Hillsborough girls’ winter track team captures first state title

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The Hillsborough High School winter track and field team celebrates winning the program's first state championship at the NJSIAA Group 4 Tournament on Feb. 29.PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROCCO MAZZAGATTI
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The Hillsborough High School girls' winter track and field team celebrates winning the Skyland Conference Indoor championship on Jan. 26.PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROCCO MAZZAGATTI
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The Hillsborough High School winter track and field team celebrates winning the program's first state championship at the NJSIAA Group 4 Tournament on Feb. 29.PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROCCO MAZZAGATTI
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The Hillsborough High School girls' winter track and field team celebrates winning the Skyland Conference Indoor championship on Jan. 26.PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROCCO MAZZAGATTI

It was a banner winter all around the track for the Hillsborough High School girls’ indoor track and field team.

Hillsborough outdueled Ridge High School to bring home the Skyland Conference championship to Raider Nation on Jan. 26, and continued its success into the NJSIAA Group 4 meet, where the Raiders captured their first state title in program history on Feb. 29.

“We’ve been successful for a long time and have been close to winning the state title,” said Hillsborough coach Richard Refi. “We got it done this year. We covered every event well. It was great to see.”

Refi led the Hillsborough High School girls’ cross-country team to four state championships in five years from 2010-2014.

The Raiders topped Ridge, 84-80, at the Skyland Conference Indoor Championships that were held at Rauch Fieldhouse in Bethlehem, Pa.

Hillsborough grabbed the top two spots in the 55-meter hurdles, seeing junior Kirstyn Schechter and senior Shelsea Rigby place first and second, respectively, in the event.

Schechter topped her teammate by .11 seconds with a time of 8.69 to score one of her three medals on the day.

The junior grabbed two second-place finishes in the 55 meter dash and the high jump. Schechter also scored points for Hillsborough by coming in fourth place in the 400 meter dash.

At the Group 4 Championships that were held at John Bennett Indoor Sports Complex in Toms River, Schechter came up strong with two top-two placements for the Raiders.

Schechter was crowned a state champion in the high jump with a top mark of five feet and four inches, while taking home silver in the 55 meter hurdles.

“She can do pretty much anything we ask of her,” Refi said of Schechter. “She’s a great competitor.”

Schechter medaled at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions on March. 8 at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Facility in Staten Island, placing third in the 55 meter hurdles.

The junior holds program records in the high jump and both the 55 meter dash and the 55 meter hurdles.

Senior Brielle Kelly showcased her talents in the circle as one of the best girls’ shot putters in the state this winter for Hillsborough.

Kelly’s 40 foot and 11 inch toss helped her bring home gold at the Skyland Conference Indoor Championships. Hillsborough scored another placement in the top-three with senior Ciera Appau placing third in the shot put.

To help Hillsborough seize its first state championship, Kelly scored a second place finish in the shot put, giving the Raiders three top-two finishes in the meet.

Kelly also took home silver at the Meet of Champions.

Junior Neev Agarwal was solid in the jumping events to help the Raiders bring home a conference title.

Agarwal grabbed two silver medals in the long jump and triple jump events, while also scoring Hillsborough points with a fifth place finish in the high jump.

Junior Sia Mahajan ran tough to place fourth in the 800 meter run to give Hillsborough some much needed points to win the conference championship.

Hillsborough’s 4×400 relay team of Schechter, Rigby, Mahajan and Lara Leitz rolled to victory at the NJSIAA Group 4 Relay Championships on Jan. 19 with a winning time of 4:04.87.

The Raiders finished second behind Hunterdon Central Regional High School in the team standings at the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional meet on Feb. 22.

After an impressive winter and capturing the program’s first state championship since winter track became an NJSIAA regulated sport back in 1997, Refi claims all the squad’s success over the years to his student-athletes and coaching staff.

“The credit goes to the assistant coaches and the athletes,” Refi said. “They have all worked hard to help this program be successful.”

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports