EHT boys track halts Oakcrest’s 48-meet CAL winning streak
Heading into this spring, the last time Egg Harbor Township's boys track team beat rival Oakcrest in a dual meet current seniors were in seventh grade. Every other Cape-Atlantic League team had similar results against the Falcons, as Oakcrest built up a 48-meet league winning streak since a loss to EHT in 2010.
The Eagles threw that monkey off their back with authority on Wednesday afternoon, beating Oakcrest 93-47 to end the Falcons' winning streak.
Egg Harbor Township got four wins from Amir Brock — three individually and one relay — and two key wins from senior Ryan Felker to improve to 6-0. In all, the Eagles took home first place in 12 of the 16 events.
"It's a big meet. They had a 48-meet win streak, so we haven't beaten them in a while. It was a big meet to prepare for. We pride ourselves on the work we put in, so it came out as we expected and hoped. It was quite a blowout, and we were a little surprised, but we expected (to win) because of how much work we put in. We also did some research before, where we would have different scenarios; we would have a mock meet and see how the scores would come out, and it came out as we predicted," said junior thrower Brandon Truong, who wasn't able to compete because of an elbow injury that may end his season. "Now that we have Oakcrest checked off, we're looking to go undefeated (in the CAL) this year. It's not that hard to take in because we've been working hard and we expected to win."
Head coach Ryan Smith said if things broke the right way he had confidence the Eagles could win, but he knows from experience that things can sometimes go wrong, especially when EHT faces Oakcrest.
"For six years, they beat us. We had a couple scenarios that had them winning if a lot of things went wrong for us — which they have in the past. We won the sectional title in 2013 and they beat us in the regular season that year, so we've had a lot of crazy dual meets (against Oakcrest)," Smith said. "This year, we came out and each kid fought for that extra spot, and it came out in our favor."
Brock won the 100, 200 and 400, and also was a part of the winning 4x400-meter relay team, albeit in a different position. He normally is the anchor leg, but Smith decided to have him lead off and switch Alex Dessoye to the back. He said he didn't want Brock to have to sit around for a while before running again after running three earlier races. The strategy paid off, as the team of Brock, Robert Dessoye, Aidin Hendriks and Alex Dessoye won in 3:32.9.
"We had Alex Dessoye anchor the 4x400-meter relay, and he passed the finish line and put up a big fist pump and yelled. It was kind of a sign of relief," Smith said.
"It was great. We haven't beaten Oakcrest in six years," Robert Dessoye said. "Before the meet we went through all the scenarios. We thought we would win, but not by that much. It was amazing. We were all shocked, then we all celebrated with Smitty, gave him the Gatorade shower."
"It was a huge win. After losing last year, that was hard, so it was great to finally beat them. It was good that we were able to beat them, and by that margin, too. I think it sends a message," Alex Dessoye said. "It's been a while since anyone has beaten them, and we're happy we were able to be the guys to do that. We all just work hard, and it's worth it."
Felker came through with two key victories. He bested Jayden Britt on his final leap in the long jump, and also was able to score an upset over Oliver Paul in the 110-meter hurdles.
"Felker is another four-event guy. He didn't win four events today, but he won two crucial ones. He and Jayden Britt, who is a really good jumper for them, Britt was at 20-4 1/2 and Ryan was at 20-4 going into the last jump. Because we were home, Ryan had the last jump and he jumped 20-9 on his last jump, which was awesome," Smith said. "And in the 110 hurdles, their kid, Oliver Paul, is ranked very high in the 400 hurdles but also high in the 110, Ryan upset him. So that was two big wins for him."
EHT also got a pair of wins from Eric Barnes, in the 800 and 1,600 meters, and swept all three top spots in the discus, led by Mubarek Momodu's toss of 158-8. Darren Wan won the shot put, Trevor Kopp the pole vault, and Aditya Joshi the 3,200. Oakcrest got wins from Paul in the 400 hurdles and triple jump, Britt in the high jump and Terrence Smith in the javelin.
"The boys are pumped. We didn't make it a big deal this year. Year in and year out, before the Oakcrest meet, we bring the kids together and have a big rah-rah team meeting. But this year we took a different approach, just business as usual," Smith said. "But their reaction was awesome. They knew what they had to do in certain events. They didn't have to PR or run their best even ever, but they had to win, and they did that."
Smith said the rest of the team has been feeding off the success of the relay squad, and he believes this win over Oakcrest will only serve to raise that confidence the rest of the season.
"That 4x4 team, they are confident in themselves, but they are still hungry," Smith said. "And this shows to the rest of the team, beating Oakrest — especially to the older kids who have seen us lose year in and year out to them — hopefully it gives them a nice little boost going forward throughout the season."
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays