When Rahway junior Jordan West releases the disc he lets out a grunt that can be heard from 50 yards away and when he shakes your hand you feel the death grip that allows him to launch the disc as if it is a Frisbee.
On Saturday, West used that monster-grip to launch the disc that earned him a first-place mark of 181-08 giving him his second NJSIAA Group III state title at Northern Burlington High School.
“Hard work pays off, it wasn’t the best day today but I’ll take it any day,” said West. “It starts in the summer, conditioning, weight room every day, taking no breaks.”
If West believes Saturday wasn’t his best day, it’s because it wasn’t. As one of the best throwers in the state he reached a personal best with a mark of 188.10 this past April in Westfield and believe it or not West thinks he could beat that remarkable throw with a 190.
The determined West will have an opportunity to try and reach that distance on Wednesday at the Meet of Champs where he will be participating in the discus and the shot put thanks to a 62-6.5 heave on Friday that earned him a gold medal.
With a relentless work-ethic and a great throwing coach who knows exactly what buttons to push all eyes will be on West when he enters the circle on Wednesday.
“I think it’s the fact that he works extra hard, he thinks about track seven days a week, he can be at school and be spinning in the hallways,” said Rahway throwing coach Lashelle Bunion. “He’s always focused on perfecting his craft.”
Bunion is an experienced thrower herself as she Is an alumni of Rahway High School and the American International College in Massachusetts where she threw the discus, hammer and shot put.
The combination of an experienced coach, as well as West who is so eager to be great, produces a perfect duo that has allowed the Indians to thrive this year. As a former athlete Bunion knows that keeping a good mentality and a good technique is perhaps the most crucial aspect when it comes to throwing.
“His body already knows what to do, it’s the mind that might distract him, I try to keep it level so that he can concentrate,” she said. “I try to motivate him more, I tell him to worry about the technique and not the distance. I try to keep them calm but I can be nervous and they won’t know.”
West already has a plethora of schools that want him to commit but the junior is keeping his options open for now. A win at the Meet of Champions on Wednesday will only make the coveted West that much more desirable but for now West isn’t looking that far into the future.
“Going to take a day off (on Sunday), hopefully come back on Monday train well, train good Tuesday and Wednesday comeback and hopefully do good,” said West.
Toney makes history for Wardlaw-Hartridge
Wardlaw-Hartridge senior Noah Toney was able to capture two NJSIAA Non-Public B state titles at Northern Burlington High School this weekend.
With a blistering time of 49.37 in the 400 meter dash on Friday and a time of 1:55.92 in the 800 on Saturday, the two gold medals made Toney the only Ram in school history to win two state titles in the same year.
“Freshman year I never thought I would have been even close to here, it’s really all thanks to my teammates and my coaches they really pushed me to be here, I wouldn’t be able to do that without them,” Toney said.
The University of Virginia commit gives praise to his coach and longtime mentor Jamaal Burden, who he says is “like an uncle to him.”
“I’ve watched him grow from a fifth grader to the young adult he is now,” Burden said. “Even when he was younger, he ran in middle school and was really good then. He’s a sleeper but he is starting to blossom.”
Toney blossomed at the perfect time as he will be able to continue his successful year on Wednesday at the Meet of Champions where he will again compete in the 400 and 800.
Wardlaw-Hartridge senior Diogo Ferreria will also be competing in the 400 and 800 in the Meet of Champs as he earned a bronze medal in the 400 on Friday with a time of 50.87 and finished right behind Toney on Saturday in the 800 with a time of 1:57.27.
Running in the same races all season long has helped the two teammates and friends build a competitive relationship that helps them push the limit.
“We realized that if we were together we could do great things here,” Ferreria said. “That’s when we started practicing with one another, pushing one another at practice, working together in meets like today and our times just began to drop.”
The camaraderie between the coach and the two student athletes is a recipe for success that Burden believes can carry over to Wednesday.
“I think both can be major contenders. I think they are going to be very competitive in the Meet of Champs,” Burden said.
Ferreira and Toney also participated in the 4×400 relay, where the Rams took home another gold medal with senior Nathaniel Nyema and sophomore Kevin Nader.
Ferreria ran the first leg in a team-best 50.8, followed by Nyem who finished in 53.06. In the third leg Nader clocked out at 52.6 and Toney sealed the deal as anchor with an individual split at 51.32. Together the Rams earned gold with a combined time of 3:29.10.
With performances like that it is no surprise the Rams were able to finish second in the overall team scoring with 48 points.
Timothy Christian takes third in Non-Public B
If you had the small school of Timothy Christian as your sleeper pick before the weekend began, then you were right. Timothy Christian racked up 42 points on its way to a third place finish in the Non-Public B Group Finals.
On Friday, senior Matt Parris take home a gold medal as he finished the 100 dash with a time of 11.30. Michael Oduro won two silver medals over the weekend with a second place finish in the long jump with a leap of 21-2 on Friday and a mark of 42-07 in the triple jump on Saturday.
Matt Farrias contributed to the showcase as he earned silver in the 200 dash with a time of 23.25.