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Vol. LXII, No. 16
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
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Featuring Balance Through its Lineup, PHS Boys’ Track Strong in Tri-Meets

Bill Alden

It was a rare happening for the Princeton High boys’ track team.

Last week, PHS swept Hamilton and Steinert in a tri-meet as it improved to 3-0 on the season.

In assessing the double win, Little Tiger head coach John Woodside saw the performance as a breakthrough.

“That was absolutely a step forward,” said Woodside. “I don’t know how often we’ve gotten two wins in a dual meet, we usually split. We have balance, that’s what makes this team different.”

In Woodside’s view, the team’s depth should make it a force in dual meets throughout the spring.

“We have coverage in the events like we’ve never had before,” asserted Woodside. “It keeps us from getting blown out and we can dominate events, we had a sweep in the discus and the 3,200.”

The team’s strength in the throwing events epitomizes PHS’ resources.

“It’s unusual for us to have this many good throwers,” said Woodside, whose corps of throwers includes senior John McCormack and juniors A.J. Dowers and Connor Ryan.

“We’ve had a good javelin guy, a good shot putter, or a good discus at one time but not the number of good throwers like we have this year.”

Woodside points to McCormack as PHS’ best hope to win individual titles.

“John McCormack is our biggest star, said Woodside. “He is one of the top javelin throwers in the area, he’s very good in the discus, and he will score points for us in the shot in most meets. He is going to go far in the championship meets.”

The team’s group of distance runners should come a long way this spring. “They are coming along, not as dominant as in the past but we have four or five guys who are improving by the week,” said Woodside, whose distance runners include juniors Aaron Deutsch and Chris Vasseur, seniors Dylan Kotliar and Sean Pradhan, and sophomore Henry Feder. “We are strong against most teams even if we can’t hang with WW/P-S or WW/P-N.”

With the emergence of senior Rashad Bullock, PHS can hang with most teams in the sprints. “Bullock is really enthusiastic, he’s really stepping up,” said Woodside, whose team did take a hit when sprinting star Tom Hellstern pulled a hamstring in the tri-meet last week. “He did an 11.2 in the 100 and a 22.6 in the 200 in the meet last week.”

The injury to Hellstern means that sophomore Josh Gordon will need to speed up his development. “Josh Gordon is really coming on, he did a 23.2 200 in the Hamilton/Steinert meet,” said Woodside. “He did 39’8 in the triple jump. We just taught him the event last week and he came close to the school record (40’ 3). He had the best split in the 4 x 400 relay, running 53.2 on the third leg. We are going to need him to step into the 100 and 200 with Tommy out.”

The return of junior Senyo Agawu should help Princeton in the sprints and the jumping events.

“Senyo is working really hard, he missed some time earlier,” said Woodside of Agawu, who won the 400 and placed third in the triple jump in the Hamilton/Steinert meet.

“He’s back after being gone a year. He’s very talented, very tough. He’s a good competitor. He really fought to win that 400, that was one of the great wins for us in that meet. I was a little surprised. He also had a good jump in the triple jump.”

Woodside, for his part, is looking forward to helping his athletes continue to jump forward.

“We only have three seniors so we still have lot of developing to do,” said Woodside, whose team will compete in the County Relays on April 19 at Steinert before hosting a tri-meet with Hopewell Valley and Notre Dame on April 22.

“The kids should be getting better and stronger. We are built for dual meets, it’s probably the most balanced team I’ve had. I love this team, their spirit is great.”

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