Broken Records And Distance Sweeps Rule At Union Meet

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It sure didn't take long for sparks to start flying during an electrifying opening day at the Union County Championships on Tuesday at the Milt Campbell Track and Field Complex at historic Hub Stine Field in Plainfield.

The top runners in the county left lots of smoke on the track on a hot day, especially in the girls 100-meter dash where the meet record went down twice and the overall county record was broken as teammates Taylor Cox and Taylor Aska of Union Catholic took turns making history as they became the two fastest sprinters in meet history!!!

Aska, a junior, dropped the first bomb when she ran 11.70 in the trials to break the meet record of 11.80 that Cox ran last year and equal the county record of 11.70 that Christiana Nwachuku of Kent Place ran in 2022.

About a half hour later, Cox, also a junior, knocked Aska and Nwachuku out of the record books by becoming the fastest girl in county history with a Union County record and NJ No. 3 time of 11.66!!! Aska was second in the final in 11.76. So Cox and Aska now have run the two fastest time in Union County history. 

Watch Cox's historic 100 and an interview with her in the video below -


On the leaderboard after Day One, the Union Catholic girls, bidding for a ninth straight title, and the Union Catholic boys, seeking a fourth straight championship, are both in the lead. 

The Union Catholic girls, who lead Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 95-31.50, won all three events on the track, including a 1-2-3 finish in the 1,600, and broke two meet records. They are a virtual lock to continue their stranglehold on the title. On the boys side, UC holds a 69-42 lead over Westfield after day one. 

The second and final day of competition is scheduled to begin on Wednesday at 4 p.m.


In a very rare and impressive occurence, both 1,600 races featured team sweeps.

Union Catholic, ignited by Paige Sheppard's meet record 4:52.38 went 1-2-3 in the girls 1,600. Sophia Thompson was second in 4:57.92, and Kayla Devine was third in 5:00.49. Sheppard, Thompson and Devine are all freshmen!!!

Westfield pulled off the same trifecta in the boys 1,600 as senior Avery Keith (4:12.96), junior Ryan Daly (4:13.12) and senior Alexander Valencia (4:15.38) all ran PR's to finish 1-2-3.

Defending champion Jimmy Wischusen of Union Catholic didn't race due to illness.     


A pair of freshmen, Reagan Moore of Oak Knoll, and Sydney Chadwick of Union Catholic, continued their remarkable rookie seasons.

Moore, who was a miler in eighth grade, made a huge surge at the 200 mark on her way to victory in the girls 400 in 55.70, just off her PR of 55.61 Moore, a soccer player, has opened lots of eyes with her ridiculous range. She's also run 2:12.63 in the 800 and 5:07.19 in the 1,600! No one else in the state (as of this writing) has gone sub 56/sub 2:13 and sub 5:08 this season? And there aren't many runners in state history who have done it. The first runner that comes to mind is 2-time Olympian Ajee' Wilson of Neptune. She went 54.04, 2:00.91, and 4:43.92 in high school. I'm pretty sure the last runner to pull of that triple was Peyton Hollis of UC, who was third in the 400 on Tuesday. Hollis ran 55.81, 2:06.42, and 4:49.88 in 2022!!!   

Chadwick, who never competed in the 400 hurdles until this season, ran a PR and NJ No. 8 time of 1:02.29 to win that race. When she fine tunes her form, Chadwick should make a run at sub 60.


Arthur Hrycak has been waiting all season for everything to come together in the circle.

It all finally clicked for the junior at Cranford when he unloaded several big PR's, highlighted by a massive PR of 159-5 to win the boys discus. Hrycak's previous best was 146-6. He had three throws over 156 on Tuesday!!!

Hrycak just missed the Cranford school record of 160-5 set way back in 1969 by Mark Nordstrom. I'd be shocked if Hrycak's doesn't smash that this season!  


Dylan Williams, who has been through a lot of adversity during is career at Union Catholic, is a picture of perseverance!!  Several injuries have sidelined Williams, but he never gave up on himself and kept battling back, knowing that if he could get healthy he could finish his senior season with a bang!

He was right!!

Williams, who has been healthy this season, showed the rest of the county that he's the top dog in the 100 dash when he used a rocket start and a powerful finishing gear to win his first county title with a PR of 10.86.     


Darvens Tunis, who has been very close multiple times to winning a big title in the high jump, felt like it was a just a matter of time before he finally made a major breakthrough. 

The senior at Hillside finally got that elusive title when he matched his PR of 6-2 to win the high jump on misses over Anthony Flowers of Brearley. Tunis, Hillside's first county champ in several years, finished second to Flowers at the Union County Conference Championships last week.


The biggest point producer of the day was Union Catholic's Justice Hicks.

The FDU-bound Hicks racked up 20 points by winning the long jump with a huge PR of 23-0 (his previous best was 22-0), placing fourth in the high jump with a PR matching 6-0, and he finished third in the 400 hurdles in 57.08.   


Senior Meghan Kreinberg of Dayton won her second straight title in the girls shot put with a 38-8. Kreinberg has now captured three county titles in her career. She also won the shot put at the indoor county championships this past winter. 

That's not all.

As great as Kreinberg is in the shot put, her greatest attribute is her amazing versatility. She's also cleared 5-2 in the high jump this season, which makes her  a contender to win the high jump on Wednesday!! That would an amazing double! Who has ever won the HJ and the shot put at any county championship meet!!! I can't think of anyone and I've been around a long time!  


Saniyah Evans, a senior at Rahway, soared to a PR and school record 38-2.25 to win the girls triple jump. Evans, competing in the event for just the third time ever, has now won 3 county titles in her remarkable career. Shel also finished first in the long jump and the 55 hurdles at the indoor county championships this past winter. Evans will seek her fourth county crown when she  defends her long jump championships on Wednesday. 

Senior Sarah Sicoli of Scotch Plains-Fanwood matched her PR when she cleared 10-6 to win the pole vault on misses. She also won the pole vault at the county championships this past winter. Sicoli, who missed a big chunk of her outdoor season last year with an injury, has raised her PR by 18 inches since last year!!! 

Junior Avery Atexide of Union Catholic dominated the boys 400, winning the one-lapper by 20 meters with a time of 48.19, not far off the meet record of 47.7 set by Ray Williams in 2002.

Westfield's Emanuel Gayanilo, who is headed to the University of Pittsburgh, won his first county title when he ran 53.90 to capture the boys 400 hurdle title.

New Providence junior Sofia Espaillat unloaded a monster PR of 129-0 to win the girls javelin. Espaillat, who has improved in every meet this season, came into the meet with a PR of 115-5.