On another day, Danny Rondon might have been upset that he lost a lead in the final 600 yards of a cross-country race and had to settle for second best.
But last Saturday represented more than just a silver medal for the talented North Bergen senior runner. It was a return to glory.
Rondon returned to action at the Passaic County Coaches Invitational at Garret Mountain in Woodland Park (formerly known as West Paterson) after missing the last nine months of action with a stress fracture to his foot.
Rondon missed most of the indoor track season and then all of the outdoor campaign due to the injury.
Now finally healthy once again, Rondon made a solid return in the Varsity Group 4 event, finishing the tough Garret Mountain course in 16:22, just three seconds behind winner Joel Douglas of Hackensack.
And Rondon had a lead on Douglas as they made their way toward the finish line, but Douglas outkicked Rondon in the final strides to win. Worrying about the loss can take place another day. Danny Rondon was back and glad to be back.
“It’s been a long while,” Rondon said after the race. “Just to be healthy again and to be back running again is a blessing. This can go beyond just winning and losing.”
Rondon said that he was greeted by many fellow competitors and coaches before the race. While he was talking to a reporter, he was stopped with a glad hand.
“Good to see you again, Danny,” a fellow Hudson County runner said. “We missed you.”
“I’m still trying to catch up to where I was, but I’m still not 100 percent,” Rondon said. “I hope to be there soon. I am hoping to get back to what I was. I just have to catch up, but as a senior, I’m running out of time. Hopefully, this is the start of some good things for me. It really was a good feeling. I was saying to myself that it felt like it was years since I ran this well.”
It was definitely great to see Rondon back and competing again. And hitting 16:22 in his first real race, he’s right on target to be back. We’ll see how well he does this weekend at the Shore Coaches Invitational at Holmdel Park…
Since the Tidbits were pushed to the back of the kitchen cabinet for a few weeks to get everyone ready for the high school football season, it’s time to catch up on a few items that took place recently…
St. Peter’s Prep announced that Kevin Wendolowski has been hired as the school’s new head baseball coach, replacing Joe Urbanovich, who retired at the end of last season. It’s a reward for the loyalty that “Wendo” has given the Marauders as a dutiful assistant coach for the last eight years. He’s paid his dues as an assistant, first for many years under Mike Zadroga at Hudson Catholic and then with Urbanovich at Prep, so Wendolowski deserves this chance to be a head coach…
It was also learned that Ravon Anderson has resigned as the head softball coach at High Tech High School. Anderson, the former Hoboken High and Rutgers University football standout, has apparently stepped down to concentrate on coaching football, which he’s currently doing as an assistant at Hudson Catholic.
Anderson was a two-time Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year and guided the Lasercats to four straight HCIAA Seglio tiles and two consecutive NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state crowns, becoming the first school in Hudson County history to win consecutive state softball titles.
Anderson will be replaced by long-time High Tech coach Jose “Bumper” Gonzalez, who has coached baseball, girls’ basketball and soccer at the school…
Some of the noteworthy performances that took place in football thus far include the tremendous outing by Ferris running back William Peters, who scored an amazing six touchdowns in a wild, bizarre 50-46 loss to Nutley two weeks ago. Ferris came back from a 22-point halftime deficit to take the lead late in that game, only to see Nutley score twice in the final 1:43 to snatch the victory.
But Peters’ six-TD explosion certainly put him on the map as a player to watch for the rest of the season. Peters also had two scores in the Bulldogs’ thrilling 35-28 overtime victory over Union City last Friday night, spoiling the groundbreaking ceremonies at the new Union City complex up on the roof…
And Memorial’s Dennsy Portorreal had 240 yards and two touchdowns last weekend in a win over Dickinson last weekend, enabling the Tigers to move to 2-1…
After losing their season opener to St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia, 40-28, the Marauders of St. Peter’s Prep bounced back in fine fashion, going to Oradell last Saturday to knock off mighty Bergen Catholic, 26-23, thanks to a sensational passing day from quarterback Raphael Ortiz (10-for-14, 230 yards, two touchdowns)…
Here’s the Hudson Reporter Top Five in football: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (1-1). 2. Lincoln (3-0). 3. North Bergen (2-1). 4. Ferris (2-1). 5. St. Anthony (2-1)….
In soccer, kudos to Dickinson’s brilliant Maxi Garcia, who knocked in four goals in an upset win over state-ranked Kearny last Wednesday. Garcia, who was the Hudson Reporter Offensive Player of the Year last year as a junior, has definitely made his mark as the county’s premier player once again, getting four goals against a top-flight opponent…
And congrats to the McNair Academic girls’ soccer team, which has managed to win all eight of its games thus far, easily the best start in the school’s history. We’ll have more on the plight of the Cougars next week…
In closing, condolences to the great Spanarkel family of Jersey City, who lost the matriarch of that clan, Mary, a.k.a. “Ma Spa,” last Monday.
Mary Spanarkel was 81 years old.
“Ma Spa” was a classic character, beloved by everyone who knew her. She inserted a dose of her incredible and friendly personality in every one of her six kids, including former NBA standout and current respected basketball broadcaster Jim.
I’ll always remember the lady who would sneak in the back door of Dohoney’s, wanting to have a little something, because she was “feeling a little parched;” the lady whose laughter could be heard for miles and lit up a room and her dedication to each of her children, but especially for being at every single one of her son John’s Babe Ruth baseball games, of which I was a teammate.
“Will you please hit the damn ball, please, Jimmy Hague?” she’d bellow.
“Sure thing, Mrs. Spanarkel,” I’d offer.
Only one problem. I really didn’t hit the ball that often.
But I loved that lady and so did Jersey City. Rest in peace, “Bloody Mary.” – Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.