Princz’s Perspective: May 22-23

Princz’s Perspective by Howard Princz is a weekly roundup of the local youth sports scene in Highland Park.                               

 TRACK:  The Central Jersey Sectional Track Championships took place on May 22-23 at Hillsborough High School. It was a banner weekend for the Highland Park girls track team. The team came into the meet with a 6-0 mark and earned Gold Division championship honors in the Greater Middlesex Conference.  After the two-day event ended and the dust settled, the team finished a strong third in the Group I division with 43 points behind the sectional champion, Metuchen High School.

A young but very talented Lady Owls squad was led by freshman Gabby Sanchez and junior Anna Minakhina. Sanchez was on a roll, capturing the long jump on Friday, May 22 with a leap of 16-02 ½. Her teammate, junior Aniya Davila was sixth with a leap of 15-05 ½. In other events, Gabby placed ninth in the 100 meters in 13.45, sixth in the 200 in 27.77 and 13th in the 400 in 1:04.59.

“With Gabby the sky’s the limit because of her hard work and intelligence,” said girls head track coach Keith Roig. “She is so physically talented plus she has the heart and desire needed to win,” said Mr. Roig.

Ms. Minakhina was running like a pro in the two-day contest showing no fear on the track. She rolled to an easy victory in the 100 meter hurdles with a sensational time of 15.94. Her preliminary time of 15.73 was the fastest time for her heat. Her teammate, freshman Jewel Killpack, placed sixth in 17.96.

Keith is very impressed with Minakhina’s ability. “I know how fast Anna is. Not many athletes in Group One can contend with her speed. She is a phenomenal athlete,” Keith said.

Anna finished sixth in the 400 meter hurdles in 1:11.43, second in the high jump with a leap of 4-10 and led the 1600 meter relay team to a fourth place finish with a time of 4:19.78. “Last year I only ran the 1600 relay once. I haven’t run a clean race in this event yet. It was good but tiring,” Anna added.

Running alongside Anna in the race were senior Rebecca Chant, junior Esder Chong and freshman Yasmine Lekhal.  “I felt good running to the level that I was expecting,” said Ms. Minakhina. In the high jump I felt really good coming in and was nervous when trying a different height. I wanted to jump five feet,” Anna added.

In the 1600 meters, Rebecca finished eighth with a time of 5:42.58. Ms. Lekhal was 12th with a time of 5:55.62 and Katy Villeda placed 16th with a time of 6:08.39. In the 200, Ms. Davila was 11th in 28.70. In the 800 meters, Rebecca finished sixth with a time of 2:29.52, Yasmine placed 13th in 2:38.47 and Katy was 15th in 2:47.60. Senior Zoe Hudgins placed sixth in the discus with a throw of 80-09.

In the 3200 meter relay the quartet of Ms. Lekhal , Ms. Villeda, freshman Liz Girvan and Ms. Chant helped  Highland Park to a third place finish with a time of 10:42.45. The third-place finish in the team standings was a major accomplishment for the school.

“We’ve never placed this high. The team all performed within themselves,“ said Coach Roig.

On the boys’side, the 800 meters featured a solid performance from junior Luke Schroeder, who finished ninth in 2:09.12, a personal best for him. Mr. Schroeder ran the 400 meters and placed 15th in 53.93.  “I felt really good about my performance,” Luke said.

His teammates in the 800 meters included senior Caleb Espy, who placed 27th in 2:23.53 and junior Gordon Szabo, who placed 38th in 2:29.09. In the 4×800 relay, the quartet of Mr. Espy, Mr. Szabo, freshman Matt Landis and Mr. Schroeder placed 10th in 9:36.95.

In the 1600 meters, sophomore Ethan Bull placed 14th in 5:01.15 and finished eighth in the 3200 in 10:33.14. Junior Tiger Li ran the 1600 and placed 35th in 5:32.92. Tiger Li finished 26th in the 3200 in 11:50.75. Freshman Peter Tilton of Highland Park was 30th in the 3200 in 12:45.25.

In the 100 meter dash, junior Ogemdi Nwadike tied for 20th in 24.94. Noah Pointer of Highland Park did not compete in the long jump competition last Saturday, because of an injury. He finished tied for eighth in the high jump after a Friday leap of 5-07. Junior Farhan Rozaidi earned a ninth-place finish in the triple jump with a leap of 37-02, and placed 16th in the long jump with a leap of 17-01 ¼.

The girls’ team looks to continue its good fortune during this weekend’s State Group meet to be held Friday, May 29th and Saturday, May 30 at Egg Harbor Township High School.

“Both teams are a family who care about each other and all coach each other’s performances,” Coach Roig said.


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