The North Jersey Report- Week 2
By: Matthew Murphy
Hackensack Impresses, Traub torches Darlington
With many North Jersey teams attending various invitationals around the state and even some going out of state, the ones that stayed close to home produced the most impressive results at the Season Opener Invitational on Friday at Darlington Park. The Hackensack boys’ team made a statement on the fast 3.1 mile layout, announcing themselves as a group 4 threat with a dominating victory in the A race. Meanwhile, Eastern Christian star Kristen Traub opened her season in blazing style, blowing away the field for an easy win in the girls B race.
Hackensack entered the season ranked highly among Bergen County boys teams, but the Comets have not had the same type of success as other powers like Don Bosco and Ridgewood have in recent seasons. They came out on fire on a cool day at Darlington, and now may be ready to contend for a county championship this fall. Hackensack put all seven of its varsity runners under 17 minutes on the fast course, and had its top five finish among the first nine finishers to thoroughly defeat a very good Wayne Hiils team Hillsteam, 32-84. Senior John Pujols led the Comets with a 3rd place finish in a solid 16:07, while junior Angel Uzhca and seniors Carlos Coronado and Cosmo Nardozza finished 6th, 8th and 9th respectively.
With a tougher than expected first race, Pascack Valley’s Ben Malone took gold in the A race in a fast early season time of 15:52. He was pushed the entire way by Wallington’s one man Cross-Country team Domenic D’Agostino, who finished close on Malone’s heels in 15:56, a big personal best. It was a potential break-through race for D’Agostino, who should contend for a Group 1 title if he stays healthy. Meanwhile, Indian Hills showed resiliency in taking the boys B race, putting three runners under 17 minutes for a 43-60 win over Ridgefield Park. The Braves, who graduated 4 of their top 5 runners from last season, were led by race winner Scott Savage and looked dangerous again considering Bobby Corcoran, who won the Sophomore boys race, also finished sub-17. Lyndhurst began the post Patrick Rono era with a solid victory in the boys C race, holding off runner-up Glen Rock behind a first place finish from Daniel Gaspar.
Traub began her final Cross-Country season by stepping on the gas, which resulted in a 90 second victory over Ramapo’s Deanna DiLandro and a sizzling time of 18:18. The senior finished just four seconds off her personal best, as she began her campaign to become the third girl to run under 18 minutes at Darlington. Traub led her Eastern Christian teammates to a convincing win over Indian Hills, as they packed four runners between the 8th and 13th places. Ashley Strysko had the second fastest time of the day in 19:28 as she powered her Holy Angels team to a tough 60-71 win over Wayne Hills in girls A. Girls C winner Elizabeth O’Brien of Bogota also crossed the line with a sub-20 time of 19:46
Other action around the state was highlighted by Immaculate Heart Academy’s 5th place finish in the girls’ senior race at the Bernie Magee class meet at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth. The Eagles were paced by Rachel Lotterman, who snuck into the top 10 with a fine 9th place result. However, it was a couple of North Jersey teams who traveled into New York State who really made noise. The Ramsey Boys traveled to Anthony Wayne State Park to defend their Championship at the Red Raider Invitational. With one varsity race this year on an altered course, the Rams finished second to New York power and host North Rockland. Seniors Erik Buser and Chris Eltringham were 2nd and 3rd in the race, with times just over the 17 minute mark. Dan Dugan also ran sub 18 for an 18th place finish, and Ramsey runners went 21-23-24 to wrap up the silver medal. On the girls side, Northern Highlands completed a respectable 3rd place effort behind New York strongholds Valley Central and Monroe Woodbury. The North sisters, junior Ariana and freshman Karina, finished 9th and 10th respectively to lead the Highlanders, while Alexandra Abitante and Anna Richard also finished in the top 20.