HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2015
KATY AND AMANDA TROTTER
The first two inductees into this year’s Hall of Fame Class couldn’t be here today, but since they seemingly did everything together, including finishing many races attached at the hip, I felt it was only fitting that twins Katy and Amanda Trotter be introduced at the same time.
Check out what they two did during their remarkable careers at Red Bank High School.
For starters, Katy and Amanda combined to win nine Meet of Champions titles during their remarkable careers and won numerous state, county, and conference titles, and combined to help Red Bank break the national and state record in the distance medley relay.
Amanda won the 1,600 at the indoor Meet of Champions in 2001, won the 3200 at the indoor Meet of Champions in 2002 and 2003, captured the 1,600 and 3,200 at the outdoor Meet of Champions in 2003, and in a race where Katy and Amanda finished side-by-side at the 2002 cross-country Meet of Champions, Amanda was declared the winner in a race many will consider a tie.
Meanwhile, Katy captured three straight Meet of Champions titles indoors in the 800 from 2001 through 2003, and finished off one of the best cross-country seasons in state history when she placed second in 17.43.9 at the Foot Locker National Championships.
Although their individual accomplishments were breathtaking, the Trotter twins always cherished what they did together on the distance medley relay in 2003 as their greatest moments.
At the 2003 Penn Relays, Amanda led off in 3:34.6 and Katy anchored in 4:49.9 as Red Bank, second the year before, captured the DMR in 11:46.59.
Later that season, Red Bank, with Amanda and Katy again as the bookends, ran a state and national record of 11:37.86 as it repeated as champion at the Adidas National Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The 11:37.86 DMR time stood as the national record for one year and as the state record for eight years.
After graduating from Red Bank, the Trotter twins both went on to All-American careers at Stanford University.
JOHN CHAMBERS JR.
Next up is one of the greatest sprinters in state history.
This Hall of Famer began his high school sports career sitting on the bench at Neptune High School as a freshman on the baseball team in the spring of 1971.
But at the end of that baseball season, Neptune baseball coach Lou Desamo advised him to try running track to take advantage of his remarkable speed.
The rest is history.
In his first track season as a sophomore, where he was coached by Hall of Famer HANK Nonnenberg, he won his first Novice 60 yard dash 6.6 at the Jersey City Armory, and finished 3rd in the Shore Conference 60 yard dash in 6.4. Outdoor he was 3rd at the Shore Conference in the 100 yard dash in 9.9, and tied the Neptune school 100 yard dash record of 9.7.
Things really started to click in his junior year when he had a sizzling time of 6.2 to win the 60 yard dash at the indoor Meet of Champions to break the state record, and then outdoors he captured the Shore Conference 100 in 9.9, the Group 4 100 in 9.9, and the Meet of Champions in 9.8.
As a senior he turned in one of the greatest years in state history for a sprinter. Indoors he went undefeated against high school competition, and ran a state record 6.1 in the 60 to win both the Meet of Champions and the Eastern States titles. His only loss that season came when he finished behind Olympians Hasley Crawford and Larry Black in a 50-yard dash at Madison Square Garden.
Outdoors as a senior he won every local and state race in the 100, highlighted by a 9.4 to win the Eastem States title, which is the second fastest time in state history. .
After graduating from Neptune in 1974, he went on to star at Seton Hall University, and has coached at Neptune High School since 1978.
The next member of this year’s Hall of Fame Class is without question one of the greatest throwers in state history as she was a record breaking machine in the circle in high school and college, and put on a exclamation point on her amazing career by representing the U.S. in 2 World Championships and at the 1992 Olympic Games.
It didn’t take long for this star to make her mark at Freehold Township as she won the first of three straight shot put title at the outdoor Meet of Champions as a sophomore in 1980.
As a junior in 1981, she unloaded a bomb of 46-8 in the shot which stood as the state record for 10 years and is still the Monmouth County record, and swept the shot and discus at the Meet of Champions.
As a senior in 1982, she added the indoor Meet of Champions shot put title to her resume and won her third straight shot put at the outdoor Meet of Champs to finish her high school career with 5 Meet of Champions titles.
Her college career was just as impressive as she was named All-American 6 times at Stanford University and captured the NCAA indoor title in the shot put in 1987.
After college she was one of the top throwers in the country, earning spots on the U.S. teams that competed at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, the Olympic Games in 1992 in Spain, and the 1993 World Championships in Germany.
The next Hall of Fame Inductee has been a pioneer in the sport of track and field as well as one of most successful coaches in state history.
A runner in high school under legendary coach Frank Gagliano at Roselle Catholic from 1964-68, this Hall of Famer started coaching at Toms River South in 1972 and hasn’t stopped since.
In that span- he’s coached 115 seasons combined between cross-country and indoor and outdoor track. After a great run as head coach, he now serves as an assistant coach at Toms River South under Brian Decker.
During his long tenure as head coach at Toms River South he led his teams to 2 Ocean County cross-country titles, 3 sectional cross-country championships, 5 ocean county indoor track and field titles, 3 county indoor relays championships, the 1995 state Group 3 indoor title, 14 outdoor Shore Conf. Class Championships, 9 Ocean County outdoor titles, and 4 outdoor sectional titles.
That’s not all.
He’s also coached six Meet of Champions winners, started the Indoor Ocean County Championships and Indoor Ocean County Relays, helped found the new Shore Track Coaches Association in the mid 1970ʼs, served as the treasurer for 4 years, corresponding secretary for 12 years, and has been an Executive Member of this Association for several years.
Our next Hall of Famer was a great runner during his days at Quincy High School in Massachusetts in the early 1960’s where he was BAA Champion and State Champion in the Indoor 600 yard run and State Champion in the outdoor 440 yard run.
He then went on to stardom at Villanova University where he was
Philadelphia City Champion in the 880 yard run, and was a member of the winning Championship of America 4 X 880 and Distance Medley Relay teams at the Penn Relays in 1966.
In that DMR at race-he helped Villanova break the meet record by seven seconds. He received All America honors for the 4 X 880 yard relay in 1966 both indoors and outdoors, was All-American on the Distance Medley Relay teams indoor in 1967, and was a member of the IC4A 4 X 880 relay team winners.
After graduating from Villanova he began coaching at St. Joseph’s in Metuchen.
During his years there from 1968-1976, he led St. Joseph’s to County, Conference and State Team titles in Cross Country, and Indoors and Outdoors in Track and Field.
Among his biggest highlights at St. Joe’s were guiding the team to the first ever title at the New Jersey Cross Country Meet of Champions, and leading the team to the 1975 4×800 Championship of America title at the Penn Relays.
He also coached teams to top five finishes in Championship of America Relays in the 4 X 440, 4 X 880 and distance medley.
From 1977 to 1992 he coached at Brick Township High School, where he
produced team champions in county, conference and State Sectionals in Cross Country, and Indoor and Outdoors as well, and he coached several individual champions.
After some time off from coaching he surfaced at Donovan Catholic from 2003-2009 where he served as assistant in charge of the sprinters and jumpers, and helped coach the team to county and state titles, including the 2008 Outdoor Non-Public B Team Title.
In addition to his great run as an athlete and coach, this Hall of Famer served as a president and treasurer of the Shore Track Coaches Association, was a meet director and Indoor meet coordinator while coaching at Brick and Donovan Catholic, and worked with Hall of Famer Ed Scullion for many years using the computerized timing system to manage and time meets for the Shore Track Coaches, Shore Conference, NJSIAA, IC4A, Big East and the Ivy League.
The next Hall of Famer isn’t just one of the best distance runners in Shore Conference history, she also put together one of the best careers in state history on the trails and on the track.
During her days at Middletown South in the late 1990’s she won 19 state championships in all three seasons combined, was a 4-time Meet of Champions winner, multiple All-American, a national champion, broke the state record indoors in the 2-mile, was a 9-time county champion, and a 4-time Shore Conference champion.
After winning the indoor Meet of Champions title in the 3200 as a junior in 1998, this distance running standout blossomed into a national star in her senior year.
During the cross-country season in 1998, she broke the coveted 18-minute barrier at Holmdel Park twice as she became the first girl to accomplish that feat in 10 years. She became the first Shore Conference girl to win the Meet of Champions title as she led the Eagles to the team title and the state’s No. 1 ranking, and she capped off her magical season by placing seventh at the Foot Locker Nationals to earn All-American honors.
Her success and dominance carried over to the track.
In the indoor season she repeated as 3,200 champion at the Meet of Champions, teamed up with twin sister Maggie to win the distance medley at the National Scholastic Championships, and placed 2nd in the 2-mile at nationals in 10:27.20 to smash the 14-year-old state record that was held by Olympian Anne Marie Letko of North Hunterdon by 8 seconds.
After winning the outdoor Meet of Champions title in the 3,200 to finish off the triple crown of distance running-which consists of a M of C title in all three seasons in the same school year, she and Maggie brought their running shoes to Boston College.
At BC, she was a multiple All-American and Big East award winner in all three seasons.
After graduating from Boston College in 2003 she completed her Masters at the University of Colorado and married Univ. of Colorado runner Jason Robbie. They currently live in Boulder, Colorado with their 3 children.
Still an active runner, she finished 15th at the 2014 US Cross-Country Championships.
When Elliott Denman attended the “flying off to Helsinki” track and field meet at Triboro Stadium, Randall’s Island, New York City, saluting America’s 1952 Olympians as they went through their final paces before they headed off to the Games of the XV Olympiad, he could never, ever have guessed that he’d be a member of his Uncle Sam’s next Olympic team.
After all, the only meets he’d ever entered to that point were lowest-key PAL races where he was a whole lot less than a world-beater. But Taft HS graduate Denman discovered race walking as an NYU sophomore in 1954, and one thing led to another, and another, and another.
He’d always been a track and field fan – ever since he got to see the nation’s best in action at the 1945 Nationals at Randall’s Island and then got to cheer big brother Marty when he ran the sprints for NYU and then LIU. And he’d always enjoyed walking – as a 14-mile Boy Scout hiker and then ardent stroller around the New York boroughs.
So racewalking and Elliott Denman proved perfect together. He progressed from the Junior Met AAU 1-mile in 1954 to the National AAU 30K in 1955 to the USA 50K (31-mile) Olympic Trials in 1956, where he beat the long-long-longest of odds and walked his way onto the Melbourne-bound Olympic team.
He placed 11th in the 50K in those first Games ever staged in the Southern Hemisphere; recognition as a USA Olympian opened “a million doors,” and his life was never quite the same. Track and field – and all sports – became a huge part of his life in the sportswriting career he began with the Long Branch, N.J. Daily Record, and then in a 35 1/2-year stint as award-winning sports writer and columnist for the Asbury Park Press.
Along the way, he did a lot more than write about sports. He would serve as “founding father” of the “new” Shore Athletic Club, as organizer and director of hundreds of events including the New Jersey International Meet, the Asbury Park Polar Bear Races, the National AAU Relays, the summer-long Takanassee Lake Races, and the National 40K Racewalk, and as then-Monmouth College’s first varsity track and cross country coach.
As a journalist, he went on to cover 13 Olympic Games (11 summer, two winter), all 14 editions of the World Outdoor Championships, and many more. After formally retiring from the Asbury Park Press, he’s covered the sport for a long list of national and international print and electronic publications and outlets. And he’s been an official (HS, college, USATF, etc) and IAAF-level racewalking judge, too.
He never really retired from racewalking, either. He once set a U.S. record for the 52 1/2-mile London to Brighton walk in England, and racewalked to 33 completions of the NYC Marathon.
Elliott and Jo Denman, married for 52 years, residents of West Long Branch since 1964, are parents of three and grandparents of eight. “Jo is a very understanding wife,” he’s often said. “I’m a very fortunate guy to have found her. I was born in the Bronx; she’s from Sheringham, England. We beat some long-long-long odds there, too.”
The next Hall of Fame Inductee was the King of the Ring in New Jersey in the early 1990’s as he owned the discus and shot put circles during his days at Matawan High School.
In 1992 and 1993 he went undefeated against NJ competition in the shot put, winning the Meet of Champions titles in the shot put both indoors and outdoors both years.
In 1993 he won shot put at the National Indoor Championships, and captured the shot at the Penn Relays, Golden West Invitational, and the Keebler Classic.
Also in 1993, he captured the discus title at the Meet of Champions and unloaded personal bests of 191-7 in the discus and 64-8 in the shot put, both marks are among the best in state history.
He still holds the Shore Conference outdoor record and is regarded as one of the best throwers in NJ history.
After graduating from Matawan in 1993 he went on to start at middle linebacker for 4 years at Michigan State under current Alabama coach Nick Saban.