Despite “Bubble” Collapse, Winter Track Team Finishes Out Season Strong


The winter track team’s group photo. (Courtesy of Coach Kind)

The CHS winter track team’s season was disrupted by the collapse of the Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex Bubble in late January due to snow. Located in Toms River, “The Bubble” is where most of the New Jersey indoor track meets are held.

“It was tough, we lost a number of competitions, and it hurt the kids a lot,” Head Coach Charles Kind said.

As a result of the Bubble’s collapse, the team’s three remaining meets were either canceled or relocated. One meet was moved to Ocean Breeze, which is one of America’s biggest indoor track complexes, set in Staten Island.

Due to its being a winter sport, cold weather and snow are often factors that need to be accounted for. Even though the coaches are prepared for this, they never know when it will happen.

“We’ve been through winters like this before in 2014 and 2016, and the only thing you can do is shift your training plan and continue to work hard,” Kind said.

For members on the team, it was necessary to figure out ways to continue to make the best out of their season.

“It definitely changed our race plans, and it was challenging to shift training and workouts around the new schedule,” TJ Schill, a junior on the team, said.

The meets this year had been something to look forward to. Several student-athletes on the winter track team had not yet experienced their first real meet. Whether students were returning members who did not get to compete traditionally last season due to COVID limitations, or athletes who are new to winter track, this season was the first for many athletes in terms of getting to experience winter track meets.

“My season was just about to begin, due to COVID and the bubble’s collapse lessened my opportunities,” junior Matt McCarron said about how the change affected him.

Going into the season, the team’s main goal was to do the best they could in preparation for spring track.

“Our goals this year as a team are to put our best foot forward at each meet with healthy athletes so we can go as far as possible,” junior Lea Del Grippo said earlier in the season. Del Grippo is a thrower, sprinter, and also competes in the high jump competition.

At the Central Jersey Group II Championships, both the girls’ and boys’ teams were able to return to “The Bubble” to compete and found success.

The boys’ team finished in a second-place tie with Nottingham High School, behind Manchester High School. Finishing with 48 points, behind Manchester’s 60.5, the boys’ side finished in second place for the second consecutive time at the NJ Group II Sectional Championships.

Strong performances led by the juniors and seniors resulted in several qualifications for the Group II State Championship Meet held on Feb. 26. Junior Malicah Etienne finished with a first-place finish in the shot put, followed by senior Colin Kind who placed fourth. Junior Alex Boyko ended the meet with two second-place finishes in the 1600 meter run, as well as the 3200-meter run. Junior Tyler Schill finished third in the 1600 and fourth in the 3200 while junior Matt McCarron secured a fifth-place finish in the 3200. Junior Derek Coceano finished fourth in the 800-meter run, and the boys’ 4×400 meter team finished in fifth.

The girls’ team also finished third for the second consecutive time at the NJ Group II Sectional Championships. The girls finished with 26 points, behind Point Pleasant Boro’s 62 points, and Rumson-Fair Haven’s 107 points.

On the girls’ team, junior Stephanie Renouf finished first place in the 3200-meter run. Junior Lea Del Grippo finished in second place for the high jump as well as in fourth place for the shot put. The girls finished their meet by placing fifth in the 4×400 meter relay race. Renouf, Del Grippo, and the 4×400 meter team joined the boys at the Group II State Championship meet.

At the Group II State Championship held last weekend at “The Bubble,” several Pirates qualified for the Meet of Champions. Junior Malicah Etienne finished in fourth place and will be moving on as a wildcard. Additionally, the 4×800 meter run team consisting of juniors Alex Boyko, Matt McCarron, Tyler Schill, and Derek Coceano will also be attending the Meet of Champions this coming weekend.

Junior Stephanie Renouf finished in third place for the Group II Girls 3200 meter run at the State Championship and automatically secured a spot at this weekend’s Meet of Champions.