A lot has gone on during the past year, especially with the worldwide pandemic. We have a new president of the United States, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are single once again, Aaron Rodgers is not the permanent host of Jeopardy!, wants to get traded from Green Bay and is engaged to a different actress in Shailene Woodley and Giuliani is running for governor of New York against Cuomo. Wait, hasn’t that happened already?
But one thing in Hudson County sports is a constant – and that’s St. Peter’s Prep winning the Hudson County Track Coaches Association outdoor track and field championship.
There might have been a pause and shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but the Marauders remain the dominant item in the local track and field circuit. They steamrolled the competition last week, outdistancing the rest of the field by more than 100 points.
It’s true. The Marauders compiled 189 team points. The closest runner-up was Snyder with 75. This is not a dual meet score here. This is the county championship that the Marauders turned into their own little personal playground.
It was about as impressive of a single-team performance since the inception of the HCTCA.
Prep track and field head coach Chris Caulfield was obviously pleased with the Marauders’ overall performance.
“We have been blessed to have a lot of good kids who buy into what we want from them,” Caulfield said. “We have a good bunch of kids who are able to compete at any level. A lot of them are exceeding even my expectations. Maybe it was COVID [-19 ]. We had to shut down about 30 kids, including most of our sprinters. We had to hope that they would do the things we asked of them. It’s a huge testament to these kids that they worked out alone. Incredibly, these kids were running time trials all by themselves. So it’s a testament to these kids.”
Leading the way for the Marauders was Fitzroy Ledgister, who is no longer just a fun name to write. He’s a dominant county champion.
Ledgister merely won three events, the 100 and 200-meter dashes and the long jump.
Ledgister wasn’t alone.
Edwin Klanke, who has survived countless illnesses and injuries over his career, was also brilliant in his final county meet before heading off to the University of Pennsylvania in a few months. Klanke won the 800 and 1,600-meter runs (in a sizzling county record of 4:10.56) and was second to his teammate and main rival Rodolfo Sanchez in the 3,200-meter run. Sanchez finished second to Klanke in both the 800 and 1,600-meter runs.
In fact, the Marauders put the meet away by finishing 1-2-3 in all three of the distance races, the 800, the 1,600 and the 3,200.
Jack Sipperly was third in the 800-meter run, with Alex Schimmel placing third in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Got all that? It meant that the Marauders collected 24 team points in each of the three distance races. You could have turned off the truck and the timer at that point.’
“We were confident going in,” Caulfield said. “It was the first meet where we were all loaded up all the time, with some athletes quadrupling and tripling some of the events. Our big guns were absolutely lights out. They had already broken eight records. We had Edwin break the county record for a 4:10 1,600 and Rodolfo ran a 4:14. Someone said that Rodolfo just picked the wrong year to go to Prep.”
Joe Morrone also had a great meet. He won the 400-meter run and both the 100 and 400-meter hurdles.
Erik Perez won the discus and Landers Green captured the triple jump to cap off the Marauders’ incredible meet.
“I’d say right now we’re in really good spirit,” Caulfield said. “The kids are good. I think they’re ready to do some great things.”
The Marauders now head to the Parochial A state sectionals in Neptune June 11 and 12.
“I think we’re lucky to have a great group of guys,” Caulfield said. “I’m really excited about this team. I think they have the idea that they’re ready to do something special.”
They already have.
Others to gain Hudson County championships include Tyrece Brown of North Bergen, who won the Gerald Rovelo of Bayonne, who won the javelin and Joshua Ruiz of Hudson Catholic, who won the shot put.
Meanwhile, on the girls’ side, North Bergen continued its season to remember by winning the HCTCA girls’ championship, outdistancing runner-up Snyder, 132-105, with St. Dominic Academy placing third.
Leading the way for the Bruins was Alexandra Bartutis, who won three events (the high jump, the long jump and the javelin) while placing second in the triple jump. That’s 38 of the Bruins’ point total coming from one athlete.
“She set the standard for everyone else by winning three the first day,” North Bergen head coach Elson Smajlaj said. “It definitely set the tone for everyone else. We used her for three events on Thursday and she won all three.”
Bartutis is headed to Rider University to continue her track and field career.
Kiomy Luperon also had a major hand in the Bruins’ success. Luperon won the 100-meter dash, was second in the 200-meter dash and was third in the 400-meter run. Not bad for someone who is known for her soccer prowess more than anything.
Kaysia Dusajn won the 110-meter hurdles, was second in the long jump and third in the triple jump.
Cocoro Carr was fourth in the 400-meter hurdles and third in the long jump.
“I think it helped us tremendously to go 1-2-3 in the long jump,” Smajlaj said. “Those were 24 huge points right there.”
Yoijhira Ortiz was third in the javelin and fifth in the discus. Tatiana Nunez was fifth in the 3,200-meter run and sixth in the 1,600-meter run. Chyeka Conner was fourth in the triple jump and sixth in the 800.
“Everyone contributed,” Smajlaj said. “I’m really happy for the kids. It took a full team performance to get this done, a full team effort. It means much more to win with a full team performance.”
Kayla Sullivan of St. Dominic Academy won both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs and was third in the 800-meter run. Teammate Milani Bethel won the 400-meter hurdles and was third in the 400-meter run.
Faith Bethea of Snyder won the triple jump and the 200-meter dash and was second in the 110-meter hurdles.
Kayla Kass of Bayonne won the 800-meter run and was second in the 400.
Alyssa Craigwell of Secaucus won the discus and was second in both the shot put and the javelin.
Aileen Bakacer of Union City won the shot put. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com