It was a banner two days of spring track and field action for the Hillsborough High School girls track & field team last weekend at the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV Championships held at Long Branch High School.
The Raiders saw their talented group of young ladies shine brightly from the track to the field to help them win their first sectional title in seven years.
Led by a terrific group of senior athletes in Kirstyn Schechter, Jayde McDermid, Neev Agarwal and Sia Mahajan, Hillsborough racked up an impressive 137.25 points to finish atop the team rankings, beating second-place Hunterdon Central High School by 66 points for the overall team championship.
“It feels very good,” said Hillsborough girls track & field Coach Richard Refi about winning a sectional championship. “It shows we have good balance all-around as a team. I’m very happy with the success our team has had this season.”
The 137.25 points scored by the Raiders is the most ever by any girls track and field team in a Group IV state meet, according to Refi.
He also said it is the largest margin of victory by a team to win a sectional championship as well.
It’s the fifth sectional championship in program history for the Raiders. Hillsborough also won the Skyland Conference championship earlier this spring.
Schechter had a brilliant couple of days of action on the track and in the field during the sectional meet for the Raiders, scoring a team-high 32 points by grabbing a bronze medal or better in each of her four events.
The senior took home a gold medal in two events.
She placed first in the triple jump with a winning mark of 36 feet and 6.5 inches, while also anchoring Hillsborough’s 4×400 relay team to a first-place finish on the track with a time of 4:05.48.
Schechter secured a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:03.89. She added a bronze medal to her ledger with a third-place finish in the 400-meter dash.
“She’s been running strong on the track all season,” Refi said of Schechter.
McDermid, Agarwal and Mahajan scored points in each of the four events they competed in during the sectional tournament.
Mahajan and McDermid were part of both the first-place 4×400 relay team and also helped Hillsborough’s 4×800 relay squad take home a bronze medal.
McDermid earned another bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles and took home a fifth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles.
Mahajan helped Hillsborough place in the top three in two more events. Her time of 2:23.06 in the 800-meter run gave her another bronze medal for the tournament.
She also helped Hillsborough’s 4×100 relay squad place third in the meet.
Agarwal had a terrific day in the field, placing second in the long jump with a mark of 17 feet and .75 inches and also taking home a third-place finish in the triple jump. The senior also contributed points to the team with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles.
Hillsborough had two or more athletes place in the top five of eight events during the tournament.
Freshman Lania Denys scored in four events for the Raiders, led by a second-place finish in the 1,600-meter run.
Junior Sarah Wnorowski scored medals as a contributor on both Hillsborough’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay squads, and also earned a top-five place finish in the 400-meter dash.
In the three throwing events, juniors Claudia DeRasmo and Akosua Boateng both took home first-place medals for the Raiders in the discus and shot put, respectively.
DeRasmo won gold in the discus with a throw of 118 feet and four inches. A mark of 34 feet and eight inches in the shot pot helped Boateng earn a gold medal.
Boateng’s throw was just four inches farther than teammate Michaela Ruffa’s mark to take second, giving the Raiders a one-two finish in the event.
Junior Khadijah Colburn scored points in the javelin for Hillsborough with a fifth-place finish.
The all-around performance by the Raiders was a great sight to see for Refi, who believes the squad had the capability to win a sectional championship last season, which was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hillsborough did win the NJSIAA Group IV indoor track & field championship in 2020.
“We would have been very competitive with the seniors from this year and seniors we had last year together,” Refi said. “We didn’t get a chance to see that last spring. This championship made up for it.”
The focus for the Raiders will shift to the NJSIAA Group IV Championships that will be held at Franklin High School this weekend. Those who place in the top three of an individual event will automatically qualify for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions that is scheduled to take place on June 19 at South Plainfield High School.
Refi said he is looking forward to seeing his squad compete at the Group IV state championships and hopes to see some of his athletes qualify for the Meet of Champions.
“Qualifying for the Meet of Champions is no easy accomplishment,” he said. “It shows who put the time in and has great ability.”