Raiders add second straight sectional championship to stellar 2022 campaign

The Hillsborough High School girls outdoor track & field team celebrate winning its second straight sectional championship on June 4 in Howell.

It’s been a spring of gold for the Hillsborough High School girls outdoor track & field team, and that continued during the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV Championships last weekend at Howell High School.

For the second year in a row, the Raiders finished atop the team standings during the two-day sectional meet, edging out both Montgomery High School and Howell to win their seventh overall sectional championship.

“Anytime you win, it feels great,” said Hillsborough girls spring track & field Coach Richard Refi. “We had a lot of girls perform well. Everyone continues to rise to the occasion week after week.”

The sectional championship marks the fifth championship the Raiders have won this spring.

Hillsborough previously won the Somerset County Relay championship, its 11th Somerset County championship, a Skyland Conference-Delaware Division title and won the Skyland Conference championship for the ninth time in program history.

Refi said he couldn’t be prouder of the great success his group of Raiders have had this spring. He credited the team’s accomplishments to “hard work and [the will to continue] to follow in the footsteps of championship teams that have come before them.”

“We’ve come a long way these last few months,” Refi said of his team. “I’m very proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.”

Every point mattered in the meet for Hillsborough, who scored a total of 72 points to edge out Montgomery (66) and Howell (64) to place first overall in the team standings.

It was the team’s “depth” of talent in every event that led them to outlast the rest of the field and win, Refi said.

Hillsborough saw 19 girls earn a medal during the meet to help the team bring home a sectional championship.

Sophomore Sabrina Sardar brought home four medals as part of her great performance on the track for the Raiders.

Individually, Sardar earned a bronze medal in both the 400 meter dash and the 400 meter hurdles, and added a fifth place finish in the 200 meter dash.

Sardar was also part of Hillsborough’s 4×400 meter relay team with Sarah Wnorowski and Arianna and Ayanna Coords, which placed third at the sectional tournament.

Hillsborough placed in the top-three in all three of the relay events during the meet.

The team of Wnorowski, Ernestina Danquah, Chloe Bynes and Elom Acolatse raced to a first place finish in the 4×100 meter relay with a winning time of 50.13 seconds.

Anna King, Lisa O’Sullivan, Lauren Baker and Preeta Joshi made up Hillsborough’s 4×800 meter relay team that placed third in the event.

“We scored 22 points in the relay (events),” Refi said. “That’s where we won the meet. Our depth contributed a lot to those results.”

Danquah (fifth place) and Acolatse (sixth place) each provided points for Hillsborough in the 100 meter dash.

In the distance running events, sophomore Laina Denys raced her season-best time of 5:15.31 for a sixth-place finish in the event in the 3,200 meter run.

A big strength for Hillsborough this spring has been its throwers and that stayed true in the sectional tournament with the Raiders having two placement winners in each of the three events – javelin, shot put and discus.

Sophomore Michaela Ruffa threw a season best of 37 feet and two inches to win a silver medal in the shot put. In the discus, Ruffa’s mark of 103-1 earned her a fourth-place finish in the event.

Senior Akosua Boateng tossed a throw of 34-5 to place fourth in the shot put, while teammate Claudia DeRasmo scored a point for the Raiders in the discus with a sixth-place finish.

In the javelin, Hillsborough had two throwers place in the top-four, starting with Kayla Lockburner winning a bronze medal and Anna Dao earning a fourth place finish.

Hillsborough added two more medals in both the pole vault and triple jump competitions.

Sophomore Ella Karolewski cleared a mark of nine feet and six inches to place fourth in the pole vault. Freshman Chloe Montgomery earned a sixth place finish in the triple jump with a mark of 34-5.

Both marks recorded by Karolewski and Montgomery are season bests for the sophomore and freshman.

It’s now on to the NJSIAA Group IV Championships for Hillsborough, which will run from June 10-11 at Franklin High School. Those who place in the top three of an individual event will automatically qualify for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions scheduled to take place on June 18 in Somerset.