
Camden senior Shaquanda Gainey said she feels confident for the Meet of Champions after winning the Group 2 state 100 high hurdles in 14.79 seconds.
Glassboro's James Brown should do well today after winning the Group 1 state title Friday in the 100 dash in 10.66 seconds, the best time of all the groups at states.
Kingsway's Chelsea Ley placed third in the 3,200 in 10:17.18 in last season's Meet of Champions. On Saturday, Ley was clocked in 10:28.42 to win the Group 4 title. The time broke a 2003 meet record of 10:34.18 by Red Bank's Amanda Trotter.