EGG HARBOR TWP. - Timber Creek coach Chris Grottini had a good feeling about his team's chances of winning the NJSIAA sectional Group 3 boys' track and field championship about halfway through the meet Saturday.
"We've had points up front, but now the second and third places are scoring," Grottini said. "We really do have depth."
The depth paid off as Timber Creek won with 142 points. Lacey Township was second with 62.
In the two-day meet at Egg Harbor Township, where boys' and girls' teams in Group 3 and 4 competed, Oakcrest's boys had reason for optimism in Group 4 early Saturday. It had 79 points after 10 events. Cherry Hill East was second with 29.50.
The Falcons finished with 125 points for the win. Egg Harbor Township placed second with 52.
The top six finishers in Group 3 advance to the state championships Friday and Saturday at South Plainfield The first six in Group 4 are scheduled to compete for state crowns at Old Bridge.
Timber Creek ended the track events with a victory in the 4x400-meter relay, when Donnie House, Brian Grant, Greg Black, and Corey Harrity won in 3 minutes, 24.59 seconds.
The Chargers received a boost when junior Kevin Potter, senior House, and junior Josh Gray came in first, second, and fourth in the 110 hurdles.
Jorge Zarate earned the first win of the day for Oakcrest when he was clocked in 1:57.32 to win the 800 in a dramatic finish.
With Vineland's Lequan James closing fast, Zarate held on to win by three one-hundredths of a second.
"This feels great for the team," Zarate said. "I went out guns blazing, and it paid off."
Conspicuous by his absence in the 200 was Timber Creek's Damiere Byrd, the defending state champion in the event. Byrd said he was tired from rounds in the 100, 400, and long jump.
"The 200 doesn't really matter," Byrd said. "I'm still in four events" at states.
The South Carolina-bound Byrd is set to compete in the 100, 400, and long jump and be an alternate on the 4x400 relay.
Byrd won the 100 and placed second in the 400 Friday. He was first in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 51/2 inches Saturday.
Fabian Santiago, Reginald Morton, and Darnell Charles dominated the Group 4 200 for Oakcrest by placing first through third, respectively. Santiago won in 21.99 seconds. The junior also had won the 100 on Friday.
In another exciting race, Kingsway's Tivo Rivera leaned at the finish line and then tumbled to victory in the 800 in 1:55.22, eight one-hundredths of a second faster than Lacey's Anthony Colasurdo.
"I leaned and lost my balance," said Rivera, a senior. "I'm very pleased because my season hasn't been so great."