By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
There was certainly plenty of sports achievement to write about this week.
In baseball, Harrison advanced to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I semifinals for the first time in a decade. The Blue Tide received some clutch pitching from Tommy Dolaghan down the stretch and the Blue Tide survived an 11-10 slugfest against Dunellen to reach the semifinals.
In softball, Lyndhurst went all the way to the North Jersey Section 2, Group I championship game before falling to top-seeded Hanover Park in the finals. Coach Elaine Catanese loses pitcher Casey Zdanek and catcher Julie Schneidenbach to graduation from this year’s 20-win team, but the rest of the team returns next year.
In track and field, Lyndhurst’s Nathan Daquilla finished sixth at the NJISAA’s Group I championships in the pole vault, earning a trip to the Meet of Champions.
In track, Queen of Peace fared well in both the boys and girls Non- Public B championships.
Kevin Monmohin won four medals, winning the 100-meter hurdles, finishing second in the 200-meter dash, fifth in the 400-meter dash and fourth in the triple jump. That’s four medals for the talented Golden Griffin junior.
Teammate Michael Akanbi was second in the 110-meter high hurdles.
As for the QP girls, Natalie Negroni won the 400-meter hurdles and fourth in the 100-meter hurdles.
Lia Rodriguez, who is developing into one of the best female athletes in the area, finished second in the long jump. Rodriguez is also a standout soccer player as a goalkeeper and as a basketball player.
The Rozalski sisters, Cas and Michelle, both earned medals in the pole vault. Cas was second and Michelle was sixth.
The QP 4×400-meter relay finished third, helping the Golden Griffins finish sixth overall as a team, which is quite an accomplishment.
But the real achievement of the week belongs to Lyndhurst’s Camila Alonso, who finished second in the javelin and fourth in the discus at the North 2, Group I championships.
Alonso threw the javelin 129 feet and the discus 107 feet to earn the two medals.
What makes it noteworthy is that Alonso did not compete in track and field last year as a junior.
Of course, Alonso is the 1,000-point scorer at Lyndhurst in basketball who had a 46-point game earlier in the year.
Alonso was coaxed back into competing in track and field thanks to assistant coach Anthony Immediate, who was a fine athlete in the javelin when he was at Lyndhurst.
“Coach Immediate said that I could do good things,” Alonso said. “He’s a very good coach and I knew what he was talking about and what he’s doing. I was a little rusty when I came back.”
Alonso said that she was stuck at 111 feet until Immediate tweaked her approach.
“For a while, I stayed at 111 feet, but I kept working at it. I’m a little surprised that I was able to do what I do. It’s a good feeling to do it. I like track. It’s a lot of fun.”
Lyndhurst girls’ track and field coach Kim Hykey, a great athlete during her time at Lyndhurst and who remains the all-time leader in goals scored in soccer at her school, likes the way Alonso developed.
“I’m so glad she came back out for track,” Hykey said. “She’s a great kid and a super athlete, but she’s an even better kid. We knew in sophomore year what she was capable of. It was so disappointing that she didn’t come out. After her great basketball season, we didn’t push her to come back out. But we did tell her that she had the ability to do something special.”
Hykey will accompany her athlete to the NJSIAA Meet of Champions this week.
“Who knows what she would have been able to do if she was on the team last year?” Hykey said. “She’s just so coachable. Anthony did such a great job working with her, training her and making her so competitive. It’s nice to watch her keep getting better.”
Hykey charted it out to find that Alonso is currently 10th in the state in the javelin.
“If she throws her personal best at the Meet of Champions, who knows what can happen?” Hykey said. “I think she has 140 or 150 in her.”
Nothing would surprise either coach or athlete at this point. Only outsiders are surprised with her prowess.
“It feels pretty good,” Alonso said. “I do feel I can do better, but this is amazing.”
Sure is. It’s beyond remarkable.
“I’m definitely a better basketball player,” said Alonso, who is still undecided about her future.
“Maybe I’d like to keep throwing the javelin as well. It’s a lot of fun.”
It could become even more fun in the days to come.