It may go down as one of the best comeback stories in local cross country history.
North Bergen’s Danny Rondon, who missed most of last indoor season and all of the outdoor season due to injury, continued his fine comeback by winning his second straight Hudson County Track Coaches Association championship last weekend at Bayonne County Park.
Rondon slopped through the poor course conditions in a respectable 16:45, ahead of runner-up Luis Romero of Union City. Remarkably, the pair ran 1-2 in last year’s race as well.
“The time wasn’t the greatest, but I feel pretty good and have a sense of satisfaction winning again,” Rondon said. “One of my goals was to win another county championship, but for a while, I thought that my injury would get in the way and that would stop me. But it turned out not to be a problem.”
Rondon became only the seventh runner to win more than one HCTCA championship and only the second in North Bergen history, joining Mike DiVincent, who won in 1981 and 1982.
The other multiple winners are Artie Almeida of Kearny (three times, 1986 through 1988), Victor Torres of Union Hill (1988-89), Tony Barroco of Kearny (1992-93), Roger Munoz of Kearny (three times, 1994 through 1996) and Joe Weber, Jr. of Kearny (2005-06).
“It’s fantastic,” North Bergen cross country coach Yael Martinez said. “With an injury like the one Danny had, you always wonder how well he could come back and how serious it really was. I was very disappointed to lose him for as long as we did. But he’s come back now and this has to be a good confidence boost for him.”
The Dickinson boys, led by Pedro Claudio who finished third overall, won the team title for the second straight year.
The girls’ individual champion was Mira Mahmood of McNair Academic, who came home in 21:39 ahead of runner-up Meghan Donovan of St. Dominic Academy. It was a marked improvement for Mahmood, who finished 13th a year ago.
North Bergen, led by Nicole Ortiz, who finished sixth and teammate Ybrahina Cohen, who was right behind in seventh, won the girls’ team title, continuing a fine season for that program.
Rondon now will head to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV championships this weekend at Garret Mountain in Woodland Park, a race where Rondon finished second a year ago.
“I can’t go in with expectations that I’m going to win,” Rondon said. “There are a lot of good runners in the race. I just want to qualify for the Group meet and keep going. But this is really rewarding. It’s good to know that I’ll be remembered when I’m gone.”
“I feel he is definitely a top five contender,” Martinez said of the state sectionals. “If he has a good race, he has a shot to win. He’s in the mix. When he thinks he can win, he has a chance to go forward.”…
Here’s the latest about the upcoming NJSIAA state football playoffs. It’s as simple as the following:
Secaucus is in and can clinch the No. 1 seed in North Jersey Section 2, Group I with a win this weekend over North Arlington. All the times that the Patriots have been part of the post-season party, they’ve never been the top seed. They’ve had to travel all over the map to play in the playoffs. This year will be different as they continue their quest to play in Giants Stadium, before the old girl comes tumbling down next spring. The Patriots will play host to either Glen Ridge, Verona or Weequahic of Newark on Nov. 14.
Lincoln has clinched a berth in the North Jersey Section 2, Group II bracket. The Lions will play their first home game in the playoffs since 1987 against either Orange, Chatham or Ridgefield Park next weekend.
St. Anthony has also clinched a berth in Non-Public Group 1 and will also get a home game, more than likely against St. Mary’s of Rutherford on Nov. 14.
St. Peter’s Prep is the fourth local team to lock up a playoff bid. The Marauders are currently the No. 6 seed in Non-Public Group 4 and will obviously climb up the rankings if they can somehow defeat Don Bosco Prep this weekend. If they slay the Ironmen, then the Marauders will get a home game as well in the first round. Sure will make Caven Point Cochrane Stadium a happening spot with three home playoff games that weekend.
But if the Marauders lose to DBP, then they will either stay at No. 6 or drop to No. 7 in the power point standings, setting up a road game in the first round against either Notre Dame of Lawrenceville or Seton Hall Prep.
The only other local team with a playoff shot is North Bergen and the Bruins need help. Simple as this: If Irvington can defeat West Orange this weekend, which can happen, then the 4-4 Bruins get the No. 8 seed and travel to face Roxbury for the first round of North Jersey Section 1, Group IV. If WO wins, the Bruins are out.
That’s the entire local playoff scenario in a nutshell…
The Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (6-1). 2. Lincoln (8-0). 3. Secaucus (7-0). 4. North Bergen (4-4). 5. St. Anthony (5-2)….
When the NJSIAA decided to realign most of the state, eliminating the HCIAA and forming the new North Jersey Tri-County Conference for this season, it was a move that really didn’t benefit the local football teams.
That’s because the 13 local teams in the NJTCC are a combined 9-29 outside of Hudson County. That’s an abysmal mark.
The only teams with winning records outside of the county are Prep (2-1 and have mighty Bosco this weekend), Marist (2-1), St. Anthony (2-0) and Lincoln (1-0, but have Irvington this weekend). Bayonne, North Bergen, Memorial, Hudson Catholic and Hoboken are all 0-3. Dickinson is 0-2 and has Wayne Hills this weekend. Ferris is 0-5.
It’s safe to say that the new realignment didn’t do any favors for the local football teams… -- Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.