Gess wins at Meet of Champs

Briana Gess runs to a state title in the 1,600 meters: "The last 200 [meters], it was like I wasn't even running.It hurt so bad."
Briana Gess runs to a state title in the 1,600 meters: "The last 200 [meters], it was like I wasn't even running.It hurt so bad." (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 06, 2014

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - Briana Gess has won plenty of races in her brief but brilliant career.

This was different.

Haddonfield's freshman phenom was in a strange state of body and mind at the end of the 1,600 meters Wednesday at the state track and field Meet of Champions.

"When it was over, I was like, 'Oh my God, I left everything on that track,' " Gess said after winning the race in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 45.97 seconds. "I never felt like that before at the end of a race.

"The last 200 [meters], it was like I wasn't even running. It hurt so bad."

Gess' performance was among the highlights of the last and most prestigious meet of the season. The event brought together the top six place-winners from each of last weekend's state championship meets.

Oakcrest senior Ishmael Muhammad set a meet record in winning the 800 in a blistering time of 1:48.52.

The old mark of 1:48.66 was set in 2009 by Manalapan's Robbie Andrews, who went on to win the NCAA 800 title for Virginia.

"To beat a time by somebody like Robbie Andrews, it's magical," said Muhammad, a Villanova recruit. "I wanted to go sub-1:50. To run this time in my last high school race, it's icing on the cake."

Timber Creek senior Jamaad Muse, a Houston recruit, won the 400 in 47.07 and also was the anchor on the Chargers' 4x100 relay team that set a meet record with a winning time of 41.45 seconds.

Winslow Township senior Torie Robinson, a Clemson recruit, won the 100 in 11.73 seconds, and West Deptford senior Nick Pulli, a Maryland recruit, won the discus in 174 feet, 5 inches.

"This is how I wanted to finish," Robinson said. "I love to sprint."

Paramus Catholic senior Jabrill Peppers, a Michigan football recruit, won the 100 (10.68) and 200 (21.13) and fought off strong competition from South Jersey athletes in both events.

In the 100, St. Joseph junior Rocco Ordille took third (10.71), Haddon Heights senior Kashif Miller took fourth (10.81), Timber Creek senior Adonis Jennings took fifth (10.88), and Sterling junior Davon Tucker took sixth (10.92) in a race in which all eight runners ran faster than 11 seconds.

In the 200, Miller took third (21.73), Muse finished fourth (21.78), Woodrow Wilson junior Nigel Sánchez was fifth (21.85), and Paul VI sophomore Stefone Moore-Green took sixth (21.85).

The 41.45-second finish of Timber Creek's 4x100 relay team of Muse, Jennings, Kareem Ali, and Kevin Hagamin surpassed the previous meet record of 41.50, set last year by Timber Creek.

"It's the last year we'll be running together," said Ali, the only junior on a team with three seniors. "I'm more than satisfied."

Gess, who won the Meet of Champions in cross-country in the fall, said she was pointing toward this race since the beginning of the track season.

"It's my favorite race," Gess said. "I knew I would have people to race. I knew it would be good competition."

Gess made her move with a little more than 300 meters to go. She said that wasn't strategy as much as serendipity.

"My team was right there," Gess said of her Haddonfield teammates. "They were yelling at me, jumping on the fence. I was dying, but I said: 'I might as well go for it.' "

Gess surged past Tenafly senior Josette Norris, a North Carolina recruit and last year's winner in the event, and held the lead down the stretch.

"I'm so happy," Gess said.


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