Southern’s Jackson Braddock continues chase of state record, stars at Group 4 meet –

Southern’s Jackson Braddock continues chase of state record, stars at Group 4 meet

Jackson Braddock wasn’t saving anything for later in the meet.

The Southern senior kept pushing the pace on his way to breaking the all-groups record in the 3,200 Saturday and will have several races remaining to shatter the overall state record.

In a race featuring a handful of the state’s top distance runners, Braddock left no doubt about his status Saturday as he ran away from Ridge’s Jackson Barna and Marco Langon of Bridgewater-Raritan during the NJSIAA Group Championships at Franklin High School.

Braddock stopped the clock at 8:48.64 to Barna’s 8:56.49 while Langon was third in 9:03.50. Braddock and Barna dipped under the former all-groups record of 8:56.91, which was set by Joe Rosa of West Windsor-Plainsboro North in 2011.

“It wasn’t the expectation coming into today. I just wanted to win, but it felt pretty good,” Braddock said about breaking the all-groups record. “Maybe I was a little ambitious going into those final laps, but I wanted to put it away and feel comfortable coming down the homestretch.”

Jackson Braddock of Southern wins the Group 4 boys 3,200 during the NJSIAA Group Track and Field Championships for Groups 2 & 4 at Franklin High in Franklin, NJ on 6/12/21. Chris Faytok | NJ Advance Media for

Braddock, who will continue his career at the University of Virginia next year, ran his last 400 meters in 61 seconds after running 4:27.56 for the first mile. He said he picked up the pace on his fifth lap, and that’s when he separated from Barna, who also dipped under the former all-groups record.

“How smooth it felt,” was what stood out the most for Braddock, he said.

“I know Jackson Barna and Marco Langon are really good runners so I knew I’d have to run quickly,” he added. “I wanted to squeeze the pace and see how they responded. Credit to Barna — he sounded really relaxed. He sounded really good through the mile. I started to pick it up a little bit, and I dropped him. I just wanted to keep my foot on the gas and make sure he couldn’t close.”

Next up, Braddock gets a rematch against Barna at the Meet of Champions next Saturday. It will be the next chance for Braddock to take a crack the state record time of 8:46.04 that Craig Forys of Colts Neck ran in 2007. Rosa holds the converted record in the 3,200 after running 8:41.02 in the two mile at New Balance Nationals in 2010.

About an hour after winning the 3,200, Braddock doubled back to take second in the 800 as he out-kicked three runners down the homestretch. Old Bridge’s Nicholas Medeiros won in a NJ #1 1:50.98 while Braddock took second in 1:53.12.