By Christopher Hunt
Morristown sophomore Nick Vena launched a shot put 67 feet to win at the NJ Varsity Classic, just an inch off the best throw ever at the New Balance Track and Field Center and afterward he simply shrugged his shoulders.
Now Vena isn’t much for showing emotion at track meets but more than anything, he’s just ready to move on. Vena has thrown over 67 feet six times this season, including when he broke the sophomore national record of 68-8.25 at the Passarelli Invitational in December. It’s nice to be consistent but there’s also nothing wrong with wanting more.
“It’d be nice to get a 68 out there,” Vena said. “I’d like that.”
It’s not that Vena’s frustrated. He’s not. But the reason throwers have more than one attempt is to try to throw further than they did the last time. Either way, Vena enjoyed an impressive performance where he barely missed the Armory fieldhouse record of 67-1 set by Kevin DiGiorgio of Bayonne (N.J.) in 1998. Vena shrugged at that one too.
“I just wanted to PR for myself,” he said.
Away from the thrower’s cage, Harrison senior Claudio Delli Carpini turned in a stellar show. He won the long jump in 23-1.50 and before that he won the 55 hurdles in 7.2. He ran 7.3 in the prelims and 7.2 in the semi-final. But even while managing his personal best time, he still lagged out the start.
“(Trenton Central’s Rolston) Braithwaite beat me to the first hurdle in the semi’s and he beat me to the first hurdle in the final,” Delli Carpini said. “But when I needed to race, I raced.”
He started gaining ground after the second hurdle and out-leaned Braithwaite at the tape. Braithwaite, who will attend the University of Texas, was credited with an identical time of 7.2.
“It felt fast,” Delli Carpini said. “To be consistently around 7.2 for three races just really tells me what kind of shape I’m in right now. I mean, I hit a couple hurdles but I was telling myself to just race. I’m not saying it was a clean race but it’s 7.2. I’ve never won a big one before so I’m proud of myself.”
Janice Jackson of Medgar Evers won the girls 55 hurdles in 7.7. She ran 7.6 in the semi-final which is the fastest time in the country this season.
“She came into the race intent on recapturing her national lead,” said James Phipps, Jackson’s hurdle coach. “She felt her strongest in the semi’s and decided to give it her all then, because her main competition was the clock.”
Jackson signed a letter of intent Friday to compete at the University of Clemson next year.
“She promised her Clemson coach and me that she’s finish the season as the nation’s top 55 hurdler. She also made a promise to her mom. She set that goal and so far she’s achieving it.”
Morris Hills won the boys distance medley relay in 10:18.0 with a squad of Liam Tansey (3:04.8), Lucas Clyne (52.2), Vinny Chiusano (1:58.1) and Sean Pohorence (4:23.1).
“Our goal was to get the US #1,” Pohorence said. “We kind of put it on Liam to get us a lead but then it’s a little harder to run out there by yourself.”
Morris Hills’ time is the second-fastest in the country this season. Morris Hills competed in its sectional championship Saturday and Tansey said the squad was still recovering but a solid distance medley relay time could secure a spot in the race at Penn Relays in April. Voorhees with Colette Whitney (3:47.8), Katie Petruzzellis (62.2), Kari Shoolberaid (2:18.4) and Melanie Thompson (4:58.1) won the girls distance medley relay in 12:05.9, the third-fastest time in the country this season.
Dana Walsh of Convent for the Sacred Heart said her win in the girls 800 was more of a simulated workout. Walsh wanted to hold an even pace early but admitted getting too relaxed for the first half.
“I wanted to take it out really slow,” Walsh said. “I was thinking I’d run 34’s. But after the first two laps I thought it was feeling a little too much like a workout and I knew I needed to start picking it up.”
Walsh won the race in 2:16.5. Jon Jackson of Union won the boys 800 in 1:57.5. Penn Wood’s Brittany Wallace won the girls 200 in 24.7 and the 400 in 56.4. Suffern’s Janelle Clayton also won the high jump in 5-7, which ties the best jump in the state this season with Sarah Palmer of Schuylerville.
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.