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.
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 GSTC 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.
In 2017, the GSTC returned to the Millrose Games and won the men’s DMR and women’s 4×200 relays. In the latter, Miki Barber, Lisa Barber, Jessie Gaines, and Mariah Toussaint teamed up to break the Millrose Games record–a GSTC first. Later that spring, Tyrone Ross won the 400m 35-39 national title in New Orleans- the first one in GSTC history.
Two new, major initiatives started this year for the club. The first was hosting the Garden State 10, a collaboration between the Franklin Police Department and the Cancer Call Out. The second was the GSTC Youth Team, a group that now began meeting consistently thanks to the leadership of Nimesh and Rekha Trivedi. Meanwhile on the roads, the distance crew had another great year, winning another USATF-NJ Overall Grand Prix title. Lead by superstar and Olympic Trials qualifier Josh Izewski, who rewrote the entire club record book, the men finished 9th overall at the USATF Club XC National Championships in Lexington, KY.
In January of 2018, the club announced it had a new sponsor and thus a new club name: GSTC- New Balance. Within the first few months, the club had two new major milestones. On Saturday, January 13th, Alfredo Santana ran 3:59.07 at Ocean Breeze, becoming the first sub-4:00 miler in club history. A few weeks later, down in Tallahassee, the masters squad of Elliott Frieder, Jonathan Frieder, Sam Teigen, Chuck Schneekloth, Aaron Cooper, and Thom Knowles won the USATF 8k XC 40s national team title- also a first in club history.
The club, once again, won the USATF-NJ Grand Prix with an association record 1,030 team points; the second place team was a distant 300 points behind. The M40s team also repeated their USATF Grand Prix national team title, winning it in dramatic fashion in the last event of the series, the Tulsa 15k, thanks to efforts by Jonathan Frieder, Elliott Frieder, and Shawn Williams. Months prior, Chuck Schneekloth won the Masters Road Mile by .04 in Flint, MI., the club’s first ever individual road national title, helping the M40s squad inch closer to surpassing the Atlanta Track Club in the team standings.
At the US Championships, Olivia Baker ran 2:00.94 for fourth in the 800m, edging out future Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu. Robert Downs also made the final, running a club record 1:46.46 to finish 8th overall. Later that summer, Eric Holt won the Monmouth Mile in 3:58.88, making him the second GSTC athlete to break 4:00 in the mile.
2019 was the best year for the men’s sprint squad. James Bias, Talyn Washington, Robert Moise, and Jovanni Parkinson won first-ever gold medals for the club in the 4×200 at Millrose and the 4×100 Olympic Development at Penn Relays.
At year’s end, some open men expressed an interest in creating their own racing team. After weeks of discussion, brokered by former VP Ken Goglas, agreements were finally settled at a coffee shop in North Jersey in late December.
Before COVID arrived in March, the DMR squad of Ryan McGorty, Jimmy Martinez, Hazem Miawad, and Jack Pinho won gold at Millrose Games with a club record 9:48.58. An hour later, the women’s 4×200 of Asha Ruth, Gabrielle Farquharson, Rebecca Ochan, and Haisha Bisiolu shattered the Millrose Games record with a blazing 1:37.86 victory.
Later in February, four GSTC women competed at the Marathon Olympic Trials: Laura Cummings, Shelby Goose, Niky Mateescu, and Alexandra Niles. Months later, while racing was shut down, the USATF-NJ and GSTC agreed to make a greater effort to work together after years of challenging discourse.
That fall, the club organized a nation-wide virtual club contest called the Quarantine Games. Other clubs that competed were West Valley TC, Cal Coast, Atlanta TC, Boulder TC, Georgetown RC, Red Cedar RC, LR Nebraska, Kansas City Smoke, and GVH. In addition, the club hosted five high school “showcase” meets for distance athletes along the East Coast. This led to numerous school, county, and state records as elite high schoolers flocked to Thomas Edison Park to get FAT times after losing an entire spring season of track. The club also hosted the inaugural East Coast XC Championships at Holmdel Park, attracting some of the best teams in the region.
Although no road races took place in the spring, the club hosted seven track meets for youth, high schoolers, collegiate, and post-collegiate athletes. Like the fall, it required some strategic planning that many school and universities weren’t able or willing to do.
When racing returned in the summer, the club opted, for the second time in ten years, to not participate in the USATF-NJ Grand Prix. Instead, the team selected strategic races to participate and win handedly: Lager Run, Asbury Park, and Ashenfelter. In addition, three club members won big races: Stephen Rathbun (Boilermaker 15k), Christine Licata (W40s 800m national title), and Chuck Schneekloth (Brooklyn Mile). The club later competed in the USATF Club XC Championships in Tallahassee and landed three teams on the podium: M50s (2nd), W40s (2nd), and W50s (3rd).