By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
It’s been a dream year for the Kearny High School girls’ track and field program.
It started in the indoor season, when the Kardinals captured the Hudson County Track Coaches Association championship.
It continued when spring began and the Kardinals took home the top prize from the HCTCA Relays.
And the fantastic campaign went one step further last week, when the Kards won the HCTCA team championship at the meet held at Secaucus High School.
It marks the first time ever that Kearny won the HCTCA Relays and the overall outdoor title in the same year.
“We’re ecstatic to win the championship,” said Kearny head coach Al Perez. “We’ve developed a culture of winning with this team. The kids really get pumped up when there’s a big meet. These are meets we can win and we go after them. We’re on a great run right now. We just go and try to get the next one.”
Perez said that he was a little leery of the competition coming into the county meet.
“Going in, I knew North Bergen was tough and Secaucus had an up and coming team,” Perez said. “They were definitely on the radar. St. Dominic is always tough, so you never know what’s going to happen.”
But Perez had faith in his team.
“We had been getting contributions from so many kids,” Perez said. “We were even getting multiple points in the same events. When you’re in an event like the county meet, you need to have girls who can get multiple points in multiple events.”
Leading the way for the Kards was senior Haley Durning, who won three events and finished fourth in a fourth event.
Durning won the high jump, the 400-meter intermediate hurdles and the 100-meter hurdles, while finishing fourth in the long jump. It meant that Durning personally provided 36 of Kearny’s 109 points.
“She came to play,” Perez said. “She was a key member to our success.”
Durning wasn’t the lone Kardinal to shine at the county championships.
Melanie Garcia won the javelin.
Noemi Campos was second to Durning in the 400-meter hurdles.
Erika Alzamora and Aislinn Sroczynski finished second and third respectively in the 1,600-meter run and third and fourth respectively in the 3200-meter run. Sroczynski also gained a medal by finishing fourth in the 800-meter run.
And the 4×400-meter relay team of Justine Curtis, Mariah Davila, Noemi Campos and Anna Czykier won the event, gaining another key 10 points for the team cause. Czykier also finished second in the 400 meters.
“They all did their part,” Perez said. “It was a great achievement for them. I told them that they were all part of a championship, something that they can never take away from you.”
It was a total team effort once again for the Kardinals, giving them 109 total team points. Upstart Secaucus was second with 93 points and North Bergen third.
But Kearny had the team title for the third straight time in HCTCA meets.
All in all, another great day for the Kardinals. They head to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV championships this weekend at Ridge High School. Winning there would really make the season extra special.
Mendez wanted to give credit to his assistant coaches, namely Jim Cifelli, John Kyznowski, Mandy Lavelle and Vin Almeida.