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Track and field athletes shine at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions

The NJSIAA State Meet of Champions showcased the best of New Jersey high school track and field Saturday afternoon.

Starting at 2 p.m. sharp, athletes toed the line and competed against the fastest runners in the state, hoping to win gold at the most prestigious meet of the season. But, not all of the groundbreaking performances came from the track.

Two girls field event state records were broken by Brielle Smith and Hayley Horvath. Throwing the javelin 163-08, Smith of Oakcrest High School surpassed the previous state record by three feet. Horvath, the senior from Notre Dame High School, crushed the pole vault state record by clearing 13-5 1/4.

On the track, history was made when Notre Dame High School senior Miguel Jimenez-Vergara won all four wheelchair events. After taking gold in the 1600m, 400m, 100m and 800m races, Jimenez-Vergara had a lot to be proud of.

After reminiscing on his last four years of high school track and field, Jimenez-Vergara, who will be competing for the University of Arizona next year, felt thankful that all of his hard work had paid off.

“It hurt, it really did,” he said. “Every sacrifice you make for the sport does pay off eventually. You come so far and you’re like ‘wow, it was all worth it’. That’s the beauty of it.”

With similar thoughts, sophomore standout Julia Trethaway felt thankful that she was able to share the track with such talented athletes. The runner from West Morris Central High School qualified for both the 1600m and 3200m events, which is a feat that some can only dream of dream of achieving.

With only two seasons of high school track under her belt, Trethaway feels that she has accomplished a lot by just competing at the distinguished meet.

“I’m just so happy to be here, and even though they weren’t the great races I wanted, it was still a great time,” she said. “It feels awesome being surrounded by such great runners, and I can’t believe I can share the track with them.”

Other outstanding performances include East Orange’s Akeem Lindo winning two golds in the 100mH and 400mH, in 13.71 and 52.28, respectively.

Along with Lindo, Alexa Westley, the junior from Warren Hills High School, completed a two-peat when she won the girl’s 3200m race for the second year in a row in 10:30.06. Westley improved her winning race time from last year’s meet by five seconds.

As many of the exceptional athletes who competed at the Meet of Champions have a few more seasons before their high school track careers come to a close, the NJSIAA should expect more record-breaking performances in the years to come.

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