Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Athlete bios courtesy of Jim Lambert

Tony Giordano

Tony was a big football star who turned himself into one of the state’s all-time best track and field and cross-country coaches as he built Asbury Park into one of the greatest programs in state history.

After starring on the gridiron for Hoboken High School, Trinidad Junior College and Adams College in Colorado in the late 1960’s, where he was named All-Conference on every level, he played professionally for the Jersey Jays in the Continental Football League.

This Hall of Fame coach landed a job as Physical Education and Assistant Coach and trainer for the football team at Asbury Park in 1972, and soon after

his arrival, Asbury Park longtime track and field coach Nick Merli saw something in him and asked him to coach track with him.

Primarily in charge of the distance runners, he quickly became a student of the sport and through his passion, hard work and self taught knowledge he was named head cross-country coach in 1973. Five years later he took over for Merli as the head boys indoor and outdoor track coach.

That was the beginning of a dynasty at Asbury Park as the Blue Bishops became a national powerhouse for the next three decades.

Under this coach, Asbury Park won 14 of its 15 state indoor relay titles, No. 2 in state history, 14 of its 15 state indoor Group Championships, also No. 2 in state history, 13 of its 15 state sectional outdoor titles, and 6 of its 8 state group outdoor championships.

And in cross-country, his teams won 4 sectional titles and two state group championships.

That comes to a total of 36 state championships during his nearly 30 years at Asbury Park.

Also during that time, he was instrumental in the development of some of the state’s biggest stars, including distance star and Hall of Famer Bryan Spoonire, shot putter Mitch Reeder, and long jumper Ron Lewis, who all won outdoor Meet of Champions winners. Asbury Park also won the 4×400 at the 1983 outdoor M of C and broke several relay meet records on the state level during his tenure.

He’s now retired and lives with his wife Elaine in Forked River –

Erison Hurtault

Erison had remarkable range on the track, was as valuable to his team as any runner in the state, went on to become a huge college star and competed at the Olympic Games.

As a senior in 2003 under Hall of Fame Coach Sam Turner at Matawan, he struck gold 4 times at the Central Jersey, Group 2 meet by winning the 200, 400, 800 and running on the winning 4×400 relay as Matawan nearly knocked off powerhouse Somerville, placing 2nd by just one point.

The following week at the state Group 2 meet, he captured the 200 and 400, was fourth in the 800 and ran on the winning 4×400. He finished his high school career wit PR’s 48.0 in the 400, 22.34 in the 200, and 1:56.69 in the 800.

After graduating from Matawan in 2003, he went on to have an historic career at Columbia University where he never lost a 400- meter race at the Heptagonal (Ivy League) championships, winning four indoor and four outdoor titles. He was twice an All- American for the Lions, finished third in a personal best 45.40 at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships, and ran the third leg when the Lions won the 4×800 Championship of America title at the Penn Relays.

After graduating from Columbia, he competed for the Dominica in the 400 at the World Indoor and Outdoor Championships and at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London he had the honor of being the flag bearer for Dominica at the Opening Ceremonies.

He now serves as the head cross-country and track and field coach at NYU

Mr. Higginson, Accepting for Ashley Higginson

Ashley is quite simply one of the greatest female distance runners to ever lace up the spikes in state history.
The titles, times, and accomplishments are staggering.
During her years at Colts Neck, this all-time great won four Meet of Champions titles on the track, won 5 state Group Championships, captured three national individual titles, smashed five state records, won two Penn Relays titles, ran on two national record setting relays, and was an All-American 7 times.
After playing soccer as a freshman, she switched to cross-country as a sophomore and began to blossom into a superstar
Indoors her sophomore year she won the Group 3 title and Meet of Champions title in the 3200, and made All-American when she finished 4th in the 2 mile at the Nationals.
As a junior, she led the cross-country team to a #17 ranking in the US, in the winter, she won another Meet of Champions 3,200 title, anchored the National Championship 4 x 1 mile relay team, made ALL-American in the 2 mile and in the spring, won her 2nd straight Group 3 title and was third at the Meet of Champions in the 3200.
As a senior, she pulled off one of the greatest distance running triple crowns in state history, winning national titles in all three seasons, the Nike Cross Nationals, and the two-mile both indoors and outdoors.
In cross-country, she led the Cougars to their 2nd straight Group title and their first Meet of Champion team title. She went on to finish first and lead Colts Neck to a 4th place finish in the nation.  In winter track, she won her 3rd straight MOC title in the 3200,  again anchored the 4 x 1 mile relay to the National Championship with a new State record and then won the National title in the 2 mile with a new State record.
But she wasn’t done.
She started out the spring season running the 5000 in a college invitational at Princeton and beat every college runner in the race and smashed the state record. That season she set a new state record in the steeplechase, won the Group 3 title and Meet of Champions title in the 3,200, and then came from behind to win the 2 mile in a new state record at the New Balance Nationals.
After high school, she competed for Princeton University where won 7 IVY League Outdoor Championships, was ,All-American 3 times, and placed third in  2010 in the steeplechase at the NCAA Championships
After graduating from Princeton, she turned pro in 2012 and placed fourth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials in the 3000 meter steeplechase, and qualified for the 2013 World Championships in Athletics in the steeplechase by placing second at the US Championships.
In 2014, she was the 2nd ranked American steeplechaser by running a PR of 9:27.59 to earn a silver medal at the US Championships, won gold at the Pan Am Championships, went to Rutgers Law school while training for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials where she placed eighth in the steeplechase.

Nowadays she’s a lawyer and she lives in Morristown, NJ.

Mr. and Mrs. Forys, Accepting for Craig Forys

Craig was an absolute hammer on the track and on the trails, this stud from Colts Neck showed at an early age that he was destined to be a legend when he ran a then Holmdel Park freshman course record 16:21 in the fall of 2003, and then he turned the high school track and field world upside down when he smashed the national indoor freshman record in the 3,200 when he ran 9:20.59 to finish second at the 2004 state Group 3 indoor championships at Jadwin Gym in Princeton.

After placing second at the cross-country Meet of Champions as a sophomore and seventh In the 1,600 as a freshman at the 2004 outdoor M of C, he never lost another 1,600, 3,200 or cross-country race to NJ runner for the rest of his high school career.

During that span, he racked up 9 Meet of Champions titles in his career, which tied for the most in state history by a boy, won 12 Group titles on the track, also tied for the boys state record, broke course records at both Holmdel Park and Van Cortlandt Park, smashed the state record in the 2-mile, beat an Olympic gold medalist to win a national title, anchored the DMR team that won the 2005 Indoor National title. placed second at the Foot Locker NationaL Cross-Country Championships, and earned All-American honors 11 times

In the fall of 2006, he turned in one of the greatest cross-country seasons in state history, breaking course records on every course he ran on except one. At the Meet of Champions, he ran a then course record 15:16 to break Holmdel 18 year old course record when he won his second straight title.

Also that season, he won his race at the Manhattan Invitational in 12:10.7, a course record at the time on Van Cortlandt’s 2.5-mile layout, won the Foot Locker Northeast Regional, and was second at Foot Locker Nationals.

On the track, he racked up 7 Meet of Champions titles, three indoors and four outdoors, and in March of 2007 he won his first national title when he outkicked his nemesis and 2016 Olympic 1,500 gold medalist Matt Centrowitz to win the two-mile at the Nike Indoor Nationals in Maryland.

In the 2007 outdoor season, he became just the 2nd boy in state history to win the 1,600 and 3,200 at the same outdoor M of C when he won those races in 4:09.59 and a then meet record 8:52.58, and capped off his legendary high school career with a runner-up finish in the 2-mile at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in a then state record 8:44.53, taking nearly eight seconds off the 28-year-old state record.

After graduating from Colts Neck in 2007, he went on to become an multiple All-American at the University of Michigan where he won the Big Ten Steeplechase in 2012, placed 2nd in the steeplechase at the 2012 NCAA Championships, and he was eighth in the steeplechase at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

After graduating from Michigan, he ran professionally for Furman Elite and represented the US in the Edinburgh Games in Scotland, twice, won the NCAC Cross-Country title to lead Team USA to the 2013 team title in Jamaica, ran personal bests of 13:34.21 in the 5K, 8:24.09 in the steeplechase, 7:58.07 for 3K, 3:58.02 for the mile, and placed sixth in the steeplechase at the 2016 Olympic Trials.

In 2010, The Star-Ledger named him the NJ Cross-Country /Track Athlete of the Decade from 2000 – 2009 and the 5th best athlete of the decade of all NJ high school sports.

He’s now living and teaching Kindergarten in Charlotte, N.C.

Jordan Gray

Jordan is one of the best 400 hurdlers in Shore Conference and state history.
As a junior at Freehold Township in 1988 he won the 400 at the indoor Monmouth County and Shore Conference championships, and then outdoors he won the 400 hurdles at the Monmouth County and Shore Conference Championships before scoring the biggest win of his high school career when he ran a Personal best 52.54 to win the intermediate hurdles at the Meet of Champions
In 1989, he repeated as Shore Conference champion indoors in the 400 and outdoors in the 400 hurdles, and his time of 52.7 in the 400 hurdles still stands as the Monmouth County meet record.
After graduating from Freehold Township in 1989, he went on to a remarkable career at Ohio State.
As a Buckeye, he was a 3 time Big 10 Champion in the 400 hurdles, was a member of 3 Big 10 winning 4×4 relays, was named All-Big Ten First Team 4 times, was a 2-time First-Team All-American, placed second in the 400 hurdles at the 1993 NCAA Championships, qualified for the 1992 Olympic Trials in the 400 hurdles, and was chosen as a member of Ohio State’s All Century Team, which includes the legendary Jesse Owens !!!!

Charlie Speck

Charlie grew up in the Bronx and attended Fordham University, had a long and illustrious career at Southern Regional High School where he taught from 1973 through 2004.

A much beloved coach and Latin teacher, he served as head boys cross country coach, head boys and girls winter track coach, and assistant coach in boys and girls spring track at Southern for several years.

In addition to his coaching, he was a long time leader at both the Shore Conference and state levels.

He served as president of the Shore Conference Track Coaches Association twice for a total of 10 years. When pressed for his fondest memory, Charlie recalled the 2000 boys cross country team and especially runner Vinny Zarrillo.

That team exceeded all expectations in winning the Class A South Conference crown and taking the Ocean County Championship behind Vinny’s first place finish.  Following retirement in 2004 Charlie continued to serve as assistant cross country and boys track coach for several years. Charlie and his wife Irene now split their time between their Bayville home and Florida.

He also has spent time working with the New Jersey Charter School program and does workshops and mentoring for new teachers.

When asked what made him so special, current Ram coach Scott Baker said, “Charlie inspired athletes, students, and other coaches to become great by just being himself.”

Adam Keuhl

Adam put together one of the greatest resumes in Shore Conference and state history in the circle.

After placing second in the state Group 3 discus with a throw of 160-2 as a sophomore in 2000 to qualify for the Meet of Champions for the first time, this throwing star from Monmouth Regional kept getting better and better.

As a junior in 2001, he improved by nearly 40 feet in the discus when he shattered the 32-year old  Shore Conference record in the discus by nearly 10 feet when he unloaded a throw of 197-7. He went on to win the state Group 2 title and placed second in the discus at the Meet of Champions.

Between his junior and senior year he bulked up from 190 to 230 pounds, and the results were staggering.

As a senior he broke his own Shore Conference record in the discus several times, including a bomb of 209-0 at the Monmouth County Championships, which is No. 4 in state history. He also won the discus at the Penn Relays, finished first in the discus with a 198-0 and first in the shot put with a 61-4 1/4 at the state Group 3 meet, placed third in the discus and third in the shot put at the Meet of Champions, and placed fifth in the discus at the National Championships.

After graduating from Monmouth Regional in 2002, he went on to star at the University of Arizona.

As a Wildcat, he was a 5-time All-American (3 times in the discus and 2 times in the shot put), threw a school record 209-7 in the discus, he was the 2007 Pan-Am Games Silver medalist in the discus, and was 4th at the NCAA Championships in the discus and fourth at the US National Championships.

He produced several throws that ranked him the top 30 in the world from 2006-2009, and in 2008 he finished seventh at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the discus in 2008.