It was a terrific start to the new year for the Hillsborough High School girls winter track team during the Somerset County Championships on Jan. 3 at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Facility in Staten Island, New York.
Competing under relay tournament rules, the Raiders took home the top team prize out of the eight high schools participating in the meet.
Hillsborough tallied 64 points as a team to beat the 52 points scored by Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School to place first in the competition.
Winning the Somerset County title this winter adds to the list of accomplishments the Raiders have accrued over the past few winter and spring track seasons as a team.
Hillsborough won both the Skyland Conference and NJSIAA Group IV championships during the 2019-20 winter track season.
Last spring, the Raiders took home another Skyland Conference title on the way to placing first at the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV Championships for their fifth sectional championship.
The recent string of success by his squad is something Hillsborough Coach Richard Refi takes a lot of pride in, especially with a new group of girls leading the Raiders to a championship this winter.
“It’s nice anytime you bring home a trophy,” Refi said about winning the Somerset County Championships. “This is a new group of kids getting opportunities to compete. It was awesome to see them do well.”
Hillsborough captured gold in four competitions during the relay tournament.
The quartet of Siena Sowers, Ella Karolewski, Sophie Mantegna and Anastasia Ramirez took home the gold medal for the Raiders in the 4×55 meter shuttle hurdle relay with a time of 42.97 seconds.
In the sprint medley relay, Hillsborough placed first in the event by topping Bridgewater-Raritan with a winning time of 4:31.74. Both 200 meter parts of the relay were run by Chloe Montgomery and Chloe Bynes. Sophomore Sabrina Sardar ran the 400 meter portion of the relay, while sophomore Laina Denys finished off the race by running the 800 meter leg.
Hillsborough edged out Bridgewater-Raritan again for the top spot in the 4×800 meter relay, which was run by the team of Preeta Joshi, Lauren Barker, Sophia Stahl and Anna King for a time of 10:34.8.
The senior duo of Akosua Boateng and Claudia DeRasmo brought home gold for the Raiders in the circle during the shot put relay competition.
Boateng threw the top mark at the meet with a throw of 35 feet and 11.75 inches, while DeRasmo tossed 25 feet and 11 inches on her best attempt to help Hillsborough win the only throwing event.
Hillsborough grabbed second place finishes in the sprint medley relay, and in both the 4×200 and 4×400 meter relay races.
Bynes, Montgomery and Arianna and Ayanna Coords were the group of Hillsborough runners who grabbed silver in the 4×200 meter relay, earning a time of 1:53.72.
The Coords twins would then team up with Sardar and King in the 4×400 meter relay race and secure a second place finish with a time of 4:28.50 for the Raiders.
King, Sardar, Joshi and Denys combined for a time of 13:36.05 in the distance medley relay.
Hillsborough also had members of its team earn top placements during the open event portions of the meet.
Sophomore Liana Dudajek headlined those participants for the Raiders by placing first in the one-mile run with a winning time of 5:45.56.
Teammates Nivedha Sundarrajan and Lisa O’Sullivan finished right behind Dudajek for second and third place in the event to help Hillsborough sweep the top three spots in the one-mile run.
Senior Breanna Schechter tied for first place in the high jump with a mark of 4 feet and 4 inches for the Raiders. Karolewski earned a second place finish in the long jump with a mark of 14 feet and 2.5 inches.
The Somerset County Championships were postponed last year due to COVID-19 and because the winter track season was shortened.
Just like the Somerset County Championships, Refi knows every meet his team gets to compete in this winter will be very important to them.
“It’s important for the kids,” Refi said. “It’s a good outlet for them. I’m happy they got to compete in this meet.”
The Raiders will have their eyes set on bringing home another Skyland Conference title when the Skyland Conference Championships are held on Jan. 23.