Aifuwa-led Eagles do well at Group IV meet

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

EDISON — The Edison High School girls track and field team sent six girls to the Group IV finals this weekend in Egg Harbor.

Senior Oghogho Aifuwa broke her own school record in the 800 meters to become the lone Eagle to advance to Wednesday’s Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High School.

At the group finals, Aifuwa finished the 800 alongside Toms River East’s Alisa Budd in 2:15.07. The two tied for second behind Lauren Lewis of Southern Regional. Lewis crossed the tape in 2:13.77.

"Oghogho really stepped up to the level of competition," Edison head coach Ame Wolf deAraujo said. "She knew she had to get tougher or she wasn’t going to qualify. She hung in there with the best of them and did a great job. I’m really proud of her."

Qualifying for the Meet of Champions is certainly a nice way to end a successful career for Aifuwa. However, she has a legitimate shot to make some noise in South Plainfield.

"On paper, she [Aifuwa] is entering the Meet of Champions with the fifth-fastest time," Wolf deAraujo said. "It’s anybody’s race, and whoever shows up physically and mentally prepared will win."

After graduation, Aifuwa is off to the University of Science in Philadelphia. Although the school is currently without a track team, Aifuwa will run cross country.

"It will be great for her to score in the Meet of Champions," Wolf deAraujo said. "To get a medal in her final race will be special."

Luckily for Wolf deAraujo, her Eagles will still have an Aifuwa on their roster. Oghogho’s younger sister, Eronmwon, teamed up with her big sister to qualify as one half of the 4×400 relay team in the group finals in addition to senior Cassandra Gibbs and junior Eliza Kelton. The team ran a 4:17 to finish in sixth place to earn a shot at the Meet of Champions. Unfortunately, the relay team did not qualify for the Meet of Champions.

Gibbs also competed for a slot at the Meet of Champions in the 800. She ran to a fourth place 2:20 to qualify for the group finals, but came up short in her bid for a place at the Meet of Champions. Next year, she is off to MIT with plans to play soccer and run track. She is Edison High School’s Scholar Athlete.

"These girls [Aifuwa and Gibbs] are fast and smart," Wolf deAraujo said.

Also competing for the Eagles in the group final were pole vaulters Shana Cirullo and Winnie Chang. Cirullo cleared 7 feet 6 inches to qualify for the group finals, and Chang cleared 7 feet.

"The team has only been pole vaulting for two years," Wolf deAraujo said. "Just to make it to the state group meet shows that they are hanging in there and being tough. Hopefully, we can continue to build a pole vaulting program."

Also providing noteworthy perfor­mances were juniors Kim Muller and Ch’nel Duke-Hobby. Although Muller and Duke-Hobby came up short in their ef­forts to qualify for the group final, Wolf deAraujo is happy with her junior throw­ers.

"It was the first time since 1998 that we had a girl in the finals in all three throwing events," Wolf deAraujo said. "They were close to qualifying, but fin­ished either seventh or eighth. It shows improvement for the program."

Muller finished seventh in the discus and eighth in the javelin, while Duke-Hobby took eighth in the shot put.

The strides the Eagles have taken this year is sure to have an impact on a young team that will return much of this year’s lineup. Hopefully, Aifuwa can bring home some additional incentive — a medal at the Meet of Champions.