Morris Hills Boys On Track for Greatness


The Morris Hills boys have certainly made their mark on the 2016 high school boys indoor track and field season thus far. Currently, their 4x800m relay team is ranked No.1 in the country! The team, consisting of seniors Ian McNally and Jason Schweizer and juniors Nalin Chopra and Alex Pai, finally broke 8 minutes with a time of 7:53.62, winning the Hispanic Games. This performance also qualified the group for the New Balance Nationals, where only a select handful of athletes from around the country will compete. With quite an accomplishment-filled season already, the boys have even bigger goals in mind as they train for the national competition.

Although the boys’ cross country campaign didn’t finish quite the way it was intended to, it served as a great platform for the coming season. They placed third at the North I Group III State Sectional competition, and advanced to the Group III State competition.

“It got us all in awesome shape for the indoor season,”  Ian McNally said. “We always knew that our breakout campaigns would come as seniors.”

More than anything however, most of the success this year is attributed to the experience that three of the relay members, McNally, Schweizer and Pai, gained last spring at New Balance Nationals Outdoor. The three of them helped Morris Hills place 6th in the nation in the 4x800m relay, earning them all the coveted “All-American” status.

“It gave us more experience for this year and has shown us what we are capable of,” explained Schweizer.

McNally voiced similar sentiments when discussing how the experience changed their whole perspective and gave them a newfound sense of confidence. “Running at nationals last year gave us a lot of confidence moving forward to know that we can perform under pressure on the biggest stages. We’ve changed a lot.”  

Pai, who was only a sophomore at the time, also spoke volumes about how much he grew with that amazing experience. “Anchoring an All American national team as a sophomore was a surreal experience that showed our team has what it takes to win a national title this year. I’ve taken the confidence from last season and used it as a driving force for this year.”

The boys opened up with a sense of that All-American pride and confidence with an impressive early season win at the Bishop Loughlin Games, posting the top national time at that moment, 8:06.78. McNally led off the race with a 1:58.8 split, creating a large gap between the rest of the competition. From there, Schweizer and Chopra maintained the lead, splitting 1:58.8 and 2:07.5 respectively. Finally, Alex Pai anchored the relay, and although the anchor leg of Archbishop Molloy, a New York based school, was neck-and-neck with Pai with 200 meters to go, Pai closed exceptionally well, accelerating past the opposition in the final 100 meter stretch and finishing off his leg in a 2:00.9.

Their top time remained for about a week until Abington, a team from southern Pennsylvania, posted a new nation leading 4x800m time of 8:01.01 at the Marine Corps Holiday Classic. Later on in the next two weeks, the Morris Hills 4x800m would have an amazing opportunity to take back their US No. 1 time at the Hispanic Games, a packed meet with lots of quality teams at the New Balance Track and Field Center (The Armory), a facility with a very fast banked track.

They pulled through in a big way, to say the least. McNally led off the race with a 1:56.6 split, creating a large gap between the rest of the competition. From there, Pai and Chopra split 2:00.2 and 2:03.0 respectively, handing the baton off to senior captain Jason Schweizer in 2nd place, about 10 meters out of the lead. Schweizer tactfully reeled in the competition, until he was within striking distance of the anchor leg of West Islip, another New York based school, and kicked it into full pace with 250 meters left, passing the competition. He crossed the finish line at 7:53.62, splitting a blistering 1:53.7 leg, and anchored Morris Hills to a new US No.1 time on January 9th; their time still stands today.

The Morris Hills boys 4×800 meter team continued their torrid stretch with another strong performance at the Group 3 State relays, which took place at the Bennett Center, famously known as “The Bubble” in Toms River. Finishing in 8:03.15, the group of four boys took down three 4×800 meter records in one race: the Group 3 State relay record, the meet record, and the Bennett Center all-time facility record.

With each race, it seems as though this close group of boys only improves. Led by Coach Sean Robinson, Pai, Chopra, McNally and Schweizer are learning more each time they race, and they seem to have no signs of slowing down. The next task at hand for the boys is the Armory Track Invitational, to which twelve 4×800 meter teams from the country were invited for the featured event. Best of luck to the boys and the rest of the Morris Hills Track and Field program, and be sure to follow the team as they continue to progress throughout the season. Go Knights!