“We were always the bridesmaids,” Hogan said. “We would never be able to field a complete team, enough to score in every event. We came close a couple times, but the chances don’t come along often when you have all the necessary pieces. We don’t have a big team, but we had all the right pieces. I knew we had a good chance. We could see it and we wanted it.”
Sure enough, the Cougars put together a fine performance and finally captured the HCTCA team title, one that had been eluding the program since 1999.
“We had a fantastic meet,” Hogan said, after his Cougars held off perennial favorite St. Dominic Academy and Kearny to win the team crown. “It was just one of those days when everything went right and a lot of kids had their career bests. It’s nice to finally get the monkey off our backs.”
Morgan Spann won both the 100 and 200-meter dashes, finished second in the 400-meter run and fourth in the triple jump to lead the way for the Cougars. It meant that Spann collected a total of 32 points on her own.
Amira Dardir won the high jump, finished second in the long jump and finished second in both hurdles races. She collected a total of 34 team points, doing a little better than Spann.
“She’s the heart and soul of this team,” Hogan said of Dardir, who is headed to Stevens Tech to compete in track in the fall. “She’s a tough competitor. She was icing her quads and shins after the meet, but she was out there. It meant a lot to her as a senior to get a chance to win the county meet, to go out on top.”
Sophia Anthony was third in the 100-meter dash, fifth in the 200-meter dash and third in the 800-meter run.
Jessica Melendez set new personal bests in the 200 and 400, finishing fourth in both races. Mercedes Rojas earned two medals. It was a total team effort.
“It was just one of those days where everything that could happen happened good,” Hogan said.
The boys’ title went to St. Peter’s Prep, who outdistanced runner-up North Bergen and three-time defending champion Dickinson. It was the first time in over a decade that the Marauders won the team crown.
“It has been a long time,” veteran Prep head coach Mike Burgess said. “We would get close, but always lose out. Someone would get hurt or something would go wrong. But this time, it all worked in our favor. It had been a while, but this was a great team performance. We have a very young squad. It’s an honor to beat Dickinson. They had been on top for a lot of years.”
There is a perception that the Marauders simply have state 400-meter champ Najee Glass and not much else. This performance destroys that myth.
“People think that Najee is the entire team,” Burgess said. “He’s a rare athlete and one of the best, but it’s not all him. You saw the character of the team here.”
Glass definitely had his hand in helping the Marauders win the team crown, capturing both the 200-meter dash and 400-meter run gold medals, the latter setting a new meet record in 47.6 seconds, three seconds better than the rest of the field.
But there were other solid contributions, like freshman Jonathan Hilliman, who won the 100-meter dash in 11.1 seconds. He was second in the long jump and finished fourth in the 200-meter dash. Doug Payne was fourth in the 110-meter high hurdles and sixth in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. Tyrell Gibbs won medals in the 400-meter run and 400-meter hurdles. Kevin Garrigan won the 1,600-meter run and Charlie Bates won the 3,200-meter run. Bates also finished second in the 1,600-meter run. Nate Hilliman won the triple jump. Again, it was a true team effort.
“The three seniors, Bates, Payne and Garrigan, really came through for us,” Burgess said. “It was really a chance to showcase our talent.”
But the real talent showcase belonged to one individual, namely Dickinson senior Jose Veras, who never ceases to amaze every time he takes the track.
Veras merely won four events, the 110-meter high hurdles, the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, the 800-meter run, and the high jump. He set new meet records in three of the events, winning the high hurdles in 14.5, winning the intermediate hurdles in 54.4 and winning the 800 in 1:55.7. His high jump height was 6-6, which is nothing to sneeze at either.
Veras continues to carve his niche as one of the greatest all-around performers in Hudson County track and field history.
“I’ve been coaching 37 years and I’ve never saw an athlete like that,” Burgess said.
It’s truly amazing to watch Veras and his immense talent and versatility…
North Bergen football standout Vinnie Ascolese, the grandson of the legendary coach, received his first two Division I scholarship offers last week from the University of Illinois and the University of Buffalo. The top-flight linebacker is bound to get several more as the recruiting process kicks in…
Prayers go out to former long-time Dickinson athletic director Roddy Maffia, who is under the weather. “Maff” was a well loved figure during his tenure on the hill at Dickinson and he deserves our love and concern in this tough time…
It might have been lost in the shuffle a little, but congrats to Ferris’ softball team for upsetting Hoboken in the quarterfinals of the Hudson County softball tournament last week. It was the biggest win in the history of the Bulldogs’ softball program. Head coach Mike Palughi has really turned that program around…
On a personal note, it’s a great gesture that the Jersey City Board of Education has decided to rename P.S. 17 in honor of fallen Jersey City Police Detective Marc DiNardo, who was killed in the line of duty nearly two years ago. It’s a great way to forever remember DiNardo, a former hockey goalkeeper at Hudson Catholic during his playing days, and his bravery on duty…
Now, we need the Jersey City Board of Education to do another solid and rename the Caven Point Athletic Complex in the memory of the late Jersey City baseball guru Ed “The Faa” Ford…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Baseball Top Five: 1. Union City (17-7) 2. Hoboken (12-9) 3. Memorial (14-8) 4. North Bergen (14-8) 5. St. Peter’s Prep (15-6)…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Softball Top Five: 1. North Bergen (21-1). 2. Union City (16-5). 3. Ferris (12-9). 4. Secaucus (16-6) 5. St. Dominic Academy (11-9)….— Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.