SOUTH PLAINFIELD — Lauren Princz capped her standout high school track and field career in the best way possible Saturday.
The Egg Harbor Township senior won her second Meet of Champions title in the 200-meter dash at Frank Jost Field. She finished in 24.22, the best time in the state this season, according to the MileSplit track and field website.
Southern Regional sophomore Fabian Gonzalez won the discus with a toss of 184 feet, 9 inches. His toss was more than 4 feet farther than the second-place throw of 180-01. Holy Spirit senior Julia Bannan won the girls discus with a 129-foot throw. EHT senior Mariah Stephens won the girls triple jump (37-10.25).
The top-eight finishers in each event earned medals. The meet was not over at press time Saturday night.
“He was amazing,” Southern coach Scott Baker said of Gonzalez. “I think almost all of his throws (in the trails) would have won (Gonzalez only had one throw under 182 feet). There are bigger things ahead for him. He is only a sophomore. Watching him will be a lot of fun.”
As Princz crossed the finish line, she lifted her arm high in the air and let out a smile. Princz then embraced the girls against whom she had competed, hugging them and showing sportsmanship.
“It wasn’t a huge bang,” Princz said on whether or not she ended on a high note. “But it was a bang. I’m glad, and I’m blessed. I want to congratulate all the girls who did well (Saturday). All the seniors, and hope they do well in college.”
Princz finished second in the 100 dash in a personal-best 11.66. Jada Ellis of Manchester Township won in 11.57. After that race, the EHT senior said she could’ve run better.
“But you have to do what you have to do,” Princz said. “(The) 200 is my race. Let’s do that.”
The NCAA Division I Penn State University commit called it.
“Yeah, the 200 has been my race since eighth grade, and coming in as a freshman and winning,” said Princz, who also won the outdoor Meet of Champions in the 200 in 2018. “Even though I lost my 100 (Saturday after winning in the preliminaries), the 200 is my race, and I knew it.
“I had to get that through my head. I had to run my heart out.”
Princz also won an indoor MOC title.
Princz won the 100 and 200 dash at the state and sectional meets and Atlantic County Championships this season. She is one of the most decorated and talented track athletes in Cape-Atlantic League history.
Her personal-best in the 200 is 23.90.
“She did amazing and definitely left a mark (on EHT),” Eagles coach Erika Vazquez said. “We are very proud. She went out there and ran great. I think that she is pretty happy. She PR’d in the 100, even though she came in second. She is extremely happy about that, and winning the 200.
“We are definitely proud of her. She has left her mark on New Jersey tack, and we can’t wait to see what she is going to do next year at Penn State.”
EHT will miss Princz’s presence greatly, Vazquez said.
“Not just on the track, she is a great, well-rounded woman,” Vazquez said. “She is one of our captains, and she brings a lot to the team. It’s been an honor to be her coach over the last four years.”
Princz is looking forward to continuing setting records and collecting accolades in college.
“I’m excited to get to the top-tier, with a top-tier coach (Penn State’s John Gondak) and a top-tier program,” Princz said. “I know I can run faster. ... I’m happy. I’ll miss New Jersey. I’ll miss EHT. I’ll miss my coaches, my track friends, my teammates and everyone who supported me. That’s all I have to say. Lauren Princz out.”
Absegami senior Diamond McLaughlin finished second in the girls 400 hurdles in a personal-best 1:00.40. Adelaide Asante of North Brunswick placed first (1:00.24). Also earning medals were Middle Township junior Keira Phillips (fifth in 1:03.63) and EHT senior Anne Rutledge (eighth in 1:04.23).
McLaughlin won the state and South Jersey Group III titles in the 400 hurdles. The 18-year-old Galloway Township resident was the top seed entering the event Saturday.
“I love it,” said McLaughlin, who is committed to run track at NCAA Division I St. Peter’s University. “I came in No. 1, and it was a tight race, but I came in good .It was a good race. It was extremely close. It was tight.”
Southern senior Jackson Braddock placed second in the 3,200 in 9:04.47. Jackson Barna of Ridge won (8.52:00).
Braddock won both the state and sectional titles in the 3,200, setting meet records in both and finishing in a personal-best 8:48.64 last week. He is committed to NCAA Division I University of Virginia.
Braddock, one of the top distance runners in the state, was in the lead until the last two laps Saturday. He said he was “a little greedy” Saturday, going for the time rather than focusing on “a great runner like Jackson Barna on your back.”
“It wasn’t a bad season. Coming up to this it was a good season,” Braddock said. “But when you can’t finish with a win, it’s not ideal. I learned my lesson (Saturday). I obviously wanted to end on a high, but that’s not always possible. I’m happy with what I got out of it. I learned a lot, especially this season, to be a better runner and better racer.
“I can take a lot out of this.”
Egg Harbor Township senior Ahmad Brock finished third in the boys triple jump with a leap of 44 feet, 6.50 inches. Millville junior Leah Ellis placed fourth in the girls long jump (17-08). Ellis also finished seventh in the girls 100 hurdles (14.86). EHT’s Mariah Stephens was eighth (15.12).
Hammonton junior Austin Hudak finished fourth in the boys javelin (175-9). Ocean City senior Brad Jamison placed sixth (175-6). Millville junior Leah Ellis placed eighth in the girls triple jump (36-3).
Holy Spirit junior Elijah Steward was fourth in the boys long jump (22-4.25). Cedar Creek junior JoJo Bermudez was seventh (22-2.50).
Ocean City’s Tyler Greene, Owen Ritti, Brendan Schlatter and Drew Tarr placed fourth in the boys 4x800 relay (7:57.72). Southern’s Michael Chanda, Jake Harrison, Andrew Bowker and Timothy Sincavage were fifth (7:58.94).
ACIT junior Tey’ana Ames was sixth in the girls shot put (38-08). EHT’s Anne Rutledge placed seventh in the girls 400 dash (57.66). Teammate Michaela Pomatto was seventh in the girls discus (121-4). Southern senior Angel Santiago placed seventh in the boys pole vault (13-00). Barnegat junior Madison Cappuccio was eighth in the girls high jump (5-04).
Contact Patrick Mulranen: 609-272-7217