If personal-best performances posted from the Brick City Invitational track meet seemed too good to be true it's because they were falsified. The May 20 gathering of high schools never happened, despite results appearing in the online database NJ MileSplit.
At least six teams were listed as participating in the meet, but athletics officials for some of those teams said that not only did they not participate, they had not heard of the Brick City Invitational.
The phantom meet was purportedly hosted by the Newark Flames Track Club, which claimed participants had achieved times and marks in their respective events that easily eclipsed what those athletes had achieved in reality. In some cases, the marks would have qualified the athletes to participate in next month's New Balance Nationals, the championship meet for elite high school track athletes across the country. In at least once case, an athlete's triple jump mark attributed to the Brick City Invitational was worse than his personal best by more than two feet.
"I'm livid because my son was one of those boys whose marks were posted when they didn't happen,'' Glenda Waxter, a certified track and field official both for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and USA Track & Field, told northjersey.com Tuesday. "He worked very hard to achieve what he's already achieved and he wants no part of what they tried to pull.''
NJSIAA executive director Larry White was informed of the fake meet results Tuesday, and their creator later recanted.
"Good morning my name is Coach Johnson, I am the track coach and CEO of Newark Flames Track Club," Cory Johnson said in an email to Robert Kellert, editor for NJ MileSplit. "I am writing to say I apologize for the incident of the falsified meet that was supposedly held on May 20, 2018, at Newark School Stadium."
Newark Flames co-founder Eddie Greene, who is also the head track and field coach at West Side High School, denied any involvement in the meet, confirming that none of his school's athletes participated. In fact, Greene was at his son's college graduation in Atlanta the day the meet allegedly took place. Other coaches whose athletes were listed as having participated testified that they hadn't. One school was even hosting its own meet that day.
"I spoke to the guy," Greene said of Johnson, as reported by northjersey.com. "He apologized to me. He said there was no ill will or to get me or any other team in trouble."
"I really didn't know it would cause them problems, as I never coached high school track and field," Johnson said in the email. "Once again, I truly apologize for the chaos that I have caused."
Another red flag that results were falsified involved the times including hundredths of a second, normally reflecting the use of automated timing and not the hand-timed approach the meet claimed to employ. When NJ MileSplit's Kellert questioned the extra digit, it was simply dropped in a subsequent results submission.
"The attempt to submit fictitious information is both unacceptable and unsportsmanlike," NJSIAA's White stated in an email, noting the NJSIAA investigation is ongoing and independent of the NJ MileSplit investigation, which is looking into whether the 2017 iteration of the Brick City Invitational ever took place. "We're thankful the various checks in the system helped maintain the integrity of the database."