South Brunswick holds its own at GMC relays

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   With 74 team points, the Old Bridge boys dominated last week’s Greater Middlesex Conference Winter Track Relay Championships held at the Jersey City Armory. The South Brunswick boys came in second (47 points), and East Brunswick was third (35).
   The girls’ competition was a lot closer, but the Knights still prevailed (49 points) followed by Piscataway (46) and the Lady Vikings (43). While South Brunswick didn’t get a big win this year, there is still one feat the Vikings can be proud of.
   "We were the only school where both boys’ and girls’ teams placed in every event," Viking head coach Brian Jost said. "In the boys’ meet, Old Bridge scored in every event. But on the girls’ side, they didn’t score in one event (shot put). At least we can hold that above them. They have the championship plaques, but we can say that we scored in every event."
   Following in the footsteps of throwing legends Yemi Ayeni and Prescott Hill, senior Joe Johnson and John Viotto won the shot put with a combined distance of 93-feet even. Johnson threw a personal best of 48-9.
   The Vikings took two sets of silver medals. Emery Greenfield led off in the 4×400, followed by Jeremy Guzman and Chris Greco. Miguel Akena ran the anchor leg, bringing it home in 3:35.2. Bill Ricketts and T.J. Taikina came in second in the high jump (10-10).
   One third place finish went to Guzman, Max Checo, Greco, and Akena in the 4×200 (1:37.2). The 3rd place 4×800 squad included Anthony Veverka, Greenfield and Cole Crosby.
   Team points were awarded for top-six finishes in each event. Fourth place points went to Veverka, Kris Raghavan, Dave Christofalo and Steve Sample in the distance medley (11:26.0), and to M. Checo, Matt Kirbos, Josh Checo and Taikina in the shuttle hurdles. Crosby, Greenfield, Guzman and Greco placed fifth in the sprint medley.
   The Lady Vikings came home with a set of gold medals as well. Stephanie McIntyre, Jess Engel, Stephanie Rodriguez and Jessie Boynton won the 4×800 (10:10.3).
   They also earned four sets of bronze medals. Krista Belick and Rebecca Russo combined for 9-6 in the high jump. The sprinters had a great day, with Eve Mizerak, Danielle Hudak, McIntyre and Boynton running 1:52.5 in the 4×200. The same four girls ran the sprint medley (4:29.6) and Rodriguez replaced Hudak in the 4×400 (4:11.3).
   One pleasant surprise for the Lady Vikings came in the shot put where Giana Walker and Jazmen Burnett both threw over 31 feet, beating their previous best throws by over a foot. Their combined distance of 63-3 earned fourth place points. Engel, Rodriguez, Mizerak and Megan Behrend came in fourth in the distance medley. In the shuttle hurdles, Rodriguez, Belick, Falen Watson and Hudak combined for sixth place in 36.2 seconds.
   "We were competitive in just about every event," Jost said. "It was a real exciting meet. The girls really performed, as did the guys. We knew going in that it was going to be a tough meet, no matter what. And they all rose to the occasion and performed above and beyond."
   With so many of the varsity runners competing in four events on Thursday evening, the decision was made to give them a rest this past weekend. South Brunswick competed in the 12th annual Hispanic Games held at the 168th Street Armory in New York City, but only went on Sunday, forgoing the varsity day, which was Saturday. Separate races for the 56 schools attending on Sunday were held in freshman, sophomore, and class categories. The latter was meant for upperclassmen who had not yet won a varsity medal this winter.
   In class action, the Lady Vikings had second place finishes in the pole vault (J. Bellizio, personal best of 7-0, Belick, 7-6) and high jump (Alyssa Reinfeldt and Olivia Falcon). Rodriguez, MacMurray, Watson and Russo finished third in the 4×400. Stephanie Greco threw a personal best of 26.5, helping partner Walker to a fourth place finish. Jackie Helfgott, MacMurray, J. Bellizio and Tanya Gidej came in 6th in the 4×800.
   The following boys placed in the class events: Kirbos and Zach Ryan (second, high jump, pb’s of 5-4 each); John Liptak, John McCall, Jon Bellizio and Steven Lewis (3rd, 4×800); and Kirbos, J. Checo, Ricketts and Raghavan (5th, 4×200). The freshman boys team of Kevin O’Laughlin, Chan Medell, Matt Boley and J. Bellizio placed sixth in the 4×800.
   The varsity will be back in action this coming Saturday at the Stanner Games held at the Armory in NYC.