Jayden Phillip is a freshman at East Brunswick High School, while Reyden Davies is a senior.
But they are both experienced boys’ track and field athletes.
Phillip has been running since he was a little kid, making him more seasoned than most freshmen. And Davies is now a fourth-year standout for the Bears.
So both runners were not nervous for the Greater Middlesex Conference championships on May 14 in Old Bridge.
Phillip triumphed in the 100-meter dash and Davies took first place in the 3,200-meter run.
The freshman completely dominated the 100-meter field, crossing in first in the preliminary race, at 11:31, 11 seconds before the second place finisher, and in the final, at 11:29, four seconds ahead of the next fastest runner.
East Brunswick coach Pat DiGioacchino was really impressed with the effort, even though Phillip is more established than other runners his age.
“He’s still running against 11th and 12th graders who are bigger and stronger,” DiGioacchino said. “So it’s a great accomplishment.”
Phillip was able to beat older runners because he has the mindset of an athlete, not just a track athlete.
“Sprinters aren’t always as competitive,” DiGioacchino said. “Jayden hates to lose more than a lot of other kids out there.”
The coach was already excited about Phillip’s potential moving forward. But now he’s even more pumped.
Phillip’s best event is not even the 100-meter dash. He’s better at the 200-meter dash and at the 400-meter dash. DiGioacchino thinks he could win at all three events in future championship meets.
“He has a chance to be one of the best in East Brunswick history,” DiGioacchino said. “I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him but I’m sure he shares that same goal.”
Davies is already one of the best runners in the Bears’ history. The senior holds four school records, multiple GMC titles and an NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional meet championship, in the 1,600-meter run during the indoor track season.
On May 14 in Old Bridge, he dominated the 3,200-meter run, crossing the finish line in 9:34.88, nearly seven seconds before the second place runner.
“Reyden just did more of what Reyden does,” DiGioacchino said. “He has proven he’s the best distance runner in the county.”
What separates Davies from other distance runners is his athleticism. Endurance is the most prominent characteristic of a good distance runner. Davies combines that with the breakaway speed of a football player.
“He closes races in under 65 seconds sometimes. Some guys can’t close a mile that fast, let alone a two mile,” DiGioacchino said. “You can’t teach speed and he’s got it.”
For Davies this spring, the GMC title was hopefully only the beginning. His goal is to win the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run at the Central Jersey, Group 4 state sectional and Group 4 state meets.
He also wants to compete for those titles at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions on June 8 at Northern Burlington County Regional High School.
“He has accomplished almost everything,” DiGioacchino said. “But he’s trying to chase down more victories.”
Phillip’s goals are not as tangible. He is, after all, a freshman, so he just hopes to keep getting better.
“The goal for Jayden is to run hard and hopefully get more personal records,” DiGioacchino said.