Passaic Tech and Lakeland had two things in common at Saturday’s Dr. Boverini Memorial Passaic County Relays. They both won the boys and girls titles in their respective divisions of the meet at Passaic Valley High School. And both schools would like a combined meet instead of it being divided into small and large schools.
“I bring it up every year,” said Lakeland boys coach Damiano Conforti after his team won its fifth straight small schools title, 136-112, over Manchester. “We want to go toe-to-toe with everybody like we do in the county championships. This meet is pretty much a dual meet between us and Manchester and it’s not the kind of meet it could be.”
PCT boys coach Jeff Cioletti agrees.
“The way this meet is set up right now is a joke,” said Cioletti, whose team won its sixth straight large schools title, 120-96, over resurgent Passaic Valley. “Instead of four medals in each event for each division, we could score eight or 10 teams and give eight or 10 medals and have a real county championship.”
Until that happens, both teams have to be content with their wins. Lakeland easily defeated West Milford, 137-81, to win its 3rd straight girls small schools title and PCT defeated Clifton, 134-111 for its second straight large schools title.
Lakeland’s boys achieved their impressive win despite the absence of its best athlete, senior sprinter/jumper Hasson Klingen, who injured his knee in a freak accident at a dual meet a week ago.
“Our throwers, Chris and T.J. McCormack and Taylor Boorse were tremendous (winning the shot, discus and javelin) and we got great meets from juniors Jesse Campoverde, Carlos Cuevas and Zack Voll,” said Conforti. “They were unbelievable.”
But Manchester was relentless, winning eight events to Lakeland’s six and the Lancers needed big performances from freshmen Jim Catalioto, Carter Pagan and Owen Gibson, who combined for 10 medals in nine different events to win.
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Passaic Tech had no injury problems and won six events, getting a trio of triple gold medalists in Shamar Taylot, Amair Buffaloe and Joel Ingram. But the win wasn’t without some stress.
“We were missing one of our top sprinters who had to deal with some family issues,” said Cioletti. “But we needed to be ‘next man up’ and soph Keshon Holt was that man.”
Holt ran a 52.8 on the 4-x-400 helping PCT clinch its win and also ran a leg on the winning 4-x-200 team.
Passaic Valley won just the 4-x-1,600 and shuttle hurdles and shared the pole vault title but scored at least four points in every event but the long jump.and recorded its best finish in the meet since at least 1980.
The PCT girls used big meets from seniors Sydney Shannon, Ashley Martinez, Nancy Habib and Imani Durham and got great results from freshman Briana Fasoli and Anne Noonan as well to record a comparatively easy win over rival Clifton.
“Our throwers were also really good and Imani Durham ran good legs on each of our sprint teams in addition to what she always does in the triple jump,” said Cioletti.
First year coach Louise Marlow, whose Lakeland teams never won a title when she was competing a decade ago, got amazing work from seniors Emma Gibson, Gracie Yost, Amy Heller and Ana Deftalinskij. But it was a freshman class of seven girls, each winning at least one gold on the track that led to the blowout win.
“Gracie and Emma won four golds each and our freshmen were incredible,” said Marlow. “It was a great way to start my head coaching career.”
Peralta will double at Penn
Luis Peralta had already qualified for the mile race on April 26 at the Penn Relays. But the Passaic senior, running with his high school team for the first time since early January, will be a busy guy that day.
He anchored the team of Jeffrey Bravo, Johaan Robles and Nicholas Ortiz to a 8:03.32 clocking in the 4-x-800 which was enough to get the Indians into the large school division of the event early that morning.
Peralta went out in 49 seconds and paid the price, running 1:53 on his anchor leg, well off his best. But Ortiz had a personal best split of 1:58 and the Indians ran the third fastest time in county history.