SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - Woodbury's Jared Roberts couldn't believe what his team had just accomplished Saturday at the state Group 1, Group 3 and Non-Public A boys and girls' track and field championships.
With only eight athletes and a dim outlook from individual sectional results, the Thundering Herd galloped to the Group 1 team title with 50 points for its first team title since 1978.
Timber Creek won the Group 3 state crown with 64 points, and Paul VI finished 10th in the Non-Public A competition with 16 points, the most by a South Jersey team, but far behind winner Don Bosco Prep.
The top six finishers in each event advance to the Meet of Champions, scheduled for Thursday at South Plainfield.
"We were underdogs," Roberts said. "We wanted it, and we believed in ourselves."
Woodbury coach Dan Jones said that he figured his team would finish fifth based on its sectional results. He then told his athletes to "give it our all."
Jones said it helped that some of his young men are three-sport athletes, like Roberts.
A point guard on the basketball team, a running back on the football team and a jumper on the track team, Roberts accumulated 28 points by winning the high jump (6 feet, 6 inches) and long jump (21-41/2) and placing second in the triple jump with a 43-11, a meet record. Glassboro's Ryan Chance set the old mark of 41-11 in 2009.
"I'm going to the Naval Academy next year to play basketball," Roberts said.
The Timber Creek boys Saturday accomplished a goal that had been set even before spring practice began in March: a three-peat as state champion.
"We can do four," said Damiere Byrd, who is more a man of action than of words. The junior played a huge role in helping his team capture the crown this year. Last year, he was injured and his contributions were minimal.
Byrd on Saturday won the 200-meter dash in 21.80, and ran the third leg of the 4x400-meter relay team that placed second in 3 minutes, 19.36 seconds, good enough for eight points, which gave them the team win over second-place West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
Byrd on Friday won the 100 in 10.68 and the 400 in 47.88, a personal-best time.
"We were down by 10 [points], I heard, when I was on the line to run the 200," Byrd said about his final individual event of the weekend. "So I had to win."