By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Macie McCracken’s sensational freshman year got even better over the weekend.
The Wildwood High School 15-year-old added to her already impressive high school athletic resume with a pair of victories at the South Jersey Group I championships at Buena Regional High School.
McCracken claimed top honors in the 3200-meter race early Friday evening, before returning to Buena to win the 1600-meter race early Saturday afternoon.
McCracken won both races going away. She posted times of 11 minutes, 33.39 seconds in the 3200 and 5:33.45 in the 1600, both personal bests. McCracken finished one place ahead of Haddon Township junior Meghan Lex in both races, winning the 3200 by a sublime 28 seconds and the 1600 by more than four seconds.
Her 3200 time is also a school record, breaking her own mark from earlier this season.
“It was very exciting, especially to have everyone supporting me,” McCracken said. “It was a lot of fun. My goal was to make it to states, but I wasn’t sure I could win first place.”
McCracken next heads to next weekend’s state championship meet. She has a chance to compete well in both events. Her 3200-meter time was the best of any Group I runner at the four sectional meets.
“I’m excited but I’m also a little nervous,” McCracken said about the chance to run at the state championship meet. “I hope I run well and I hope I have a chance to win.”
McCracken’s double adds to an already brilliant freshman year in athletics. In the fall, she won the Big Five and Cape May County meets, placed second at the South Jersey Group I meet and led Wildwood to a division championship in cross country. In the winter, McCracken made 65 three-pointers and averaged 15.4 points and 2.3 steals for a girls basketball team that won division and South Jersey titles.
“I’m thankful for everyone that’s helped me,” McCracken said. “It’s just been a really fun year. Hopefully my next years in high school are successful, too.”
Middle Township’s Keira Phillips was the only other local South Jersey track champion. The senior won the 400-meter hurdles race at the South Jersey Group II meet at Delsea Regional High School in 1:04.38. That time is one of the top 25 in the country this season according to milesplit.com.
Phillips also qualified for the state meet in the 400-meter race by placing third in 1:00.11.
In addition to McCracken and Phillips, a handful of others from the area will also compete at this weekend’s state championship meets through top-six finishes at the sectional meets.
Senior MaryKatelyn West of Lower Cape May placed second in the pole vault at the Group II girls meet at a height of 9-0.
Junior Ciara DiMauro of Middle Township was third in the high jump at the Group II girls meet at a height of 5-0.
Middle Township sophomore Iyanna Bennett was third in the triple jump at 34-6.75 at the Group II girls meet.
Middle Township’s 4×800-meter relay team also qualified for states through a fourth-place finish in 10:35.40. The runners included Phillips, Sofia Jurusz, Paulina Rios and Olivia Harkins.
On the boys side, Lower Cape May’s Davon Figueroa placed fourth in the 100-meter dash in 11.05 seconds at the Group II boys meet. Figueroa also joined teammates Anthony Gentile, Elijah Jackson and Zeb Hinker for a sixth-place finish in the 4×400-meter relay race in 3:31.05.