To these ends, we will develop structured training and meaningful race schedules for our members in all running venues: roads, cross-country, and track and field. Our fundraising efforts will enable us to provide guidance, equipment, and financial assistance to young runners in need.
The Garden State Track Club is a 501c3 non-profit organization that aims to serve all levels of runners in New Jersey. Our goal is to provide direction for runners of all levels and to foster the future of New Jersey running by providing support to underprivileged youth runners throughout the state.
In 2010, Chuck Schneekloth returned to New Jersey after ten years on the West Coast. After numerous years racing for West Valley TC (San Francisco) and Northwest AC (Portland), he looked for something similar in NJ.
Realizing most local teams were geared toward masters runners, he called his former Rutgers teammate, Chris Tafelski. They agreed the state, known for its competitive running, needed a club geared toward a younger, faster demographic.
After bringing in friends Steve Bonica, Alex Fowlie, Amy Porpora, and Cathy Stutzman for help, they settled on a name (Jersey Track Club was a close second), logo (team colors were almost green and yellow), mission statement, and set the first team run to be Sunday, October 3, 2010. With only nine people on the email thread, just three people showed up.
In January of 2011, two major events happened. First, superstar Metuchen HS/Seton Hall sprinter Tyrone Ross emailed the club, asking to start up a sprint group; Schneekloth, his former high school teammate, agreed to coach it. Ross also introduced the club to his former Georgia Tech teammate Bryan Swarn, the CEO of Phenetix, who has consequently designed all GSTC gear from his labs in Atlanta.
Second, the club recruited a critical mass of Rutgers students (Dan Teichmann, Mike Obsuth, Kyle Flyer, and Zach Spiegel) from the Big Chill 5k. The group began training together with New Brunswick High School students Edsel Flores and Hedolis Jaquez. A month later, the original gold uniforms were first worn at the now-defunct PCRC Winter Series in Wayne, NJ. Jaquez won the four-race series by over a minute, the club’s first individual gold medal.
In April, Jeff Perrella, Jaquez, Mike Anis, Tafelski, and Iuri Pinto teamed up to win the now-defunct Penn Relays Distance Classic, the club’s first team crown. Perrella won the race, which started and finished at Penn’s historic Franklin Field, unknowingly in a women’s uniform. On June 20th, he also won the President’s Cup 5k (in a men’s uniform), the club’s first USATF-NJ individual title, as Taylor Burmeister, Tim Morgan, Anis, and Ashwin Anantharaman joined him for the team’s first USATF-NJ team title.
In 2012, they grew a lot, won a lot of stuff, and invented the infamous “Tim Morgan Award,” presented in the team’s weekly email for members who made bonehead decisions that week. Veteran members fear the “TMA” and do everything they can to avoid landing in the section of the weekly missive, although many admit it’s the first section they read. It is now known as the “Totally Misunderstood Award.”
In the spring of 2013, the USA Track and Field designated the GSTC as one of 23 Elite Development Clubs in the country. On June 29th, 2013, the club won its first national title at the USATF Club National Track and Field Championships at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, NYC. By year’s end, they won the USATF-NJ Overall Grand Prix Championship with an association record 521 total team points.
In January of 2014, the club signed a three-year deal with Adidas and Global Athletics. There were three goals: support the elite runners and leadership members of the club, support the Adidas Diamond League Grand Prix, and support the Adidas brand within the tri-state area.
Shortly thereafter, the Vietnamese Olympic Embassy selected the club to train their national 4×400 relay team of Quach Thi Lan, Nguyen Thi Huyen, Nguyen Thi Oahn, and Nguyen Thi Thuy. In their final race leading up to the 2014 Asian Games, the quartet broke the Swarthmore 4×400 Meet Record in 3:41.87.
Along with winning its second USATF-NJ Overall Grand Prix Championship that year, the team had an exceptional showing at club nationals in Bethlehem. They broke six USATF records: most scored teams (10), most scored open women’s teams (3), most scored open men’s teams (5), most open men finishers (32), most open women finishers (18), and most overall finishers (66). The masters women finished 4th in America–still the best team performance of any aGSTC team.
In 2015, the club swelled to over one thousand members. This enabled another easy win in the 2015 USATF-NJ Overall Team Grand Prix, as the club broke the association’s all-time points record for the third year in a row. Both the men’s and women’s 40’s teams finished second overall.
This year also saw the team win their first Millrose Games gold medal, as the relay of Isaiah Gill, Jamal Roberts, Tyrone Ross, and Dylan Lowry dominated the sprint medley relay. This inspired two articles about the club on RunBlogRun here and here.
Later that track season, Christina Epps won the 2015 USA National Title in the triple jump, allowing her the opportunity to compete at the World Championships for Team USA. Masters athlete Anselm LeBourne won two world championships, in the 800m and 1500m, at Lyon, France. Along with breaking two world and three American records, the USATF selected him the Masters Athlete of the Year.
In December, the men’s distance crew finished an impressive 7th at the USA Club National Championships in San Francisco. Alfredo Santana and Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier Matt Gillette helped the group with its highest team finish in club history.
The Millrose Games foreshadowed a big year in 2016, as both the men (9:49.30) and women (11:37.66) won the distance medley relays. A month later, Epps won a second US triple jump title, this one indoors, and she competed in the World Indoor Championships a second time.
On June 25th, the club swept all three national club titles on the track: men, women, and combined. It was the first time the club competed in the meet since winning the men’s title in 2013, and meet officials voted Alfredo Santana as the men’s Athlete of the Meet after winning the 1500m and 5000m.
The next month, twelve athletes competed in the Olympic Trials. They included Christina Epps (2nd/TJ), Amina Smith (4th/HJ), Tim VanLiew (7th/jav), Ronald Woodley (13th/TJ), Tyler Williams (17th/Hammer), Jessie Gaines (20th/LJ), Lisa Barber (24th/100m), Latosha Wallace (23rd/400IH), Kelsay Hay (24th/Jav), Miki Barber (33rd/100m), Carmen Graves (35th/steeple). Epps later finished 15th in the Olympic Games; fellow aGSTC teammate Stephen Mozia finished 28th in the shot put for Nigeria.
Later that summer, the club announced its Youth Outreach Program, Essays for Equipment, was now extending to three schools for low-income youth runners: Columbia HS, St. Benedict’s Prep, and Newark Central HS.