The Kingsway Track and Field Program has a reputation of being one of the top programs in New Jersey. It consistently produces national-level athletes and garners many invitation and championship titles.
For the girls winter program, there has been one title that has alluded them throughout its history- a South Jersey championship. For the boys program, winter and spring, they have never been able to garner an individual group state team title.
Well, the jinx has been broken, as this past winter season, both the girls and boys programs got those elusive wins, winning a Girls South Jersey Group 3 championship and a Boys State Group 3 championship, as well as its fourth boys South Jersey title.
Coached by Christian Lynch, Curtis Custis, and Jen Beckett, this program has amassed quite a haul in the last nine years. Prior to this season, the girls have won state relay team titles in 2007, 2013, and 2014, while the boys won a state relay team title in 2014 as well as South Jersey Group 3 championships in 2009, 2013, and 2014.
Furthermore, the program has produced state champions such as Tivo Rivera, Liz Locke, Derrell Manhertz, and Delicia Sample, as well as three-time national champion Chelsea Ley.
For the girls team this season, they entered the South Jersey Group 3 Championships projected to get fourth in the team standings. Standing in their way was four-time defending champion Winslow Township. The girls put together a complete team effort, scoring in eight of the nine contested events, to spring the upset.
Senior star Thaila Cooper sparked this effort, winning her third consecutive South Jersey Group 3 title in the 400 meter race. Cooper then went on the following week to win her third consecutive state championship in the 400 meter race.
The boys team started on a tear this season and continued it the entire season, going undefeated the whole way. They won the Ursinus Bears Invitational team title and then followed that up by capturing their second consecutive State Group 3 Relay team championship, winning the 4×800, sprint medley, distance medley, and pole vault relays in the process.
At the South Jersey Group 3 championships, they went into the meet as the slight favorite and ended up defeating archrival Timber Creek by 42 points for their third consecutive title.
The following weekend, the boys team went into the state championships projected to finish sixth, behind two-time defending champion Timber Creek among others. Like their female counterparts, they were able to score points across many different events and clinch the meet in the final event- the boys 4×400, setting off a wild celebration. After so many years of finishing second, they finally were able to pull off the ultimate prize- New Jersey Group 3 champions.
“Hard work pays off,” said Coach Custis. “At the end of the day, these veterans have left a mark on the Kingsway track and field program and the school in general. I couldn’t be prouder.”
“These kids have made themselves into elite athletes. They’ve been able to do some special things. They have team chemistry, and these kids have bought into what we were trying to sell.”