THE ANNUAL USA TRACK AND FIELD INDOOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS -
A MEET NOT HELD IN 2021 DUE TO THE PANDEMIC AND LAST STAGED AT
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO IN 2020 - RETURNED TO THE SCHEDULE
AND PRODUCED AN ARRAY OF SPARKLING PERFORMANCES,
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26-27, 2022 AT THE
BRAND-NEW PODIUM FACILITY IN SPOKANE, WASHINGTON.
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
We are delighted to report that distinguished Shore AC Alumna Ms. Ajee' Wilson and Shore AC Varsity Team Member Mr. Josh Awotunde were at the top of their game and with brilliant efforts in the nationally televised meet clinched berths on the USA National Team headed for the upcoming (March 18-19-20) World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
Neptune's Ms. Wilson was sensational again in her signature event, the 800 meters, and, controlling the pace from the 200-meter mark onward, raced to a decisive win in 2:01.72.
Another New Jerseyan, Olivia Baker, the former Columbia HS and Stanford star, placed 2nd in 2:02.14 and will thus make the Worlds team in Belgrade, too.
For Ms. Wilson, it was her eighth USA National Indoor crown amassed over the years, and 12th National crown all-time, indoors and outdoors. Not since being tripped up in the 600 final and winding up 6th at Boston in 2015, has she done anything but win at Indoor Nationals. Her roll call of previous Indoor National golds Albuquerque in 2013-14, Portland in
2016, Albuquerque in 2017-18, Staten Island in 2019, and Albuquerque once more in 2020.
Shore AC shot put star Josh Awotunde - the Delsea High School and University of South Carlina graduate who until a week ago had the world's longest toss this winter - was also at the top of his game and reached another seasonal best with a mighty effort of 71-4, good for
second place. At his best, too, though, was Olympic champion and world record-holder Ryan Crouser, who won with a 73-10 1/4 performance.
Bound for Belgrade, too, will be Josette Norris, the Tenafly High School and Georgetown
University graduate, whose blazing finish carried her to a photo-finish second in the women's 3,000-meter final. The top three in this exciting event were separated by the slimmest of
margins, with Heather MacLean first over the line in 4:06.09 to Norris's 4:06.13, with Elle Purrier St. Pierre third at 4:06.14. In December, Norris will also be bound for the altar - to wed Shore AC and Manalapan stalwart Robby Andrews, the 2016 Olympian and 2017 Naitonal 1500 champion.
Shore AC's Amina Smith - now serving as head jumps coach at her alma mater, the Univerity of Maryland - reached her season best height of 6 feet and 3/4 of an inch for sixth place in the women's high jump.
Two-time USA Olympian Rudy Winkler, the former Cornell and Rutgers star, placed third in the men's 35-pound weight throw at 78-0. Sixth in the women's 20-pound weight throw with a career-best toss of 73-9, was Alyssa Wilson, the former Donovan Catholic High School and UCLA star now finishing her collegiate career at Texas State University.
It was a tough Indoor Nationals, however, for Shore AC pole vault star Scott Houston, a past USA champion, who missed his three attempts at opening height of 18-1.