Bears have impressed when given the chance

Local winter track stars shine at GMC

By richard jerome
Staff Writer

Local winter track stars shine at GMC
By richard jerome
Staff Writer

Weather has kept the East Brunswick High School girls’ winter track team from logging even one dual meet thus far (a full slate is planned for February), but Coach Brian Merrigan has seen his Bears show some fine talent in invitational meets so far.

East Brunswick won its own annual meet, besting a dozen other teams, while in the state relays the hurdlers placed fifth. In the Greater Middlesex Conference Relays, the Bears took fourth.

"We’ve had some excellent performances by senior hurdler and sprinter Zeena Hazuri," said Merrigan. "She placed fourth in the Seton Hall Invitational and also at the state Group IV meet. And in the GMCs, she was tied for second in both the hurdles, with an 8.2 time, and the 55 dash, with a 7.3."

Hazuri is heading for the Meet of Champions and will also compete in New York City’s Big Apple Invitational.

Joining her will be sophomore Brittany Hohn, who was fourth in the GMC with a 61.8 in the 400, while tying Hazuri in the 55 in the GMCs.

The Bears’ high-jump contingent is especially strong, with all the girls hitting the 4-10 to 5-foot level, good enough to place second in the GMCs. Included in that group are senior Kristina Babb, junior Dana Liteplo, junior Kathy Cammidge and senior Liz Ressler.

The hurdle relay team consists of Hazuri, Hohn, Liteplo, Ressler and junior Sarah L’Heureux.

In the distances, Merrigan has a senior-led group including 5:50 miler Roxanne Ingram, Katie Bolin who runs in the 13:20s in the 3,200, and Alexandra Schmidt, a 2:30 half-miler.

In the field events, senior Corey Herbst paces the shot-putters, tossing at the 30-foot level.

"We have 90 kids on the roster, but since we’ve only competed in invitationals so far, they haven’t had a chance to do anything," said Merrigan, whose assistant, Doug Parker, handles the jumpers and throwers. "But they’ve been steadfast, coming to practice, working very, very hard."

Their time to compete should come soon, with a dual meet slated for Thursday against J.P. Stevens of Edison — weather permitting, that is.

Track Notes…Monroe’s Ashley Maguire had a stellar day at the GMC Track and Field Championships, held at the Rothman Center at Fairleigh Dickinson University over the weekend.

After winning the 800-meter run in a time of 2:26.9, she came back to take home the 1,600-meter title as well, in 5:29.4, just edging out Edison’s Oghogo Aifuwa in a photo finish.

While Maguire was making her final appearance at the conference championships a memorable one, a freshman from Old Bridge introduced herself to the local track scene, stealing the spotlight with a surprise win in the 400.

Cristine Marquez took home the title in 1:01.1, helping lead the Knights to the team title over South Brunswick, 64-50. Teammate Shannon Robinson dominated the field in the 3,200, winning the race in 11:52.1.

The Old Bridge boys completed the team title sweep by edging out Metuchen 59-38 1/2, led by Ryan Bennett’s impressive win in the 1,600 (4:29.8).

East Brunswick had a couple of top finishers on the boys’ side, where cross country star Alex Shatskov and teammate Ryan Williams went 1-2 in the 3,200, finishing in 10:05.2 and 10:06.8, respectively.

This Sunday, a host of local track and field stars will compete in the Group II and III championships at Princeton’s Jadwin Gymnasium, with the top six from each event (plus wild cards) advancing to the Feb. 16 Meet of Champions.