Paquette power!

Vikes’ senior gains stunning javelin win at GMC’s

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   The biggest upset at last weekend’s Greater Middlesex Conference Track and Field Championship occurred in the girls’ javelin competition. South Brunswick High School senior Linda Paquette stunned the field when she threw 119-8 to beat out defending GMC champ Sarah Convery of Old Bridge by three inches. Paquette’s best throw prior to last Saturday had been a 106-1 from last year.
   "Everything just came together today, so it was really exciting," Paquette said. "In the GMC relays last weekend, I didn’t throw that good. I’ve been battling a knee injury. I twisted my knee at the beginning of the season. It’s finally starting to get better. It was feeling real good today, and everything just went."
   "That was a real pleasant surprise," Lady Viking head coach Brian Jost said. "She’s a real hard worker, and she’s a good goal setter. She wanted to beat the girl from Old Bridge, and she wanted to be GMC champion, and she was able to accomplish that."
   Although Old Bridge got edged out in the javelin, at the end of the day the Lady Knights had amassed 137 team points to claim first in the team competition. South Brunswick was a distant second (74), and Piscataway came in third (59). South Brunswick placed in 10 out of the 15 events, so Paquette’s performance wasn’t the only highlight of the day.
   Juniors Natalya Johnson and Lauren Broadenax delivered a lot of points in the sprints. Broadenax earned a silver medal in the 200 meter dash with a time of 25.0 seconds, and she came in third in the 400 (60.3). Johnson was fifth in the 400 (62.0), and sixth in the 200. Both girls ran on South’s fourth place 4×400 squad, along with Engedaye Polk and Shafeeha Potts. Johnson went back and forth between the track and the long jump pit, where she earned her fourth medal, a silver for a leap of 16-1 ¼. Polk, who was returning after an injury, ran a 61.5 split in the 4×400.
   Potts, who is only a sophomore, was a surprise third-place finisher in the 100-meter high hurdles. She clocked a personal best time of 15.6 seconds.
   The Lady Vikings placed in all three jumping events. For the second meet in a row, junior Dayna O’Connor cleared five feet in the high jump, this time taking a second place medal. And sophomore Risa Levine tied for second place in the pole vault when she cleared 7-1.
   There was a small disappointment for the Vikings when Rebecca Dezan only came in second in the discus. Her toss of 110-6 was well below her personal best, but Kim Yee performed well there, taking fourth with 100-6. Yee added a sixth in the shot put (33-10).
   There were several good performances for the SBHS boys’ team as well at the GMC championships. For example, senior Dan McDonald took two seconds off his best time in the 800, finishing third with a time of 1:56.9.
   "That was a really big surprise," Viking boys’ head coach Dan Kerekes said. "I knew he could run, but that was one of the moments that stands out the most. He ran a 1:58.8 before, but taking almost two seconds off (his best time) is a big difference."
   Sean Carner picked up the bronze medal in the shot put with a toss just over 48 feet. He threw a 50-footer once this year, but has been consistent in the 48 foot range. South’s final top-three finish went to sophomore Alex Persaud who tied for third in the pole vault by clearing 11-0.
   Persaud, who got interested in trying the pole vault after watching it in the Olympics, hopes to break the sophomore class record of 12-6 before the end of the season. He’s already hit 12 flat. Although a little disappointed with his vaults last Saturday, Persaud was able to put everything in the context of a less than perfect day, weather-wise. The conditions on Saturday morning were windy and chilly.
   "After seeing that everybody else didn’t have good jumps, I didn’t feel so bad," Persaud said. "Like, a kid from East Brunswick, who’s a 13-foot jumper, only jumped 11 today. So, to be a sophomore, and to be up there with the seniors, I feel kind of good."
   In other track action, Scott Yeager finished fifth in the 1600 with a personal best time of 4:33.1, and Matt Randal was sixth in the 3200 (9:59.7). Steve Folkes came in sixth in the high hurdles (15.5). The boys placed fourth in the 4×400 relay, clocking a 3:29.1 (Folkes, McDonald, James Promise and Randal).
   "We were happy with everything," Kerekes said. "I thought the whole thing went well. The kids competed hard, and now they are ready and waiting for the (state) sectionals to go on."
   Before the state sectionals, a few of the Vikings will compete at the East Coast Regionals, scheduled for next Monday at Morristown High School. The boys are sending teams for the distance medley, 4×1600 and long jump. The girls will compete in the 4×100, 4×200, shuttle hurdles and discus.
   FOOTPRINTS: Although they did not place, the following Viking freshmen had good times in their races: Amy Rhein (3200 and 1600); Emmanuel King (100, 200); Coran Short (400) and Steve Guadalupe (400).