Elliott Denman presents Congratulations Poster, autographed by Shore Athletic Club teammates and friends, to 11-time National Champion and 2-time USA Olympian Ajee' Wilson, Poster was designed and created by Shore AC's Mary Beth McDonnell. Photo courtesy of Chanta Jackson, Township of Neptune Board of Education.
NEPTUNE HONORS AJEE’ WILSON AT TRACK-NAMING CEREMONY
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
These are heady days for Shore Conference enthusiasts.
The 48 conference high schools, 31 of them located in New Jersey’s Monmouth County, the other 17 in the adjacent Ocean County,
have a whole lot to be verrrrry-verrrrry proud of, in and out of the world of sports.
Let us remind you that:
A Toms River High School North alumna, Maria Ressa, has been accorded the honor of all global honors. Ms, Ressa is a 2021 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Wow, wow, and wow again !!
Of course, of course, a Freehold High School alumnus continues to be “The Boss” of the entire Rock ‘n Roll universe. Cheers again, Mr. Bruce Springsteen,
While Team USA men continue to struggle in global soccer, Team USA women continue atop – or near the pinnacle - of the sport known to the rest of the universe as football.
Of course, of course, with her three Olympic gold medals and two FIFA World Cup golds, Point Pleasant Borough High School alumna Christie
Pearce – the now-retired Team USA captain - is recognized as a principal building block of all the glories attained in her era.
Holmdel High School alumnus Brian Hanlon continues building on his reputation as one of the world's foremost sculptors, His elegant and numerous works can be seen, pretty much, everywhere. And so there he was at St. John's University last week, unveiling the magnificent Lou Carnesecca statute to be displayed - where else - in the lobby of the Carnesecca Arena building that is home to the
noted Red Storm athletes in basketball and other sports. He'd designed it all, etched it all, created it all. So well that even Coach Looie, now 96, expressed his complete approval.
Before the official unveiling, Looie had kidded, "as I've said, Michelangelo couldn't have helped my face." But he soon changed that tune to delight.
Meanwhile, way down yonder in New Orleans, the NFL Saints plan to induct the late and truly great Long Branch High School alumnus,
Sam Mills, into their Ring of Honor, in recognition of the nine brilliant years he spent playing his heart out as likely the greatest undersized linebacker the league has ever seen.
He’s beloved by Carolina Panthers and their corps of fans, too. He’d played three more brilliant years as a Panther after his Saints’ days.
A Panthers’ spokesman, doing so with ultimate emotion, now reminds us, “in 2005, Mills died of cancer, but before the team’s 2003 playoff opener against the Cowboys, Mills told the team “when I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do, quit or keep pounding.
“I’m a fighter. I kept pounding. You’re fighters, too. Keep pounding!”
And so that phrase — “keep pounding” — is still stitched into the collar of every Panthers jersey.
The spree of alumni recognition reached Neptune, too, in recent days.
Celebrating the amazing run of success enjoyed by international track and field star Ajee’ Wilson – who actually attended Neptune Township’s Academy of Allied Health and Science, but competed for the across-the-street Neptune High School before her graduation in 2012 – Neptune hosted the dedication ceremony in which the oval at its Reynolds Athletic Complex was officially christened as
“The Ajee’ Wilson Track.”
The formal gathering Oct. 15 was the highlight of a gala weekend featuring a Friday afternoon pep rally in the high school gymnasium, induction of the latest additions to the Neptune Hall of Fame, and a Saturday morning parade leading into the Homecoming football game and 22-8 victory over Brick Township.
The Neptune Township Board of Education actually announced the dedication of the track to Ms. Wilson back on Jan. 27, but the timing wasn’t exactly right. So it waited 10 months to formalize the proceedings.
A lot of other things have been askew, timing-wise, in the track and field world.
Look back to the close of the 2019 world season and you’ll see that Wilson – champion of the Diamond League, the global circuit of biggest-time meets – was ranked Number One in the world in the 800 meters that year, a campaign that concluded with the Tokyo Olympic Games due up the following summer.
Only an upsetting third place in the 800 – a race she was favored to win – at the season-concluding World Outdoor Championships in Doha, Qatar, spelled less than perfection to her 2019 campaign.
But – as the world would soon learn – this Covid 19 thing would turn the globe upside down and downside up.
Biggest-time sport – from the Tokyo Olympics on down – necessarily self-revamped. As the pandemic raged – with its ghastly global toll – most everything – sports just a minuscule phase of it all - was put on hold.
Thus, calendar adjustments forced reassessments in virtually all the things
we’d all considered phases of normalcy.
It was a miracle that the Tokyo Olympic Games – still dubbed the 2020 Games but staged a year later – were held at all.
Certainly, Ajee’ Wilson was there in Japan to have it out with the world’s best 800-meter runners. But certainly, too, she wasn’t at her best, either. At the USA Trials in Oregon, it had taken an all-out sprint down the final straightaway to claim the third and final spot on Tokyo-bound Team USA.
The gold medal in Tokyo thus went to an American teammate and fellow Central New Jerseyan, Athing Mu of Trenton, in the American record time of 1:55.21, the silver to Great Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson, the bronze to USA’s Raevyn Rogers. Wilson, surely not at her sharpest, had bowed out in the semifinals.
But bygones will surely be bygones.
By Elliott Denman
Of members/teammates/friends/colleagues doing big things in our favorite sport,
as well as "in the real world" of academic/educational/professional success, etc.
Add Marvin Morgan to the list.
A Shore Conference and NJSIAA sprint champion for Neptune High School,
, and then the Heptagonal/Ivy League sprint champion for the University of Pennsylvania,
he is now making very major strides in the academic world !!
Marvin has just earned his BA with honors physics and astrophysics, along with
his Masters Cum Laude in physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania.
And now he has relocated to Austin, Texas to pursue his Ph.D. studies at the University of Texas' College of Natural Science.
Clearly, Mr. Marvin Morris is on the fast track to truly major achievements.
Way to go, Marvin and parents and family,
and all those who've played a role in his long list of successes along the way !!!
Elliott Denman and Shore AC teammates...
Steve Dolan Named Frank Dolson Director of the Penn Relays
PHILADELPHIA – Steve Dolan, currently the James P. Tuppeny/Betty J. Costanza Director of Track & Field and Cross Country at the University of Pennsylvania, has also been named the Frank Dolson Director of the Penn Relays. Dolan will continue in his role leading Penn's track & field and cross country teams, which will further align the intercollegiate programs with one of the premier events in track & field, the Penn Relays. Dolan succeeds Dave Johnson, who announced his retirement as the Director in September, 2020.
"As the former long-time Executive Director of the Penn Relays, it gives me great pleasure to name Steve Dolan as our next director," said Alanna Shanahan, the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W'69 Director of Athletics and Recreation at Penn. "Steve has the vision and experience to take this nationally and internationally recognized event and make it even more impactful. By continuing in his role with Penn track & field, there will be greater alignment between the varsity programs and the Relays, benefitting both programs immensely."
"I also want to thank Dave Johnson for his decades of service to Penn and Penn Relays," Shanahancontinued. "The Relays are in a better place in 2021 due to Dave's leadership, care and love of this event for more than three decades in an official capacity, and many more as a fan and contributor."
Dolan has been guiding Penn's track & field and cross country programs since 2012, and intends to lead the Penn Relays by recruiting elite participants, creating a more entertaining experience for participants and fans, building upon the Penn Relays brand year-round and in the community, and hosting more track & field events at historic Franklin Field.
"I am honored by the opportunity to help lead the next chapter of the Penn Relays and humbled to follow Dave Johnson with this responsibility," Dolan said. "Dave did an outstanding job both developing and leading the Penn Relays over the last twenty-six years as the event director.
"As we look to the future, I am inspired to work with Alanna and Scott Ward (Senior Associate Athletic Director, Chief Operations Officer / Executive Director of the Penn Relays) to build on the incredible history of the event. Having attended the Penn Relays over the last three decades and as both a coach and a parent, I am keenly aware of the profound positive impact this event has on so many people."
Aligning the track & field and Penn Relays offices allows Penn Athletics to sync strategic goals and resources and will ultimately help both grow in the coming years. Penn has recently expanded its track & field and cross country coaching staff, and an associate director of Penn Relays will assist Dolan with meet management and promoting the sport of track & field in the local and regional community. The growth of future staffing will benefit both track & field and Penn Relays.
"The Penn Relays is a tradition like no other for our campus community, the City of Philadelphia and the track & field world at-large," Dolan said. "We are excited to host a great Penn Relays Carnival in 2022. I can't wait to see everyone in Franklin Field the last week in April!"
Dolan currently is in his tenth season as the Director of Track & Field/Cross Country at Penn where he oversees all aspects of the men's and women's track & field and cross country programs and serves as the distance coach for the men's program.
One of the most highly regarded coaches in the country, Dolan has transformed the Quakers program in his time in Philadelphia. In each of his first eight seasons at the helm (pre-pandemic), Penn sent at least 11 NCAA Outdoor qualifiers, including 20+ men and women combined each from 2016-19, and produced at least one outdoor All-American each year.
Throughout his career, Dolan has coached five college Championship of America relay teams at the Penn Relays, including the women's distance medley relay and the men's 4 x mile at Penn, and two men's 4 x mile teams and one men's distance medley relay at Princeton.
In those first eight years, Dolan has led Penn to a total of seven team Ivy League championships (two men's cross country, three women's indoor track & field and two women's outdoor track & field). A total of 33 All-Americans, 81 individual Heptagonal champions, 190 All-Ivy honorees and 42 Academic All-Ivy recipients have competed for Dolan, who is a seven-time unanimous Ivy League Coach of the Year. More than 50 current program records, men's and women's combined, have come under Dolan's supervision.
Prior to Penn, Dolan spent eight years at Princeton where he served as the head men's cross country coach and assistant men's track coach. While at Princeton, Dolan was honored as NCAA Regional Coach of the Year on four occasions.
Before arriving at Princeton, Dolan was the Director of Men's and Women's Track and Cross Country at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) for 11 years. Under Dolan's tenure, TCNJ became a national power. Dolan's teams and top individuals were regularly among the best in the nation. Dolan coached 66 All-America award winners that combined for 126 All-America citations. This group includes five NCAA champions. Dolan was named as the NCAA Division III Regional Coach of the Year 12 times as the head of the track & cross country programs at TCNJ.
Dolan is a native of Bloomington, Minn. He received his bachelor's degree at the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) in business administration in 1992. While at UST, he was the 1992 NCAA Division III national champion in the decathlon and was runner-up in the event in 1991. Dolan set school records in the decathlon, pentathlon and javelin while at UST and was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. He received his master's degree at TCNJ in athletic administration in 1994.
Dolan and his wife, Nicole, have two children, Tim, a senior track athlete at Penn, and Sean, a junior track athlete at Villanova. As part of the Hopewell Valley High School Boys Distance Medley Relay, Tim and Sean helped set a Penn Relays record in the event in 2018.
Link to Original Article - October 7, 2021