Nick Mirabelli is one of the best javelin throwers in South Jersey history.
He’s a two-time state champion. He’s excelled on the national stage.
He’s made his mark at the Penn Relays. He’s regularly unleashed throws that have sailed past 200 feet.
Mirabelli would seem to have nothing left to prove in the final competition of his high school career.
Except he doesn’t see it that way.
Mirabelli, a senior at Rancocas Valley, is taking the opposite approach to Saturday’s Meet of Champions at Northern Burlington County High School.
“Redemption,” Mirabelli said of his motivation for his last official competition for the Red Devils.
Mirabelli probably has been the best javelin thrower in the state the last two track seasons. He’s won back-to-back Group 4 state titles, with the longest throws in the group meets in both of those years.
But there’s one thing Mirabelli has not done: Seize the moment at the Meet of Champions.
He was the No. 1 seed entering the competition last season, but didn’t make it to the finals after three uncharacteristically poor throws in his flight.
“I ended up failing miserably,” Mirabelli said. “I was torn down. I went to the car and honestly, I cried. I cried a little bit.
“I was the No. 1 seed. That brought me to tears.”
Rancocas Valley coach Jeff Dzuranin said Mirabelli has used the disappointment of that final meet his junior season as motivation for a record-setting senior year.
“That really hurt him and really led him to start preparing for success in a much better way than he had in the past,” Dzuranin said. “Lots of kids expect success. But Nick understands how to prepare for success.
“He prepares like a professional athlete in terms of sleep, what he eats, his training, the things he does to prevent injuries.”
Mirabelli, a Texas A&M recruit, has fashioned a fabulous senior season. He started with a bang, setting a personal record with a throw of 220 feet, 10 inches, the fourth best throw in state history, at the Rebel Relays on March 31 at Howell.
He was the Field Athlete of the Meet at the Woodbury Relays. He won the South Jersey Group 4 title with a toss of 209-2, the best in any sectional meet. He won the Group 4 state title last weekend with a 218-11, a meet record.
“What’s really commendable about Nick is that he’s really done a great job throwing the discus this year,” Dzuranin said. “As good as he is, he’s a complete team player. He’s going to college to throw the javelin. But he knew we could use the points if he threw the discus and his No. 1 thing is always, ‘What do we need as a team?’
“If he’s not throwing, he’s the first guy over watching and cheering for the guys on the track. He’s the first guy over watching the jumps.”
Mirabelli said he decided on Texas A&M over Rutgers, in part, to create a little separation between his own legacy and that of his brother Chris, now a Scarlet Knights senior.
“I thought I can go to the same place as brother and maybe do better,” Mirabelli said. “Or I can go far, create my own path and legacy.”
One of Mirabelli’s top goals in high school was to top the high school mark of 216-6 set by his brother Chris during his days at Holy Cross. Chris Mirabelli holds the Rutgers school record with a 251-6 throw at the 2017 Penn Relays.
“That was one of my big goals,” Nick Mirabelli said of bettering his brother’s high school best.
Mirabelli has one goal left. He wants to win the Meet of Champions, while also taking a crack at former Florence star Curtis Thompson’s state record mark of 224-10, set in 2014.
“I’m a lot more motivated and driven than I normally would be after what happened last year,” Mirabelli said. “I want to not just win. I want to get the state record.”
Track and Field Meet of Champions
Saturday, 2 p.m., Northern Burlington County High School
South Jersey Athletes to Watch
James Beasley, Sterling junior: He’s the third seed in the 200 at 21.69.
Khaliel Burnett, Delsea senior: He’s the defending champion and top seed in the triple jump after setting the state record of 50-9 ¼ in the state meet and also the fourth seed in the long jump at 23-0.
Charles Fields, Wildwood Catholic senior: He’s the fifth seed in the 100 at 10.82 and the sixth seed in the 200 at 21.76.
Sahmir Jones, Pleasantville junior: He’s a runner to watch in the 100 after winning the Group 2 state meet in 10.90.
Kam Kobolak, Cinnaminson senior: He’s the second seed in the discus at 173-03 and the third seed in the shot at 60-9.
Derek Gess, Haddonfield junior: He’s a runner to watch in the 1600 after setting a PR with 4:15.52 in the state meet.
Sincere Rhea, St. Augustine junior: He’s the third seed in the high hurdles with 14.03.
Antonio Tarantino, Paul VI senior: He’s the No. 1 seed in the 200 with 21.32.
Ben Woodward, Highland senior: He’s another runner to watch in what should be a crowded 1600 after setting a PR with a 4:15.62.
Jewell Ash, Eastern sophomore: She’s the No. 3 seed in the intermediate hurdles with 1:01.71.
Shakira Dancy, Winslow Township senior: She’s the No. 2 seed in the 100 at 11.98 and the No. 4 in the 200 at 24.33.
Alexa Gardner, Hammonton senior: She’s the No. 4 seed in the javelin at 135-07.
Aliya Rae Garozzo, Paul VI sophomore: She’s the No. 2 seed in the intermediate hurdles with 1:01.46.
Tiarra Hooker, Timber Creek sophomore: She’s the No. 3 seed in the high jump at 5-6 and the No. 4 in the long jump at 18-11.
Denisha Page, Woodrow Wilson junior: She’s a runner to watch in both the 100 with 12.04 and the 200 with 24.55.
Lauren Princz, Egg Harbor Township freshman: She’s the top seed in the 200 at 24.00 and the No. 4 seed in the 100 at 12.03.
Brielle Smith, Oakcrest junior: She’s the No. 1 seed in the javelin at 139-06.
Aliyah Taylor, Rancocas Valley senior: She’s the No. 2 seed in the 400 at 55.28.
Cydney Thomas, Haddon Heights sophomore: She’s the No. 3 seed in the discus with 124-07.
Zyra Thomas, Schalick senior: She’s the No. 3 seed in the shot with 42-3 ¾.
Tionna Tobias, Winslow Township junior: She’s the No. 1 seed in the long jump at 19-11 ½ and the No. 4 in the high hurdles at 14.07.
Shelby Whetstone, Lenape junior: She’s the No. 4 seed in the 400 at 55.69.