EGG HARBOR TWP. - Delsea distance runner Felicia O'Donnell knew exactly what she needed to do to help her teammates Saturday, the final day of competition in the sectional Group 3 and 4 championships.
The Rutgers-bound senior needed to win the Group 3 800-meter race, and she did, in 2 minutes, 17.9 seconds. Although the results didn't come close to her personal-best time of 2:16, O'Donnell was pleased for the squad.
"Someone told me we were down by two [points] to Timber Creek," said O'Donnell, who had won the 1,600 on Friday. "I knew a win would help our scoring."
It did. Delsea, which won the sectional Group 2 title last year, captured the Group 3 crown this time with 116 points. Winslow Township placed second with 63.50.
The first six places in Group 3 advance to the state championships, at South Plainfield on Friday and Saturday, while the same number in Group 4 are set to compete at Old Bridge simultaneously.
The Lenape girls won the Group 4 title with 107 points, overcoming Southern Regional, which finished second with 86. Southern had led Lenape, 43-42, through Friday's competition.
"I'm overwhelmed," Lenape junior Evann Thompson said after it was announced that Lenape had won. "This is the first time that the girls have won sectionals."
Thompson and Allyson Gallagher were part of the 4x400 relay team that placed second, behind Williamstown, in 4:02.12. Thompson will compete for a state title in three other events next week: 400 hurdles, 200, and 100 hurdles.
As Lenape did, Delsea won a state indoor team championship during the winter season and had many of the same girls competing in the spring.
"This is really a big accomplishment, two [sectional] wins in a row, because we really hadn't done anything before that," said O'Donnell, who won the 1,600 on Friday and the 800 on Saturday.
"The key was that we put in a lot of training before the season. Winning indoors definitely showed that we still had it for the spring season."
Brianna Crofton, who anchored Delsea's victorious 4x400 relay team that also had O'Donnell, Ashley Woodards, and Lateaque Jackson - they were clocked in 4:00.16 - also will compete in three other events at states: the 100, 200, and 400.
Ste'yce McNeil helped lift Winslow Township to second place in Group 3 by winning three events and placing third in another.
McNeil, a junior, won the 400 hurdles in 1:02.56 and the 400 in 57.21 on Friday. She captured the 200 in 25.10 and finished third in the 100 hurdles in 14:24 on Saturday.
"I feel proud," McNeil said. "This is one of my best years in high school track, thanks to my new coach, George Horne. I didn't run at sectionals or states last year."
Washington Township's Dina Iacone redeemed herself in the Group 4 3,200. The junior won the race in 11:06.70, not a fast time for her but fast enough.
"I'm excited, because last year I had an awful race in the two-mile and I wanted to come back and win," said Iacone, one of several athletes who noted that a hot track resulted in slower times.
The junior also won the 1,600 on Friday and will represent the Minutemaids in two events at states.