Highland Park Girls Track and Field Team became Group 1 State Champions last week after going nearly four decades without a state championship title. Next stop is the Nationals competition in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 24-25.
Head Coach Keith Roig counts much of the success to the girls’ talent, perseverance and commitment. “I am so proud our girls track team won the state championship for the first time since 1980. They are a special group of athletes. The girls have consistently worked hard and had big performances when it really mattered. They all make each other better and raise the bar with their own expectations. The wonderful part about this team is that they are all back next year to compete again for Highland Park. I am really looking forward to seeing what this special group will do next year!”
Starting the season at the Penn Relays in April with breaking school records in both the 4×100 meter relay and 4×400 meter relay, the Highland Park Girls track team had a feeling this season was going to be a special one. They continued to break records at each meet including breaking the 32-year record for the long jump at the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Relays with a team comprising Junior Gabby Sanchez, Sophomore Julia Marks and Freshman Rebecca Ochan.
Onto the state championship in Egg Harbor where Ms. Ochan claimed three individual titles for the 200, 400 meters and long jump and anchoring the winning 4×400 meter relay. Ms. Sanchez placed second behind her teammate Ms. Ochan in the long jump. The team racked up 57 team points to win the Group 1 State Championship for Highland Park – 23 more points than runner up Park Ridge. The title has not been claimed for Highland Park since 1979.
The Meet of Champions (MOCs) in Burlington on June 10th culminated in a competition with the top six in each event for all school groups across New Jersey including private and parochial schools. At the MOCs, Highland Park finished with an impressive fourth place finish in the 4×400 meter relay by breaking their record once again by nearly two seconds. Ms. Sanchez and Ms. Ochan finished sixth and seventh place respectively for the long jump.
“We really pushed ourselves each time and worked together to beat our person best. We’re a small school in a small town so we have been running together since middle school; we play on the soccer and basketball team so we know each other’s strengths – but this is a great achievement and we couldn’t be happier,” said Ms. Sanchez.