There’s cutting it close.
And then there’s the razor-thin margin of victory for Cameron Kee and the Haddon Heights High School boys’ track and field team last weekend at the South Jersey Group 1 championships.
A multi-event standout best known as a hurdler, Kee won the open 400 meters in a personal best time of 50.58 seconds.
Clayton’s Dazhaun Walton was second in 50.59 seconds.
That one-hundredth of a second was the difference in the team portion of the meet, as Haddon Heights edged Clayton, 82-80, for the top spot in the competition at Washington Township High School.
“I watched a video and you can see how close it was,” Kee said. “Depending on your perspective, it looks like I was either first, second or third.
“When I realized that, I was like, ‘Wow.’ ”
The race was so close that Haddon Heights coaches weren’t even sure that Kee had taken first place, securing the 10 points that would be crucial in the team’s victory.
“We didn’t even know he won until about 45 minutes after the race when we got the official results,” Haddon Heights coach Andrew Whitman said. “We were walking around, thinking he was second.”
Kee’s heroics were only fitting, according to the coach, since the effervescent junior has been front and center during the Garnets’ re-emergence as a small-school power this season.
At the sectional meet, Kee won both the open 400 and the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (56.11) on Friday night. He took second in the 110 high hurdles (15.39) and ran the anchor leg on the 4×400-relay that finished fourth (3:30.47) on Saturday.
“I was proud because I think I was able to show my versatility,” said Kee, who will lead the Garnets in pursuit of the Group 1 state title this weekend at Franklin High School in Somerset County. “I showed I’m not just a hurdler. I’m not just a sprinter. I can help the team in a lot of ways.”
Kee was introduced to the sport as a member of the Lawnside Lightning, a top AAU program. He called himself a “lab rat” as a 5-foot-3 freshman, trying every event from the high jump to the hurdles.
He has developed into a top hurdler, specializing in the intermediates. He went a personal-best 55.94 seconds in the demanding event at the Camden County meet May 12.
Kee also has been instrumental in the development of sophomore Te-Sean Pressley, who took third in the high hurdles (15.46) and fourth in the intermediates (57.14) at the sectional meet.
“The way he’s worked with Te-Sean, day in and day out, has made so much difference,” Whitman said.
Whitman said Kee is a loquacious team leader whose voice tends to serve as the soundtrack to Garnets practice sessions and meets.
“He’s the loudest kid you’d ever want to meet and I mean that in the best way possible,” Whitman said. “He’s always making sure everybody is up, doing the right thing, focused on the team.
“He makes life easy for the coaches by setting the tone.”
Kee said it’s his nature to be talkative.
“If you catch me being quiet, it’s a rare day,” Kee said. “I’ve never had a problem communicating. I’ve tried to channel that into being a leader and helping my team.”
State Track and Field Championships
Friday at 2:30 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m.
At Franklin High School
Groups 4, 1 and Non-Public A
At Central Regional
Groups 3, 2 and Non-Public B