The year 2023 has begun with bang for the Hillsborough High School girls winter track team.
Fresh off placing first at the Somerset County Championships for the second year in a row last week, the Raiders added more gold to their ledger at the Skyland Conference Championships that were held on Jan. 8 at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Facility in Staten Island, N.Y.
Hillsborough collected an outstanding 90 points as a team to place first out of the 14 high schools competing in the tournament to win its first conference championship since 2020.
The victory was a “complete team effort” as head coach Richard Refi said in an interview with centraljersey.com.
“It was a great performance across the board,” said Refi on Hillsborough winning the conference championship. “Everyone contributed.”
The Raiders scored a Top-6 finish in 11 out of the 12 events that took place at the conference tournament.
Sophomore Chloe Montgomery won the lone gold medal for the Raiders in the triple jump with a mark of 34 feet and three inches.
Teammate Cira Palmera added more points in the triple jumps with a fifth place finish. Palmera also scored a fourth place finish in the high jump for the Raiders.
Hillsborough won a silver medal in both the pole vault and long jump.
Junior Ella Karolewski posted a 10-6 mark in the pole vault for Hillsborough to win a silver medal. Freshman Emma Stibitz jumped a personal best 15-7.5 to place second in the long jump.
In the shot put, Hillsborough took both second and third place with senior Michaela Ruffa earning a silver medal with a throw of 33-7, while teammate Jessica Galette finished right behind her with a season-best toss of 32-10.25 for a bronze medal.
On the track, junior Sabrina Sardar collected three medals for the Raiders. The best finish for Sardar came in the 400 meter dash when she ran a time of 59.18 seconds to place second in the event.
The junior went on to place fourth in the 800 meter run and added another fourth place finish as part of Hillsborough’s 4×400 meter relay team. Stibitz, Zoe Amofa and Stella Martinez rounded out the rest of runners that competed on the Hillsborough 4×400 meter relay squad.
Amofa ran a season-best 9.02 seconds in the 55 meter hurdles to win a silver medal as well at the conference meet. Senior Siena Sowers placed right behind Amofa to win Hillsborough a bronze medal as well in the event.
In the 55 meter dash, seniors Elom Acolatse (7.57 seconds) and Ernestina Danquah (7.6 seconds) finished third and fourth respectively for the Raiders.
“Our hurdlers and runners in the 55 meter dash really stepped up,” Refi added.
Hillsborough saw senior Anna King (11:39.56) and junior Liana Dudajek (11:48.74) post a fifth and sixth place finish respectively in the 3,200 meter run.
Junior Lisa O’Sullivan provided points for Hillsborough with a fifth place in the 800 meter run.
The success his team has had at both the county and conference championships is no surprise to Refi, who says Hillsborough has the talent in all to compete against anyone in the state.
“They want to rise to the occasion and win,” Refi said of his team. “They are always happy to see me walking over to them with a trophy.”
Hillsborough will look to add more championship hardware to its ledger at the NJSIAA Group IV Relays Championships on Jan. 14 at the Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River.
“Anytime you win two championships, it;s already a good season and we have more that we want to do,” Refi said.