The end of the 2023 Track season
The track season ended not the way that many of us had envisioned, but
was full of many surprises. We had a very tight schedule set up for us that we had mapped out. Wednesday was the State Meet of Champions where we had the 4x800m relay, 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay all qualify. Individually we had Kerry O’Day and Megan Niglio in the 1600m, Kelsey Niglio in the 800m and Kerry O’Day and Maddie Meder in the 3200m. Thursday at Nationals the 4xmile relay team of Megan, Kelsey, Maddie and Kerry looked to have a shot at earning All American honors and also looked to try and break the school record. Friday was graduation. Saturday would see Addie Lore in the freshman javelin and the Sprint Medley Relay team of Veronica Ashcraft, Morgan Shank, Maddie Van Haren and Kelsey Niglio. Then we would finish things up on Sunday with Maddie Meder running in the freshman 800m and then the Distance Medley Relay team of Megan Niglio, Maddie Van Haren, Kelsey Niglio and Kerry O’Day with an outside shot at earning All American honors. It looked to be busy but doable. All of that came to a crash when the State postponed MOC’s and moved them to Thursday. Wednesday after school was very emotional for the team. The girls on the 4xmile were split as it looked like we had a choice to make. Nationals or MOC’s. After a lot of back and forth it was decided that we would stick with MOC’s I didn’t like the idea of splitting the team up and it also gave more of the team an opportunity to race. If we had chose Nationals, it would have taken away all the individual events and we wouldn’t have been able to run the 4x8 or the 4x4. After a night of a lot of tears, the next day we were headed to Franklin HS. Somewhere along the drive, I got a crazy idea of allowing Kerry and Kelsey to run the open races they wanted to and then see if we could make it to Franklin Field in time to race the 4xmile at Nationals. So for my plan to work, I didn’t want to tell the girls that were racing before they raced. I wanted them to focus on the task at hand. I had to confide in one person though. Maddie Meder would have to opt out of running in the 3200m. She would still open the meet with the 4x8. Once we got off the bus and set up our tent, I asked Maddie to come and help me highlight names. Once we were away from the team and on the infield I asked her if that was something she would be willing to do.
I told her I had to first see if we had enough parents there to pull this off, then. I also told her parents to not make the drive to Franklin HS to see the 3200 since she would not be running in it now. So the plan unfolded, The O’Day’s would drive Maddie, Kerry and Megan after they finished running the 1600m. As soon as the 800m ended the Niglio’s would pick up me and Kelsey and see if we could make it to Franklin Field in time. BY now, the meet was set to start off with the 4x800m relay. We were not running our top relay since they were in other events, but we were running the four that earned the right to compete at MOC’s. They were in the 1st heat of two. These four had run together at the Olympic Conference meet 9:52.79 where they won, Sectionals 9:55.20 where they finished 3rd and States 9:57.93 where they finished 7th. Alyssa Suriano was poised with being the lead off leg. She opened up with a lifetime best of 2:23.90. She
handed off to Nicole Edleman who split 2:26.34. Lainy Bromley was next leg who had a lifetime best split of 2:30.61 and then Maddie Meder closed in 2:24.17. They ran an amazing 9:45.01 to place 2nd in the heat. Now we had to wait to see if they would place in the top 8. After the second heat finished, they placed 8th with 9th place just 0.72 seconds behind them. What a huge accomplishment for these girls earning MOC medals.
The 1600m was next with Megan in the 1st heat and Kerry in the second heat. Both finished not happy with what they had just run. Megan ran 5:05.42 to place 9th and Kerry ran 5:07.28 to place 11th. Kerry was actually trying to convince me to let her run the 3200m. I asked them what they thought about trying to make it to Nationals. They were both in. I told them there was the possibility that they would get there and Kelsey wouldn’t get their in time for the relay. The 4xmile was scheduled to start at 7:10. We needed to leave Franklin by 5:00 to even be close. So watching the clock became a little stressful. I didn’t help that MOC’s was running behind the estimated time schedule we came up with. Next up for us was the 4x100m. The team of Katie Zubrzycki, Maddie Van Haren, Veronica Ashcraft and Morgan Shank ran 49.30(#4 AT) which was the second fastest they had run this season. They finished 16th over all.
Now I was waiting for the 800m to start. I had everything set up with the Niglio’s. Mr. Niglio would head to the car and start it and meet us by the exit, Mrs. Niglio would be waiting for us by the tent. Kelsey ran 2:13.42 to place 6th. It was her fastest open 800 of the season. Not what she was hoping for, but to walk away with a medal at MOC’s is a huge accomplishment. We walked over to where her stuff was and I needed to get her back to the tent. It was about 4:40 and we needed to leave. When I told her we needed to get going, she did not believe me. She thought I was joking. She slowly followed me back to the tent looking to the stands for her parents which were not there. So no cool down just grab your stuff and we need to get on the road. It was around 4:48 when we were pulling out. Traffic was heavy and different routes were showing us getting there a little after 7, then slowly started moving to 6:45-50. Still at Franklin HS, the 4x400m relay team now had to rework who was running. Kelsey would have been on the relay as was Kerry. We had already swapped Erin Devaney for Kerry, now Veronica Ashcraft was filling in for Kelsey. Erin, Nicole Edelman, Maddie Van Haren and Veronica ran 4:11.02 to place 22nd. Great job by coach Misuraco and coach McKeaney for taking care of things on that end.
To say the car ride from Franklin HS to Franklin Field was nerve racking is an understatement. All I could do was watch the clock. Watch the red lines show up for traffic and hope that we would get there. It certainly didn’t help that part of 95 was closed due to the recent explosion that took out the bridge. Now that we are all on the road, Kerry is texting me to say that traffic is heavy. I got coach Kuhlow, who was back in Marlton to head over to Philly to pick up the packet so the girls will be ready with their bibs and bands to get in. Watching the live results online I soon found out that they were a little behind schedule. This would be a common theme for the meet. The first group got to Franklin Field about 6:24. They got in met up with coach Kuhlow and everything looked good on their end. We pulled outside of Franklin Field around 6:44. Kelsey and I jumped out of the car and headed into Franklin Field. Little bit of a cool down/warm up for Kelsey and the race went off around 7:22. Megan Niglio led off 5:10.7 which is #6 split AT outdoors. Then it was to Kelsey, Maddie, and then Kerry. The girls ran 21:03.39 to finish 6th and earn All American honors for the second time this year. That time is NJ #2 #2 AT outdoors and #3 in South Jersey history. To say they were excited is an understatement. I couldn’t believe that they pulled off running at both places. Pretty incredible.
Saturday at Nationals had an early morning over to the field area to see freshman Addie Lore compete in her first National meet. She threw a respectable 102-1 to place 10th. I traveled home, picked up coach Misuraco and then headed back for the SMR which was scheduled to run at 8:47. We hadn’t run a loaded SMR all season so I was excited to see what they would pull off. Well, meet delays ensued and they wound up not running until after 10:30. The one good part of that was Mis and I found a great new pizza place. Well the SMR did not disappoint. They won their heat and finished 10th over all. Veronica Ashcraft 27.4, Morgan Shank 26.8, Maddie Van Haren 59.0 and Kelsey Niglio 2:14.78 combined to run 4:08.22. That time is #2 AT outdoors and according to Rueben Frank is the fastest SMR run after 10:00pm in Burlington County history haha.
After getting home very late from the meet, we had a short turn around until going back Sunday. Once again I picked up Mis and we headed over to Philly. Mad props to Mis on securing us a great parking spot after pulling into the lot when asked if we were working, he replied yes we are coaching gave the girl his name knowing full well that it wasn’t on the list she had. After looking through the list, she said “here’s what we are going to do” Next thing I know we are pulling into a spot without a cone and walking into Franklin Field. Sunday started off with freshman Maddie Meder running the freshman 800m. She placed 18th out of the 40+ girls that raced running 2:20.19. I know how badly she wanted to break 2:20, but that is the fastest she has ever run an 800. What a great freshman year for this girl. Excited to see what she will accomplish over the next three years. The DMR was up next. 1 heat in the girls Championship race. The field looked stacked. On paper I thought they were capable of running 12:03. Megan Niglio led off with a blistering 3:37.47 1200m split. That is the fastest 1200 split in school history. She handed off in 7th place. Next up was Maddie Van Haren who split 1:00.07 and basically stayed in the same position to hand off to Kelsey in 7th. Kelsey split 2:13.45 which is the fastest 800m split outdoors in school history. She had moved up two spots to hand off to Ke erry in 5th place. Kerry O’Day anchored in a blistering 5:03.50 whish is #4 split AT outdoors. They ran 11:54.48 destroying the outdoor school record(12:07.43 set last year at the Oregon Relays) and beating the school record set last year at Indoor Nationals of 11:57.91. She moved the team up one spot to finish 4th. That time is NJ#1, US #9, SJ #2 AT and NJ #19 AT. What a way to close out the 2023 season. Two All American relays at outdoor Nationals and a group of girls that just decided to show up and run for each other.