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Matawan boys show depth in winning relay meet titles

first_imgDiscus-thrower Hodge headed to Penn Relays Matawan Matawan High School seniors Dylan Spadaccini andAndre Hodge were eagerly awaiting word this week to see if they qualified for the Penn Relays (April 28-30). They would learn that only one would make it.Spadaccini is the odds-on favorite to win the pole vault outdoors after winning it in the NJSIAA indoors Meet of Champions. Hodge lodged a solid bid in the discus when he threw 167-7, the second farthest in school history, though short of the standard held by Tyrone Garland, in a dual meet on April 6. He also this season has thrown the shot put 52-10, just a couple of inches shy of his personal best last season.“They’re pretty selective, so you don’t know. They only pick what they think is the best,” coach Sam Turner said of qualifying for the Penn Relays.“Just to go, to be accepted, is an honor,” said Spadaccini, who has been recruited strongly of late by East Carolina along with Rhode Island, Rider, Monmouth and East Stroudsburg University continuing their big push.But Turner was shocked late on March 11 when he opened up the website to learn that Hodge became the fourth Penn Relays individual qualifier in school history, and first in the discus. Garland was a two-time qualifier in the shot put. Spadaccini had hoped to join former Matawan polevaulter Tim Evans, who qualified for Penns in 1994.“This is incredible,” said Turner. “Two kids he beat in the Meet of Champions [indoors] made it and he didn’t. I’m stunned. I don’t know what to say. We can put in an appeal, but rarely does anything come out of it. I’m happy for Hodge, but I really had no doubt that Spadaccini had the numbers to get in.”Instead, Hodge will begin pointing toward thePenn Relays in two weeks and Spadaccini will look farther down the road to getting back in the MOC outdoors.Spadaccini played an integral role with sophomore Justin Love in sparking the Huskies to winning the small schools division in the HuskiesInvitational Relays on April 9, and he also helped them win the season-opening Rocket Relays atRaritan High two weekends ago. Love is part of a young lineup that Turner said will figure in the team’s bid to excel in the NJSIAA meets. They hope to crank it up again in the Holmdel Relays on April 16.Turner sounded encouraged when talking about his team.“I am,” Turner said. “I think we have a lot of potential to be pretty good. We’re coming along. I thought we did well in ourmeet. We’re young and inexperienced but we got a lot of great performances.”“Actually, I’m very impressed with these guys,” said Spadaccini. “The young kids are stepping up to a high potential.” And he said he is learning to deal with the pressure that comes with high expectations of him in the pole vault. “There’s definitely a lot of pressure on me now,” Spadaccini said. “I know what I can do. They expect me to be a good competitor.”Although he reached 13-6 in the pole vault in Matawan, Spadaccini felt he “did not have too much of a good day, but I got the job done.”Unlike the end of indoor season, when he only had to concentrate on the pole vault, Spadaccini has had to tap into his versatility in the 3×400 intermediate hurdles with Solomon Simpkins and John Alston and with both teammates and Love in the shuttle hurdles. He also runs in the sprint medley with Love, freshman Berend Malin and senior Albert Masonius.The thing I like is how three of our relays have dropped times,” said Turner, referring to the sprint medley, 4×800 and distance medley. Dan Wills, a freshman, runs leadoff in the 4×800 and distance medley and is joined in the 4×800 by Malin and juniors Hakan Yuksul and Evan Mandragona. The DM includes senior Steve Caldwell, Yuksul and Masonius.Love and junior Connor Nappi, in his first year on the team, have performed well in the long jump relay. They were second in the Matawan meet with a combined jump of 76-0. Alston and Simpkins have done well in the long jump relay and were second inMatawan.That depth will be needed next month in the big weekend meets. BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent last_img

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