Egg Harbor Township High School sprinter and hurdler Anthony Vazquez achieved his greatest indoor victories to date this past winter.
And coaches at Syracuse University noticed.
The New York school offered the senior a partial athletic scholarship that’s close to a full one to compete in the ACC.
The 17-year-old has yet to visit the school’s campus, but he committed this month and signed a national letter of intent to run for the Orange.
“It’s kind of amazing to me to be going there. It’s a dream come true,” Vazquez said. “It’s a great opportunity, something I always wanted when I was younger. Syracuse has a really good program, and everyone I’ve talked to spoke really highly of it. They said it was a good spot and very prestigious.
“There was not really a need to visit any others. Syracuse was my dream school to go to.”
Vazquez, 6-foot, 155 pounds, was recruited by Syracuse sprints and hurdles assistant coach Reuben McCoy and associate head coach Dave Hegland.
“Coach McCoy told me all about Syracuse, and said they had their eye on me,” Vazquez said. “They told me that if I go there they’ll make me get better from where I’m at now.”
Vazquez won the 55-meter hurdles in 7.45 seconds at the 86th Eastern States Indoor Championships at the Armory in New York City on Feb. 18.
He topped that on March 8 by winning the 55 hurdles in a personal-best 7.31 at the state Meet of Champions at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in New York City.
“Winning at the Meet of Champions was my biggest goal, and having that happen was really great,” Vazquez said. “I had to have the cleanest race, and I had the best race of my life. I crossed the line and waited to see my name (on the scoreboard). Seeing my name (finishing) first was great, and my coaches and family were all cheering for me.”
He plans to major in physical therapy. “I’ll try to stay in the sport and help everybody out,” he said.
Ryan Smith, the Egg Harbor Township boys indoor and outdoor track and field coach, said Vazquez is an awesome talent who works hard to be elite.
“Anthony was only a couple tenths of a second off our (outdoor) 110 hurdles school record, and he was projected to break it,” Smith said. “When they canceled the spring season (on May 4, due to the COVID-19 pandemic), he was sad and called me up and we talked most of the morning. Then the next day, Syracuse offered him the scholarship and things turned around for him.
“My mentor, George Wilkinson (the late former EHT boys track coach), talked about having technique and speed. Anthony is one of the fastest on the team, and he’s dedicated to technique.”
The Syracuse men’s track and field team competes in the tough ACC against such teams as Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia, Louisville, North Carolina, Miami and Notre Dame. The Orange finished 12th out of 15 teams in the 2019 ACC outdoor championships and 14th in this winter’s indoor championships.
Indoors, Vazquez was in the 55 hurdles, 4x400 relay, the high jump, and occasionally the 55 dash, long jump and 200. Outdoors, his events were the 110 hurdles, 4x400, 4x100 and occasionally the 400 hurdles and 4x200.
Besides the 55 hurdles, he set personal bests indoors this winter in the 55 dash (6.70), 400 meters (53.64), high jump (6 feet) and long jump (19-7).
Vazquez said that older brother, Luis, a former EHT track athlete, introduced him to the hurdles.
“The 110 hurdles is my favorite,” Anthony said. “It’s the most technical event that I’m good at. If you don’t come out of the start first, you can come on and hawk somebody down. The adrenaline really flows. The gun goes off and you just blink and you’re at the end already.”