• Dan Russoman

Austin Hudak wins state championship

Senior wins Group 3 javelin title; Wright, Peretti headed to MOC


Hammonton senior Austin Hudak celebrates with his gold medal following a winning performance in the javelin at last weekend’s state Group 3 championships. (Courtesy Photo)

PENNSAUKEN—Senior Austin Hudak won a gold medal at the State Group 3 championships last weekend, leading strong performance from Hammonton High School as three Blue Devils earned trips to this week’s Meet of Champions (MOC).


Hudak, Hammonton’s school record-holder in the javelin, recorded a mark of 194-feet on his first attempt of the day to win the event last Saturday at Pennsauken High School. His throw was almost 18-feet better than second-place finisher Ryan Drwal of North Hunterdon (176-1).


“It feels amazing. I feel very accomplished. My technique felt good today. I concentrated on my steps and a getting a good release. I had the right angle and it flew. I’m excited to get after it at the Meet of Champions,” Hudak said.


The top six finishers in each event earn medals at the state championships and the top two earn berths at the MOC. Third to eighth-place finishers can earn wild card bids based on times and distances.


Hudak will be joined at the MOC by teammate Connor Wright, who earned a bronze medal for his third-place finish in the long jump. Wright had a mark of 21-feet, 10.25-inches to take third, a mark that should qualify for a wild card berth.


Wright had been struggling with fouls in recent meets, but was able to make all his jumps count last weekend.


The senior should also earn a wild card bid in the triple jump, where he placed sixth at 44-feet, 6.25-inches.


“It feels great. I just wanted to give it my all. I am extremely excited to be going to the MOC in two events. This will be my last state organized meet ever, so I am going out there and giving it my all,” Wright said.


Also headed to the MOC is junior Emma Peretti, who took home a silver medal in the discus. This will be her second-straight trip to the Meet of Champions.


Hammonton’s record-holder in the discus, Peretti won silver with a throw of 121-feet, 6-inches. She will also compete in the shot put after earning a wild-card with her fourth place finish (36-11.75) last weekend.


“It’s been an exciting weekend. I was hoping to win [discus], but I’m really excited for next week and hope to do well at the Meet of Champions,” Peretti said.


Hudak and Wright helped Hammonton’s boys place 12th among the 40 teams at the state finals.


“As a whole, the program is always excited to see guys advance to the Meet of Champions. It gives the school a chance to showcase who we have competing,” Hammonton coach Jeff Dey said.


“For Connor [Wright], it’s very exciting to see him advance in both events because as the season went on, he struggled a little bit focusing on both of them [the long jump and triple jump]. To see him make it in both is amazing. He’s been working hard at it for the past four years,” Dey said.


Dey also had praise for Hudak.


“Austin [Hudak] has always been the person people have been chasing this year in our group. It’s amazing to see that he’s able to keep his composure going through everything he does and continue to improve every time he throws,” Dey said.


“Both these boys [Wright and Hudak] are true competitors and always raise the bar for our own team. It’s truly great to see them go to the next level and we look forward to hearing what happens over the next four years,” Dey said.


Several Hammonton athletes competed last weekend in other events. Dom Alber was 11th in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.03 seconds, his best of the season. Dom DeRose finished the 400-meter dash in 51.01 seconds, good for 19th place.


In the 4x100 relay, Alber, C.J. Handy, Aaron LaSasso and Aaron Mull finished 18th in 44.80 seconds, while the 4x400 team (DeRose, Fernando Flores, LaSasso and Handy) was 22nd in 3:35.97. The 4x800 team, Jesus Flores, Fernando Flores, DeRose and Brandon Martinez, was 21st in 8:49.05.