WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – The USA National Track and Field Championships are coming up July 6-9 in Eugene, Oregon.
The World Athletics Championships – the global title event in the most global of all sports, track and field – open in Budapest August 19 and run through the 27th.
For an array of elite competitors – and to the delight of those who attended the Elliott Denman/36th Annual New Jersey International meet, and the
Shore Athletic Club’s meet organizers – the very good news is that
their route to “Tracktown USA” (Eugene) and quite possibly the
Hungarian capitol (Budapest) – may now run through
West Long Branch, Monmouth County, New Jersey USA.
“This is a great meet, I’m so glad they invited me, I’m so glad
I came,” said Jonathan Reniewicki, one of the top stars of the Elliott D/NJI
Meet, staged Saturday, June 17 at Monmouth University’s
Joe Compagni Track at Kessler Stadium.
With his brilliant 3:37.06 win in the men’s elite Dr. John Connors 1500-Meter Run, Reniewicki, a 27-year-old Arizona State University graduate who now represents the Under Armour team of top runners – many of them
track and field pros – the performance was a major breakthrough and
put him “right up there” on the national charts.
He’d already been recognized as a top-flight 5,000-meter runner
with a best of 13:20.31 for that 3.1-mile event, but now he’s a challenger for top honors in the 1500 – sometimes called “the metric mile,” – too.
Which event – or which events – will he run in Eugene? That’s still to be determined. But it’s a question that puts a wide smile on Reniewicki’s face.
“Now I’ll have my options, now I’ll have a pair of opportunities,” he told an interviewer after his Joe Compagni Track triumph.
His big win at the Elliott D/NJI Meet was both convincing and record-setting.
Ben Allen (3:41.30) and Jack Salisbury (3:42.33) ran 2-3 – also under
sub 4-minute mile pace – but Reniewicki raced home at least 30 yards ahead and in the process erased the meet record of 3:42.33 set by Australia’s
Sam McEntee in 2012.
Now – after top-notch Joe Compagni Track triumphs of their own – you can list Ahmed Jaziri, Derek Johnson, Alex Basten, Eric Holt, Emily MacKay, Helen Schlachtenlaufen, Meredith Rizzo, Lydia Olivere, Jeffrey Kline, Jacob Moran and Tyler Mitchell – as athletes to watch, too, in the big meets just ahead.
The Elliott D/NJI Meet prides itself on its globalism – over 40 nations have been represented in it since its first edition at Holmdel Hgh School in 1987 – and now the now the meet has a record-breaker from Tunisia.
He’s Jaziri, the former NCAA champion from Eastern Kentucky, who hopes to use his blazing 8:15.35 triumph in the Horace Ashenfelter Men’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase race as the clincher to repesent his North Africa homeland at the Worlds in Budapest.
The 8:15.35 clocking not only demolished the meet record by over a minute but was the fastest steeplechase time in the USA this year and 14th fastest in the world. And of those 13 quicker marks, all were run at either the Paris, France, or Rabat, Morocco meets, all million-dollar-plus stops on the Diamond League
circuit of major pro racing events.
Virginia’s Johnson (8:25.73) and Under Armour’s Basten (8:31.11) were Jaziri’s top pursuers, with personal bests of their own.
Empire Elite Club’s Holt, who ran a 3:54.09 mile last year at Middletown’s Mater Dei Prep track, dipped down to half that distance and blazed to a 1:47.48
win here in the Rich Kenah 800 Meters.
The Chrissy D’Alessandro Shaheen Memorial women’s 1500 Meters was another sizzler. It was as close as they come – New Balance Club’s MacKay (4:01.52) just edging Nike’s Schlachtenlaufen (4:01.55) by inches in a race that saw both crush the meet record of 4:07.89 set by Canadian Olympian Sheila Reid in 2012. Not only that, these 1-2 finishers are now the 4-5 fastest Americans and 21-22 on the world list for 2023.
The women’s steeplechase rce was brilliant, too.
Rizzo, a Yale graduate representing the Idaho Afoot club, nosed out Olivere, the Villanova star, 9;54.72 to 9:54.91, in a dash for the finish line that saw both demolish yet another meet record.
Meanwhile, the throwing events were raging on adjacent fields.
University of Maryland’s Kline won the men’s Al Blozis Memorial Shot Put – honoring the late and great former Georgetown University and New York Football Giants star who died heroically in the closing stages of World War II – with a toss of 62-2 ¼.
Moran, representing the Boston North Club, led the way in the men’s Bob Roggy Memorial Javelin – honoring the Holmdel great for whom this meet was first staged in 1987 – with his throw of 237-4.
Williams, the Widener University coach representing host Shore AC, led the way in the men’s Ira Wolfe Hammer Throw with his 243-11 heave that now ranks him seventh in the nation,
Shore AC’s Elisia Lancaster was a double winner in the women’s Al Blozis Shot Put (47-1) and Oneithea “Neni” Lewis Hammer Throw Throw (205-1.) Rhode Island’s Julia Campezato led the way in the women’s Barbara Friedrich Parcinski Javelin (158-0.)
The 1-Mile Racewalk events were named for a pair of Shore AC Olympians,
meet namesakes Denman and Todd Scully, the famed “Roger Bannister of racewalking “ with his historic 5:55.9 performance - as first man to walk a mile under 6 minutes, at the 1979 Mllrose Games - and saw top honors go to Shore AC’s Sam Allen (6:43.93) and Marist College’s Mia Priore (7:36.25.) Masters (40-up) walk champions were Curt Clausen (8:54.63) and Michelle Rohl (7:45.71), both three-time USA Olympians.
A top high schooler in the meet was Northern Burlington Regional sophomore Liliah Gordon, already a Junior Olympic national champion, who won the Dr. Norbert Sander Memorial Women’s Elite 5,000 meters in 17:32.80, yet another meet record.
The meet program listed events for men and women in the Youth, Open, Masters and Elite divisions and nearly all events were named for past greats of the sport, the majority of them with New Jersey ties.
In that category were such other events as the men’s Frank Budd 100, Andy Stanfield 200, Larry James 400, Renaldo Nehemiah 110 hurdles, Mike Pascuzzo high jump and Norman Tate triple jump, and the women’s Joetta Clark Diggs 800. Other events were titled for Shore AC stars Aliann Pompey, John Kuhi, Arthur Smith, Dr. Matt Brown, Dr. Harry Nolan, Dr. George Sheehan, Paul Richard, George Kochman and Dr, Phil Shinnick, and Jersey Shore Running Club’s Mary Conry.
Born as the Bob Roggy Memorial Meet in 1987 – a year after the Holmdel High School, Southern Illinois University and Shore AC javelin superstar, NCAA and USA national champion and world number-one-ranked spearman died after a tragic accident at the US Olympic Sports Festival in Houston – this year’s meet honored Elliott Denman.
West Long Branch resident Denman has worn many hats in his long career in sports - USA Olympic 50K racewalker (1956), Asbury Park Press sports columnist
and Olympic writer (1964-99), three-time New Jersey sportswriter of the year, past president of the Track and Field Writers of America (1996-98), first varsity track coach at Monmouth University/ then College (1966-68), international racewalking judge (1980-2010), high school, collegiate and USATF official, USA international team leader, and a founding father of the “new” Shore Athletic Club (1964.) Father of three and grandfather of eight, he and the former Jo Denman, originally of Sheringham, England, have been wed for over 60 years.
“We beat very-very-very long odds in finding each other,” said Denman.
This meet will now go high on his list, too.
“Wow! amazing! how it all happened, and all thanks go to my Shore AC teammates. And our many-many-many sponsors. And Monmouth University. And Maurice Bell and Viper Timing. Everything was 100 percent.
“They (an organizing committee led by Joe Compagni, Dave Friedman and Erin O’Neill, assisted by Shore AC president Walter MacGowan, former Shore AC intern Dayna Luma, and a whole lot of others) got it all done, and I will always remember this day and be thankful to them.
“We even had a Community Mile (in which entrants could “run it. jog it, walk it or stroll it”) which had nearly 100 doing their four laps, in a benefit for two excellent charities, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and Shore AC’s own Development Fund, supporting the club’s year-round programs for athletes of all ages, all events, and all divisions.”
Leading these Community Milers was U.S. Marine Corps first lieutenant Greg Nelson, who came up from Fort Lejeune, N.C. . to support the event….and led it in 5 minutes and 50 seconds.
“And even The Person Above cooperated,” summed-up Denman.” We had perfect weather, too.”