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.”
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.