TASTY TIDBITS

North Bergen’s Bartutis wins NJSIAA state sectional gold Secaucus’ Rodriguez explodes; Marist looks to close on top; Peacocks amaze; top fives

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North Bergen junior Alejandra Bartutis won a gold medal at the NJSIAA state sectionals in the high jump and also set a new Hudson County record in the triple jump.
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Weehawken guard Moses Morales (center) scored the 1,000th point of his fine career in a recent win over Rutherford. Head coach Jake McNish (center left) presented Morales with the game ball
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North Bergen junior Alejandra Bartutis won a gold medal at the NJSIAA state sectionals in the high jump and also set a new Hudson County record in the triple jump.
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Weehawken guard Moses Morales (center) scored the 1,000th point of his fine career in a recent win over Rutherford. Head coach Jake McNish (center left) presented Morales with the game ball

When Alejandra Bartutis was still a little girl growing up in her native Cuba, she always knew that she could do one athletic thing very well.

“I was about seven years old and playing with all the boys,” recalled Bartutis, the North Bergen High School junior. “I was always competitive with them. I loved doing that. And I always loved to jump.”

Little did Bartutis would know that her ability to jump would take her all the way to a state championship gold medal.

“I never knew it would take me this far,” Bartutis said.

Recently, Bartutis cleared the high jump bar at 5 feet even to win the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV title at the Bennett Center in Toms River.

Bartutis became the first North Bergen track and field athlete since 2013-2014 Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year Carolina Herrera to capture a gold medal at the NJSIAA state sectionals.

This comes on the heels of Bartutis setting a new Hudson County record in the triple jump, reaching 36-feet, seven and ¾ inches, surpassing the old mark by the brilliant Alicia Campbell of Snyder.

Bartutis’ jump of 36-7 ¾ is the top mark of anyone in northern New Jersey this indoor track season and is the fourth best mark in the entire state. The NJSIAA does not include the triple jump as a championship event during the indoor season, so therefore Bartutis didn’t get another medal at the sectionals for her triple jump prowess.

Bartutis credited having a talented athlete like Campbell in the same county as motivation for her success.

“I think it has helped me jump higher and further,” Bartutis said. “I love to compete with Alicia. She’s a great athlete and a great person. I’m happy and I’m shocked I broke her record. When [North Bergen head coach] Elson [Smajlaj] told me that he thought I broke the record, I was definitely surprised.”

Smajlaj pulled no punches when talking about Bartutis.

“North Bergen has never had a jumper like Alejandra,” Smajlaj said. “We’ve definitely figured out what kind of an athlete she is.”

Smajlaj said that the key to Bartutis’ gold medal success has been her diligent workout regimen.

“We’ve done a lot of strength training,” Smajlaj said. “She’s now able to do things within her body. The main thing with her is her consistency.”

Smajlaj said that Bartutis has high jumped 5-foot-5 inches in practices.

“If you see her now, she’s put on 15 pounds of muscle,” Smajlaj said. “She’s doing things now that she was always capable of doing. I think the consistency comes with maturity.”

“I can definitely feel the difference,” Bartutis said of her training regimen. “I’m a lot stronger now.”

When asked what Bartutis’ best event was, he honestly replied: “Alejandra’s best event is jumping.”

This season, Bartutis has also competed in the long jump. In the spring, the sky’s the limit.

“I try to get my boys to do what she does,” Smajlaj said. “I tell the boys if they want to make varsity, then they have to beat Alejandra.”

That idea really boggled Bartutis’ mind.

“I definitely get a little shy when he says that,” Bartutis said. “I remember saying, ‘Oh, my God, he’s comparing me to the guys.’ It was really great to hear that.”

Bartutis will not rest on her winter laurels.

“Working out, jumping, competing, it’s like an addiction,” Bartutis said. “I can see myself progressing and it makes me do more. Hopefully, I can achieve more in my career.”

So far, Bartutis’ name is posted all over the wall of the North Bergen gym that lists the track and field record holders.

“It’s definitely something that has made me proud,” Bartutis said.

One thing’s for sure: The Hudson County Track Coaches Association championships in May will be something to see with Campbell and Bartutis going head-to-head. Keep that in mind…

Secaucus’ sensational girls’ basketball point guard Damaris Rodriguez went off for a career-high 44 points in the Patriots’ quarterfinal win over Marist. It is still absolutely astounding that Rodriguez does not have a single scholarship offer. That girl could play at any local college right now and be a major factor. She’s the best all-around player that very deep program has produced. That says a lot…

Congrats to Weehawken’s Moses Morales, who scored the 1,000th point of his career in a recent win over Rutherford. Morales has been a shining star for head coach Jake McNish’s squad this season, averaging close to 20 points per game…

The Marist boys’ basketball team is trying to win a county championship before the school closes forever this June. The Royal Knights advanced to the county tourney finale by soundly knocking off Hudson Catholic, 55-35, with Keith Mency scoring 13 points and Adam Silas netting 12.

The 22-4 Royal Knights will attempt to defeat top-seeded St. Peter’s Prep (22-3) in the final game slated for Saturday, Feb. 29 at High Tech High School in Secaucus at 4 p.m. The Royal Knights, the champions of the Red Division regular season, square off against White Division champion Marauders. It will obviously be a game for the ages…

Defending champion Hudson Catholic will face Bayonne in the girls’ title game slated to start at noon, also at High Tech. We will have in-depth coverage of both title games in next week’s editions of the Hudson Reporter…

Don’t look know but the Peacocks of St. Peter’s University are sitting atop the regular season standings in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Peacocks, coached by second-year mentor Shaheen Holloway, have a 12-5 MAAC record and are tied with Siena for the top spot. The Peacocks have won five in a row, getting hot at the absolute right time. They have also had five different players earn Rookie of the Week honors, so it’s obvious that Holloway and his staff did an excellent job recruiting…

Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (22-3). 2. 2. Marist (22-4). 3. Hudson Catholic (18-7). 4. North Bergen (17-6). 5. Snyder (19-5)…

Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Hudson Catholic (22-3) 2. Bayonne (22-3). 3. Secaucus (21-3). 4. Marist (19-5). 5. Lincoln (14-7). – Jim Hague

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