HOWELL – The Howell High School girls track and field program saw two of its athletes compete and win medals at the 2022 NJSIAA Meet of Champions on June 18 at Franklin High School in Somerset County.
Senior sprinter Laura Gugliotta and junior jumper Samantha Strydesky represented the Rebels in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s season-ending meet that brings together the best track and field athletes from high schools of all sizes in the Garden State.
Strydesky brought home a Meet of Champions title for Howell as she won the gold medal in the high jump.
Gugliotta won a silver medal and a bronze medal in the two events in which she competed – the 400-meter dash and the 200-meter dash.
Howell Coach Kevin Dee said, “It was pretty amazing. You don’t normally get two kids to perform like that at that level. They are both great girls and they did a great job.”
Gugliotta, who will join the University of Pennsylvania track and field program in the upcoming academic year, said she was excited to conclude her high school career by capturing two medals at the Meet of Champions.
Gugliotta claimed the silver medal in the 400-meter dash by posting a second place time of 56.91 seconds. In the 200-meter dash, she claimed the bronze medal by posting a third place time of 25.23 seconds.
“Placing in both events was very exciting. I was hoping to be able to do that. It was really cool to cap off my career like that,” she said.
At the 2021 Meet of Champions, Gugliotta placed third in the 400-meter dash and fifth in the 200-meter dash.
The week prior to the Meet of Champions, Gugliotta earned three medals at the Group IV state championship meet.
She ran a personal best time of 55.17 in the 400-meter dash and placed second, which earned her the silver medal.
In the 200-meter dash, Gugliotta finished third in a personal best time of 24.59 to earn the bronze medal. In the 100-meter dash, she placed third to earn the bronze medal.
Earlier, Gugliotta won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races at the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional meet and at the Shore Conference Championships.
All of that success feels surreal for Gugliotta as she looks back on her time at Howell.
From breaking 60 seconds in the 400-meter dash to earning multiple medals at the Meet of Champions, Gugliotta could not be more excited about her achievements at the high school level.
“It was overall very special,” she said of her senior season. “It’s crazy looking back to see how much has changed and how far I have come over the past few years.”
Strydesky completed an outstanding junior campaign for the Rebels.
After winning the gold medal in the high jump at the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional meet, Strydesky jumped a personal best of 5 feet, 8 inches at the Group IV state meet to win a state group championship.
That performance was a confidence booster for Strydesky, who jumped 5-8 at the Meet of Champions to win the gold medal and the overall state crown in the event.
Although she may not have been expecting this level of success when the season began, Strydesky said she was very proud to see all of her hard work pay off at the end of the campaign.
“It felt really nice to win (at the Meet of Champions). It was definitely very surreal,” she said.
With her senior season on the horizon, Strydesky and Dee believe there is still room for improvement that could lead to a second Meet of Champions crown.
“I have no doubt that (Strydesky) can reclaim her championship. A full off-season of training will help get her stronger for next year,” Dee said.
During the spring of 2022, Howell won its first Monmouth County team championship and placed third as a team at the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional meet.
During the 2021-22 winter season, the Rebels won the Monmouth County crown and the Shore Conference championship.
“We had an historic season. We were a very strong team. I really appreciated working with all the girls we had. I made a lot of friends on the team,” Gugliotta said.