SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - The final day of competition in NJSIAA Group 2, Group 3, and Non-Public 3 boys' track and field produced three South Jersey state-championship teams Saturday.
Timber Creek won its fourth consecutive Group 3 crown, Haddonfield defended its Group 2 title, and St. Joseph of Hammonton won its first team championship.
The top six individuals in each event will advance to the Meet of Champions on Thursday at Old Bridge.
Haddonfield, known for its prowess in distance events, was impressive in winning the 3,200-meter run. Ben Potts, Tim Malloy, and Matt Nussbaum came in 1-2-3 to pile up 24 points for the Bulldogs.
When asked what won the meet for the Bulldogs, Haddonfield coach Kyle Williams said, "The 3,200. Those three, especially Ben Potts, had a heck of a weekend."
Potts was clocked in 9 minutes, 18.36 seconds for the victory. He said he had never run the 3,200 that fast until Saturday. He was motivated by his second-place finish in the 800 a few hours earlier as well as his distance coach, Nick Baker, who told him to set the pace from the start and not let up.
"We went 1-2-3 in the mile last year and the year before," said Potts, who will head to Cornell in the fall. "We knew what it took to do that, and we gave it our all."
In the 800, Potts placed second in 1:56.14. Pleasantville's Isaac Clark won in 1:55.49. Potts had been seeded second in the event.
"I had a poor start, and we went out slow," Potts said. "And I don't have the leg speed to run away from those 400 [meter] guys.
"It's bittersweet. I wanted to do better in the meet, overall, but it's exciting to finally run a fast two miles."
Potts finished the two days of competition with a gold medal in the 1,600 and 3,200 events and a silver in the 800.
It was an incredible feat for Timber Creek to win the meet. The Chargers had only one individual winner, Damiere Byrd in the 100. The rest were all second- through sixth-place finishes.
"This is a testament to our team depth and camaraderie," coach Chris Grottini said.
Byrd, Timber Creek's super sprinter, was the defending state champion in the 100, 200, and 400. He wanted to repeat as state champion in the 100 and 400, win the long jump, and be part of a victorious 4x400 relay.
However, tightness in his left hamstring after the 100 on Friday sidelined him for the balance of the meet. While winning the 100, a brace flew off Byrd's left knee, and he failed to appear for the 400. On Saturday, he did not long-jump or run in the relay.
The South Carolina-bound senior said that he felt fine but that he had conferred with his coaches and they decided to hold him out of his remaining races.
Grottini said he didn't want his ace athlete to risk further injury. Furthermore, he felt confident that his underclassmen would bring home another trophy.
Carl Watson was the key to St. Joseph's winning its first state team title. The junior won the 100, 200, and 400, and anchored the victorious 4x400 relay.
"I'm proud of myself and I'm happy for the team," Watson said.