Miles Fye-Moore saw his faith in the West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North boys’ track and field team rewarded with the program’s first outdoor Group III state championship on June 3 at Northern Burlington.
The fact that the senior was able to contribute as much as he did was just a bonus.
“It’s still something I have to grasp,” Fye-Moore said. “Just to know I accomplished one of the best things with this group of guys and one of the best things our school’s team has ever done, and know how hard we’ve worked, it feels good. It’s indescribable really.”
Fye-Moore tied his personal best with a 14.80 clocking in the 110-meter hurdles for a surprise second place, was fifth in the 100 meters in 11.01 seconds and just missed scoring in his third and fourth events. He was seventh in the 200 meters and part of the seventh-place 4×400 relay that received a wild-card berth to the Meet of Champions, which was scheduled for June 10. The top six finishers in each event, plus the next six best marks from across all groups qualify for the MOC.
“I never really doubt myself,” Fye-Moore said. “I don’t doubt my teammates before I go into a meet, but there’s always nerves. We talked the whole week and we told ourselves, ‘It’s going to be close and everybody has to do well.’ Going into the meet, your confidence is there, but the nerves are 10 times more knowing it’s going to be so close that everyone has to be good. We were confident in each other. We made sure we had each other’s backs and kept positively talking throughout the whole day because we knew we needed each other.”
The Knights scored points in nine individual events, a far cry from the way many group titles are won. Governor Livingston, for example, won the Group II state meet that was held concurrently at Northern Burlington with one athlete winning three golds, a win from their pole vaulter and only one other athlete scoring individually. WW-P North used depth to pull away from Pennsauken for the team title by a 44-35 margin. Four other teams were within 12 points of the Knights.
“The only gold medal that North won was the one on the team trophy,” said Knights head coach Brian Gould. “We had no first-place finishes. They revolutionized the way that state championships are won in track. Normally, a team with one sprinter and thrower, they win five events between them and win the team trophy. Our guys scored in pole vault, triple jump, 100, 110 hurdles, 800, 1600, two guys in the 3200, and the 4×8.”
Atharv Kulkarni was fourth in the 800 in 1:55.98. Matthew Santamaria was third in the 3,200 in 9:16.95 and fourth in the 1,600 in 4:19.61. Vedang Lad was fifth in the 3,200 in 9:21.15.
John Owens was second in the 400 hurdles in 53.30 seconds. He took sixth in the triple jump in 43-feet-11.25.
Kacper Rzempoluch was second in the pole vault with a clearance of 14-feet. The 4×800 of Kulkarni, Luke Johnson, Pranod Gottipatti and Ted Braun took sixth in 8:00.00. The 4×400 of Fye-Moore, Isaiah Miranda, Evan Francis and Kulkarni qualified for the MOC with their 3:24.00 clocking.
The championship season has been a work in progress. The Knights have looked at this year as a culmination of a process.
One of the hardest thing to do is to win a team championship. It’s not just an individual thing, but everybody had a good day on the same day and we got the job done,” Fye-Moore said.
What helped propel the Knights to the title was the way that they competed. Miles Fye-Moore was sixth in the preliminaries in 15.15 seconds and that put him in Lane 7 for the finals, where he would have scored one point for the team had he finished his sixth-place seed. Instead, he took second.
“My coach always tells me, it doesn’t matter what lane you’re in,” Fye-Moore said. “I just told myself I’m going to run my own race, I’m not going to worry about who’s seeded ahead of me, I’m just going to go out and win it. In the middle of the hurdles, I realized I’m still up with these guys. I ended up getting second. I knew I needed to step up in a big way and I did. It’s a good feeling to get a PR in the biggest meet of the season.”
Moving up in the rankings was prevalent among WW-P North’s athletes. They started the meet with inspiring performances that kept building toward the team title.
“Friday was a good night,” Gould said of the first day of the two-day meet. “Every guy who competed Friday finished higher than his seed. That continued to a large extent through Saturday. Atharv finished fourth in the 800 and he was in the unseeded heat. The 4×8 was seeded 11th and they medaled. Kacper was seeded fourth and took second. Fye-Moore was seeded sixth in the hurdles and he finished second. There was race after race after race where guys outperformed what they were supposed to do.
Fye-Moore would never have believed anyone who said he’d be the silver medalist in the 110 hurdles at the state level. Fye-Moore was 16th at sectionals last year, 10 spots away from even making the group meet. But the Knights hurdles coach Matthew Warren believed in him, and he pushed Fye-Moore this year, his first year really focusing on it.
“I’m glad he did,” Fye-Moore said. “He’s a well-rounded coach. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s got my form so good. I wish I would have listened to him before. He showed me how good at hurdles I could be.”
Warren has worked all season with Fye-Moore to get him able to compete with the top hurdlers in the area. His times dropped and he notched 14.80 finishes twice in his first two weeks of the state championship season.
“It kind of clicked for sectionals in the middle of the race,” Fye-Moore said. “I finally got it. He told me before I started, he told me one day it’s just going to come to me.”
Fye-Moore has done a little of everything for the Knights. In addition to sprints, hurdles and running on relays, he has high jumped. He will be looking to do anything that’s asked of him again next year when he competes at Central Connecticut State College.
“He’s so competitive in a really positive way,” Gould said of Fye-Moore. “He’s competitive at practice which makes all his teammates better. He likes to push the workouts. Our other senior guys—John, Isaiah, Evan—those guys respond to that. They’re good friends so they like training. They like pushing each other in workouts. He’s very focused.”
The Group III title topped off quite a season. The week before, WW-P North had won the North Jersey 2, Group III crown handily, and the week before that the Knights captured the Mercer County Championship by a single point.
“As the season went on we started to realize how good we are and how much we could accomplish this year,” Fye-Moore said. “As the season we went along, we just kept raising the bar each week. When we got to the states, we said let’s go for it and we won.”
The win came with other rewards. More WW-P North athletes than ever qualified out of groups for the Meet of Champions.
“We talked a lot this year about heroes being guys who do ordinary things at extraordinary times,” Gould said. “Each of these guys has really bought into that and really taken care of business for himself on the big stage. There’s a lot of momentum and senior leadership and great culture and the guys are really very emotionally invested in this. They care a lot, they care about each other and they care a lot about how they compete and the team and uniform they’re wearing. They got on a roll at the right time.”