Sean Dolan had the kind of day everyone expected at the Group 3 state track and field championships.
Chukuwka Obidike had a better day than anyone had expected.
In the end, the performances by the two Hopewell Valley Central High School seniors were more than good enough to join their teammate, Will Titus, in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions this Saturday at Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus.
“The guys were firing on all cylinders, so it was really exciting to see,” Hopewell Valley coach Aaron Oldfield reported.
Dolan was his usual dominant self at the Group 3 meet, which was held last weekend at Central Regional High School in Bayville. He won the 800 meters in 1:50.53, which was nearly three seconds ahead of Joe DeVito of Jackson Liberty. Dolan also finished first in the 1,600 meters in 4:10.76.
“That was kind of a typical Sean workmanlike day,” Oldfield said. “To say we kind of expected that at the state championship would be a little unfair to him. But in the same breath he is in a class all by himself. He has been the state champion in the 800 going back to his sophomore year.
“The only race he has really lost in the spring to a New Jersey kid was last year coming back from Seattle less than 24 hours after he had run the Brooks Invitational. He ran in Seattle on the Friday and then he ran Saturday afternoon at the Meet of Champions. He’s a pretty special kid.”
While the Villanova-bound Dolan came away with a pair of state group titles, Obidike also was a winner at the Group 3 meet. The senior was first in the shot put with an effort of 54-feet, 1.5-inches. He was also fifth in the discus.
“He did a great job,” Oldfield said. “He was fifth in the discus and won the shot put. That was really nice. He had a PR in the shot and comes out of there as a state champion. So it was not a bad weekend at all. We were thinking he could score some points and advance to the Meet of Champions. But winning was a very pleasant surprise.
“He has been PRing the last couple of weeks. He’s working on his technique with his back foot and really trying to drive that back foot and not let it just fly out. He’s been a little bit more disciplined with his technique and it is starting to show.”
Titus advanced to the Meet of Champions by finishing third in the 800 meters. He and John O’Connor both nearly advanced in the 1,600 meters.
“They were the first two non-wild cards in the 1,600,” Oldfield explained. “We were a little upset after they ran on Fridaty. But Will was able to come back the next day and solidify a spot by finishing third in the 800.”
On the girls’ side, freshman Milan Couillens and senior Ava Tillman competed in the 400 intermediate hurdles and Lillian Wurtz competed in the javelin.
“Our 4x800 relays our leadoff runner had a reoccurring hip injury and had to drop out so the other three girls didn’t get a chance to compete,” Oldfield said. “In the intermediate hurdles, one is a senior and one is a freshman. They got some valuable experience. Ava will continue running for her club this summer and then run next year at Amherst. So that’s valuable experience. And Milan is only a freshman so the future looks very bright for her as well. She hadn’t run winter track so hopefully next year she will be a little stronger coming off the indoor season. We’re pretty excited for her.”