SDA wins state relay title in ‘three-peat’ Prep adds county track title to resume; Mattessich nets 1,000th; top fives

The St. Dominic Academy track and field team won the NJSIAA Non-Public B state relay title for a third straight year. From left are Catherine O’Donnell, Kayla Sullivan, Avery Sullivan and Charlotte Hennessey.
The St. Dominic Academy track and field team won the NJSIAA Non-Public B state relay title for a third straight year. From left are Catherine O’Donnell, Kayla Sullivan, Avery Sullivan and Charlotte Hennessey.

It was one thing for the St. Dominic Academy indoor track and field team to claim that they won one NJSIAA state championship relay title when the Blue Devils won for the first time ever in 2018.

But it’s another now to say that they’ve won three in a row.

Sure enough, that’s what took place at the NJSIAA Non-Public B state relays championship at the Bennett Center in Toms River, when the Blue Devils tied Mater Dei for the team title.

The Blue Devils had to achieve the trophy in a meet that was held in record time, under two hours with no recovery time between races whatsoever.

“The sprint medley relay and the mile [4×400-meter] relay were literally back-to-back, some eight minutes apart,” said veteran SDA track and field head coach John Nagel. “Of course, our girls train hard, but when you’re used to having a rest in between in a meet that’s five hours or eight hours, that’s one thing, but two hours is tough. It was tough for everybody, but it was brutal for the last two relays.”

Nagel poked light of the situation.

Kayla Sullivan ran four races,” Nagel said. “Well, they could have called DYFS [the Division of Youth and Family Services, now known as the Department of Children Protection and Permanency] on us for abuse. We figured how long it would take and it was nothing like anything we’ve ever did.”

But the Blue Devils trudged on and scored in all seven events they were entered in, using a total of 10 athletes.

“Basically, all 10 kids scored and we needed every single one of them to do what they did,” Nagel said. “We only won one event. The plan was to third place people to death.”

The lone gold medal came in the sprint medley relay with Milani Bethel, Catherine O’Donnell, Logan Hart and Suhayla Johnson doing the honors.

The Blue Devils were second in the 4×800-meter relay with Sullivan, Avery Sullivan, Johnson and Bethel doing the leg work. They were also second in the 55-meter shuttle hurdles, with Sofia Fragiacomo, Nastaja Gunnings, Bethel and Hart as part of that relay.

The Blue Devils were also third in the distance medley, with Kayla Sullivan running a personal best anchor leg in the 1,600-meter in 5:23.9. They were also second in the 4×400-meter relay with the Sullivan twins, Johnson and Bethel comprising of that relay. They were also third in the 4×800-meter relay with Avery Sullivan, Charlotte Hennessey, O’Donnell and Kayla Sullivan coming home.

Hart was also second overall in the high jump with a jump of 4-foot-8, helping the Blue Devils get fourth in the high jump relay.

“There are advantages in doing this for 42 years,” Nagel said. “We see what people can do and compare to what others in the meet have done. We try to break up the talent as best as possible and maximize what you can do and try to spread them out, with the heavy lifters doing the heavy lifting. Most of these kids are veterans who weren’t about to get overwhelmed by it all. They’ve been to a lot of places and been around. They were prepared and practiced well. It’s three relays in a row and we’re going to try to do it again next year. We have a nice group of juniors who are pretty good.”

The SDA track team also made trips to Yale and Dartmouth for those schools relays. The girls won the 2-mile relay at Yale on Friday night and then finished second in the same event two days later, giving the team trips to two Ivy League schools in the same weekend. Those four young ladies were Kayla and Avery Sullivan, Bethel and Johnson.

“We’ve been going to those places since the mid-80s,” Nagel explained. “Frankly, it’s exhausting, but it’s life on the road, four to a room. We’re not just a joggling club. We’re a program in the best sense of the world. The school supports us and our parents support us. We’re fortunate enough to do it.”…

Also in track and field, the St. Peter’s Prep continued its dream season by capturing the team title at the recent Hudson County Track Coaches Association championships at the New York Armory without their stud runner, cross country champ Edwin Klanke.

“He started out having shooting pain in his shin,” Prep head track coach Chris Caulfield said. “It was similar to the pain he had during last outdoor season. He had an MRI with no significant damage, but doctors said that he should try taking a couple of weeks off.”

Still, without the services of Klanke, the Marauders destroyed the competition, winning by a final score of 132 points with Hudson Catholic the closest runner-up with 43 points. It means the Marauders won the county title by almost 90 points without their best distance runner. It also marked the fifth straight year the Marauders won the county title.

“I told them that I was over the moon with their performance,” Caulfield said. “We had some really good performances. We had some kids double up and some triple and they stood up to the task.”

Caulfield was impressed with junior Rodolfo Sanchez, who won both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs with Klanke on the sidelines. Sanchez won the 1,600-meter run in 4:29.72 and the 3,200 in 9:40.30.

“What he’s been able to do is really impressive stuff,” Caulfield said. “I think we’re going to see him drop some really impressive times the rest of the way.”

Another solid contributor was sophomore Fitzroy Ledgister, who won the 55-meter dash and was part of the Marauders’ winning relay team.

“Fitzroy is running out of his shoes right now,” Caulfield said. “We knew he would be good, but he’s improved leaps and bounds.”

The Marauders also finished first and second in the 800-meter run, with junior Joseph Morrone and senior Luqman Gbadamassi turning the trick.

“There’s one thing about this team,” Caulfield said. “They have a very business-like mentality. We tell them what we would like them to do and they do it. They don’t need anything else. There’s no backing down. They’re competing at a high level and running at their potential and I couldn’t be happier.”…

Congrats to Hoboken senior Zoe Mattessich, who recently recorded the 1,000th point of her basketball career. It hasn’t been easy this season for Mattessich, who has been asked to play point guard and still be a scorer. But she always has a smile on her face, so that’s a good sign…

Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (17-2). 2. Hudson Catholic (13-6). 3. Snyder (15-4). 4. Marist (16-3). 5. North Bergen (13-5)…

Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Hudson Catholic (18-2) 2. Bayonne (18-2) 3. Marist (14-4) 4. Secaucus (15-2). 5. Lincoln (11-4). – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com