EGG HARBOR TWP., N.J. - Oakcrest's Fabian Santiago and Timber Creek's Damiere Byrd expressed different feelings about running the 100-meter dash Friday, the first day of competition in the NJSIAA sectional Group 4 and 3 track and field championships.
But the two sprinters had one thing in common to highlight the day: victory in the glamour event in Group 4 and 3, respectively.
Their teams also led in the standings, Oakcrest with 38 points and Timber Creek with 71 when the day ended.
Junior Darnell Charles gave Oakcrest a boost by capturing a first, second and third place in running and jumping events.
In the girls' competition, Delsea led Group 3 with 54 points and Lenape was second in Group 4 with 42. Southern Regional led with 43.
The meet is scheduled to conclude Saturday with the top six finishers in each event advancing to the state Group 4 championships at Old Bridge and the state Group 3 championships at South Plainfield next Friday and Saturday.
"It feels the same as other meets," said Santiago, the boys' defending Group 4 100-meter state champion. "You're running against time."
His time in the 100 was 10.75 seconds.
Byrd talked about the weather and the fact that his trials' time in the 100 was a personal best.
"Waking up this morning and seeing the sun made me feel good," said the senior, who is the defending 100-, 200-, and 400-meter state champion. "And there was a good tail wind.
"We never got this type of weather all season."
Byrd was clocked in 10.60 seconds in the prelims. He did even better in the final, with a 10:36.
However, he placed second in the 400 in 49.57 seconds. Cumberland's Jeron Hadden won in 49.44.
Shawnee's Annie Johnson and Timber Creek's Bryanna Williams won the girls' 100 in Group 4 and 3, respectively. Johnson was clocked in 12.07; Williams in 12:09.
Johnson edged Williamstown's Gabrielle Farquharson by two one-hundredths of a second when she won in 12.07.
"This is my first year of spring track," said Johnson, a junior, as she waited anxiously for the results.
Felicia O'Donnell, Delsea's star distance runner, won the 1,600 in 5 minutes, 1.75 seconds, teammate Brianna Hunt won the high jump in 5-4, and teammate Brianna Crofton placed second in the 100 in 12.29.
Charles won the 400 in 49.31, placed second in the triple jump with a distance of 44 feet, 5 inches, and was third in the 100 in 10.98.
"Coach [Les Petty] said we were favored to win, and it feels good to know that we are doing our jobs," Charles said.
"My legs are dead."
Charles said that Cherry Hill East's Alex Reber had led the 400 until the last couple of meters, before he passed the talented junior.
"I started kicking in the last 100 and caught him at the end," Charles said.