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Napolitano, O'Neill take gold medals at Meet of Champions

February 25, 2013
Red Bank Catholic High School

Rob Napolitano felt the agony of victory Saturday.

Minutes after winning the NJSIAA Meet of Champions title in 4:17.84 in the 1600 meters, the Red Bank Catholic senior comforted himself at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex.

“I always feel great during the race,” he said after excusing a reporter to gather himself, “but for some reason, it feels like I am getting whacked by a two by four after winning. I feel bad after winning, but it’s always worth it on a day like today when you win the Meet of Champions. It comes down to who suffers the most and who has the strongest race.

“To win, feels almost surreal right now. I almost felt it was out of reach. I am so proud of myself. It’s insane. I have been running the 1,600 indoors since I was a freshman and to finally win it feels awesome. For it to be my day feels amazing.”

Napolitano was not the only Shore Conference runner to strike gold as Middletown North junior Tom O’Neill sped to a victory in the 3,200 in 9:02.00.

Napolitano ran the first 800 in 2:14.

“I felt good,” he said. “The race did not go out as fast as I felt it would. I felt it would go out real fast, but it didn’t. At that point, everyone was telling me the second heat was faster. I felt I was going to lose. I had to take off and go against the clock. I knew I would be able to run the final 600 fast enough to win.

“I made my big move. Nobody responded all that much. I was by myself on the final three laps.”

Christian Brothers Academy senior Jack Boyle, who will attend Columbia University with Napolitano, was third in 4:20.49.

“Heading into the race, I was confident I would win,” Napolitano said. “I focused on win, win, win. I was hysterical as I came across the finish line. I did not know I won. My coaches told me I won and that’s when the excitement came out.”

Napolitano admitted to feeling jittery prior to the race.

“When I woke up this morning at around eight, the nerves started to settle in,” he said. “When I got here, someone said, ‘If you’re not gonna have fun, why do it?’ That’s when the nerves disappeared.”

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