By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – After months of wrangling with his employer, the Kearny Board of Education, Frank Ferraro has tendered his resignation as Kearny superintendent of schools, effective Nov. 1. Ferraro, who was facing the threat of being fired after the board had brought tenure charges […]
KEARNY – A 13-year school employee has been promoted to vice principal assigned to Kearny High School. Paul Measso, 37, was appointed to his new job Oct. 20 at an annual salary of $128,163 (pro-rated), pending receipt of his principal certificate of eligibility from Trenton. He completed a master’s degree […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – The town’s first affordable residence for senior citizens at 774 Harrison Ave. is getting ever closer to reality. As construction of the 15-unit building nears completion, the sponsor, Domus Corp., the housing arm of Catholic Charities of Newark, has begun the process […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – When Kearny Vice Squad detectives busted a Newark man for drug possession/distribution Oct. 17 on Maple St., they reported recovering 135 folds of heroin. While the suspect was languishing in the Hudson County Jail on $40,000 bail, the KPD […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent EAST NEWARK – A court ruling has cleared the way – over objections by Harrison – for a Nov. 4 nonbinding referendum asking borough voters, “Should East Newark high school students be sent to Kearny High School instead of Harrison High School?” Harrison Board […]
By Lisa Pezzolla
Summer seems to be approaching us faster, since we have had warm days and the pleasure of not dealing with the ice cold. Anticipating swimsuit season becomes a dreadful experience when we realize we’ve allowed the winter blues to get the better of us. We kick up our exercise routine, eat lots of salads and look in the mirror in horror as we pinch and suck in as we try to get rid of the unwanted inches.
Unfortunately, the covers of magazines and the catwalk show models at an unrealistic weight giving woman and young ladies an image that skinny is sexy. I was amazed to hear that this newest craze is evident among young boys, to the point of anorexia, ending in death. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, at least one million males in the United States are battling anorexia or bulimia. Since it is such a new phase, statistics may not be correct since boys are embarrassed to admit it. What viewers don’t realize is airbrushing and lighting are magnificent tools that are used to simulate perfection.
This controversy about body image image is a serious problem and can affect your health and well being. Over the years the pressures of the models have also caused young people to turn to drugs and eating disorders which can end in death. Eating healthy and exercise should be balanced – not taken to the extreme where it consumes your well-being.
Yes – but not the way you might think
Growing up in Kearny, I can honestly say I’ve felt safe and protected, regardless of what part of town I was in or what I was doing.
That’s why after reading an article via Kearny on the Web, I was stunned that an Associated Press (AP) reporter labeled Kearny as “gritty.” The article was in reference to the Leonardo Parera shooting in Mountain Lakes last October.
As in all AP articles, the actual writer is not listed; at any rate, the quote was used as an attempt to paint a contrast between co-workers Christine King and the mysterious shooter Parera.
The author writes, “The 47-year-old King, a mother of two, lived in rural Oak Ridge, about 15 miles north of her job, while Parera lived about 20 miles southeast in Kearny, a gritty town sandwiched between Newark and Jersey City.”
That quote got me thinking: Is Kearny actually a gritty town?
In the context used here, gritty means rough, similar to perceptions of Jersey City and Newark and the crime that takes place there.
I’ll say it here: In no way, shape, or form, is Kearny as crime-ridden and “gritty” as those two cities.
I lived in North Philadelphia from 2007 to 2011 while I was attending La Salle University and returned to home to Kearny almost a year ago. Not once have I likened the “grittiness” I experienced there to anything that has taken place in Kearny.
While in Philadelphia, walking around the streets took a sense of being “street smart,” knowing that I have to watch what I do and not be too careless. I was never robbed or assaulted, but I knew several people who were, mainly because they did not have the sense to just walk away.
Now that I’m home, I can roam Kearny streets at night and not feel threatened about what is going on around me.
Kearny Police, despite the budget cuts they have experienced, do a great job keeping many of the issues of Jersey City and Newark out of our town.
However, in another version of gritty, and the one that I mostly associate with, the word means persistent.
Residents of Kearny have always been gritty in this sense of the word. There are people that continue to fight every day against life’s struggles. It’s no surprise that the recent economic downturn has affected many in Kearny, many residents maintain two jobs just to survive, but not once do you see them throw their hands in the air and just simply give up.
While Kearny is not a gritty town in terms of its violent nature, it is, however, gritty in its persistent approach to life, and that’s something town residents should be proud of.
- Anthony J. Machcinski
The Observer would like to apoligize to Larry Maleszewski. In last week’s story, “St. Patrick’s Day parade expects record turnout” from Page 2, we credited the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation for his photo of Parade Grand Marshal Laurence Bennet and Dep. Grand Marshal Michael O’ Donnell. The photo credit should read, “Photos of last year’s United Irish Associations of West Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade by Larry Maleszewski.
Police are urging residents to be wary of criminals attempting to exercise what Chief John Dowie characterized as “bump and rob” attacks on drivers.
At 8 p.m. on Feb 19, a Kearny woman operating a vehicle southbound on Ivy St. was struck by what appeared to be a Suburu near the King St. intersection after she’d stopped at the stop sign. The woman then exited her car to assess the damage and exchange information with the other driver.
At that time, the other driver emerged wearing a black ski mask and brandishing a handgun, threw her to the ground and demanded the keys to her car. An accomplice, also masked and armed with a black revolver, exited the Suburu and the pair tried to remove the woman’s 8-year-old son from her vehicle, but eventually gave up and sped off in the Suburu.
Police said the woman managed to recompose herself and called Kearny Police. Officer Brian Wisely was the first to respond, followed by Dets. Ray Lopez and John Telle. After getting a description of the suspects’ vehicle, they learned that a vehicle of similar description had been involved in crimes in Seacaucus, Lyndhurst, and North Arlington. That car is described as a Silver 2003 Suburu Impreza and it is believed it could still be in the hands of criminals.
Dowie cautioned residents to be alert for drivers using a strategy similar to that employed by the two gunmen. “They want your car when the motor’s running because it’s easier to steal that way,” he said. “Parked cars – especially the newer models – can be hard to start.”
Drivers who’ve stopped for a light or stop sign should exercise caution when dealing with a driver bumping the rear of their car. “If you don’t feel right about it, don’t exchange information until the police get there. If you are confronted where you are obligated to comply, turn over your stuff, we don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Try to get a description, license plate and a direction of flight if possible and call the police. Don’t try to be a hero,” Dowie said.
In other criminal activities logged the past week by Kearny Police:
On Friday Feb. 17, Officer James Mackintosh reported to the 200 block of Hickory St. in response to a burglary at a residence. The burglers broke in through a window off an enclosed porch. An investigation culminated on Feb. 23 when Kearny Police arrested brothers William and Scott McCurley, 27 and 31, respectively. Both Kearny residents were charged with burglary, theft, and conspiracy.
Shortly before 1 p.m. the following day, Officer Chris Levchak was on patrol on Wilson Ave. and observed a 26-year-old Kearny resident sitting on a lawn drinking a can of Natural Ice beer. Levchak approached the individual to take the beer from him, but the individual would not release it and became combative, looking to fight Levchak. After refusing to calm down, he had to be taken to the ground and handcuffed. The man, 26-year-old Sidnei Antunes, was given a town ordinance for drinking in public and was additionally charged with disorderly conduct.
Later that day, Officers John Fabula and Patrick Walsh responded to a report of a fight involving weapons by N. Midland Ave. near the railroad overpass. When they arrived, they found three males armed with baseball bats and nunchucks. After seeing the officers, the individuals attempted to discard the weapons. They were eventually rounded up and detained. Police said the trio told them they’d been throwing rocks down onto vehicles from the Newark side of the bridge but were scared off and crossed to Kearny. All three were placed under arrest and charged with possession of weapons for unlawful purpose and defiant trespass. They were listed as David Fuentes, 18, of Newark, and two juveniles, 15 and 17, also of Newark.
On Feb. 19 around 3:30 a.m., Officers Luis Moran and Tom Sumowski were on patrol at Passaic Ave. and Belleville Turnpike when they spotted a vehicle that, when the light turned green, sped away from the light with tires squealing and traveling at a high rate of speed. The officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the vehicle continued to accelerate.
They followed the vehicle to the Manor section where the driver pulled into a driveway and ran into a residence. The officers woke the residents of the home and demanded the individual come to the door and account for his actions. When the man came out, police said they detected an odor of alcohol on his breath and placed him under arrest. The man, 32-year-old Kearny resident Nicolas Lozito, was charged with resisting arrest by flight, driving while intoxicated, eluding an officer, and careless driving.
On Feb 21 at 1 p.m., Det Mike Gonzalez went to a Chestnut St. location to check out the report of an intruder kicking in the door of an apartment in a two-family house, ransacking the apartment and threatening the occupant before leaving. After questioning the occupant, detectives located and arrested Andrew Polanco, 22, of Kearny, and charged him with burglary and conspiracy. Polanco was taken to the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, with bail set at $25,000.
On Feb. 23, Officer Pat Sawyer observed a vehicle fitting a description broadcast by North Arlington Police linked to an individual who had reportedly fled a domestic violence scene. Sawyer observed the vehicle in the 300 block of Belgrove Drive operating at a high rate of speed. Sawyer conducted a motor vehicle stop at Belgrove Drive and Halstead Ave. and, after confirming the driver was the man sought by North Arlington Police, placed him under arrest. He was taken to North Arlington Police Department Headquarters where he was also given a summons for careless driving.
– Anthony J. Machcinski
By Anthony J. Machcinski
As time has gone by and music has evolved, many establishments have done away with hosting original bands, giving in to the bands that play the music of an era gone by. Donegal Saloon in Kearny isn’t one of those places, which allowed the crowd to be wowed by the performance of The Jack.
Bringing a new style back to the feel of the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, The Jack classifies themselves as a jam band, evolving from their earlier days as a Rock ‘n’ Roll band.
“We came more from rock ‘n’ roll and evolved into a jam band,” said Bassist Adam Riley. “We went into more grooving stuff and wanted to let loose. Rock ‘n’ Roll will always be at the roots of our music.”
The band started in the early 90’s, as all the band members had been friends since growing up in Rutherford. The band was originally called One Eyed Jack, but when the former guitarist left, the band had to be renamed due to copyright; thus, The Jack was created, leaving the name similar to the old for simplicity’s sake.
Since The Jack’s reincarnation four years ago, the band has continued to be a mainstay in the Garden State.
“We’ve been playing Jersey for about 20 years,” said Riley. “If you play far away, you have to keep going out there. We’re at the point in our careers where we just want to consistently play.”
With families to support, the band hasn’t had the opportunity to travel outside of the state.
“(When we didn’t have families), there was a lot more freedom,” Riley noted. “Its not easy to just get up and go. We have our responsibilities at home.”
Despite familial responsibilities, the band has still managed to be successful in writing and producing their own music, a feat many musicians nowadays can’t claim.
“We’re always trying to get into the studio,” Riley explained.
When in the studio, The Jack has been able to produce their self-titled album, including five tracks that would make their predecessors proud. One track entitled “Liberty Bell” has the kind of groove found in some of the best funk songs of the ‘70s. The keyboard play of Squigs Minutello shines through the whole song, but never overpowers the performance of the other band members.
The Jack is even able to slow down their style and provide a powerful song in “Steal Your Crown.” The vocals of Kurt Balchan and Adam Riley provide a soulful performance to go over the top of Gary Gallagher’s blusier guitar playing and Alzie Sisco’s subtle drumbeat.
It is through the collective soul of the band that The Jack are able to do something not many bands can accomplish today, providing a new sound that crowds of all ages want to hear at bars, clubs, and other establishments.
“People (out-of-state) are more open-minded about the music you play,” Riley explained. “Jersey has a lot of cover bands and that’s why Donegal Saloon is so great. People just don’t expect you to play your own material.”
After playing Donegal Saloon on Feb. 24, the band will continue to play across New Jersey before booking Spring and Summer festivals around the state. To listen to the band’s music or to buy their album, visit www.thejacknj.com.
The Belleville ASA (Amateur Softball Association) announced today that they will be conducting classes during the month of March to prepare for the National ASA Softball Test. Classes will meet every Wednesday at 7 p.m., beginning March 7. The class will meet at the Belleville Recreation Department, 407 Joralemon St., Belleville. The test will be given on April 4. Passing the test and joining a local ASA association are all that is necessary to begin umpiring both fast and slow-pitch ASA games. The cost for the class and taking the test is $50. For further information, contact Steve Glassman at (973) 714 – 3060 or Leeglass@aol.com
The Bloomfield Public Library is pleased to announce the formation of a Financial Book Club, which will meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m., beginning March 6.
The first topic of discussion will be “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.
For further information or to request help in locating a copy of the book club selection, please call the Reference Desk at 973-566-6200, ext 502. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.
Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., Bloomfield announces the following events for children: Lunch with the Leprechaun will be held on Saturday, March 10, at noon. Children ages 3 to 9 will participate in arts and crafts and enjoy mini-reubens, drinks and dessert and learn some Irish dance steps. Reservations are required. Cost is $15 per person. Call 973-429-0960 to reserve your spot! No exchanges or refunds.
Brunch with the Easter Bunny will be held at Oakeside on Saturday, March 31. Children ages 3 to 9 participate in arts and crafts, receive a framed picture with the Bunny, receive a balloon and a special. There are two seatings: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cost is $15 per child and $12 per adult. Reservations are required. Call 973-429-0960 to reserve your spot.
No exchanges or refunds.
An informational program on the proposed interstate route 280 ramp improvements study is scheduled for Thursday, March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Harrison Town Hall, second floor, 318 Harrison Ave. This program is open to the public.
Harrison Recreation is holding baseball registrations until March 9 at the Harrison Community Center for ages 5 to 13 (cannot turn 13 before May 1). Any questions, call the Community Center 973-268-2469.
The Scots American Club of Kearny, 40 Patterson St., will hold a general membership meeting on March 4, at 3 p.m.
St. Cecilia Church presents: “Wine & Cheese” Tricky Tray on Saturday, March 10, to be held at St. Cecilia’s School building, 114 Chestnut St., Kearny. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., calling begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person (Includes: Admission, 25 small tickets, cheese & crackers, coffee/dessert) Cash bar-wine, beer & refreshments.
All proceeds will help support the school’s youth group and CCD program. For more information, call 201-991-1116.
Cecilian Seniors announce a trip to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City on March 14. The bus will leave at 9:30 a.m. from the front of St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny. If interested, call Johnnie B. at 201-997-9552 between 6 to 9 p.m. A trip to Wildwood is also scheduled from Sept. 9 to 13.
Kearny UNICO will hold its next monthly membership meeting on Thursday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending the meeting and/or learning more about Kearny UNICO should contact Chapter President Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409. New members are always welcome.
Kearny Public School will hold pre-k and kindergarten registration for the 2012-2012 school year. Registration is a two-step process. Proof of residency/registration will be held at Kearny High School and will be by last name: Pre-k – March 8 to 15 and kindergarten March 16 to 23. Log onto www.kearnyschools.com for complete details.
West Hudson Arts and Theater Company will present “Love Letters,” featuring the talents of Jim Hague and Mary Costello, at the Arlington Players Club, 12 Washington Place, Kearny, on Friday, Marcy 9, at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, March 10, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Visit www.whatco.org or call 201-467-8624.
All members of the community are invited to attend a free, bilingual blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screening sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., Kearny, on Saturday, March 10, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Nurses will provide individual health counseling to each person. It’s recommended that attendees refrain from eating for two hours prior to the cholesterol screenings for best results, but its not absolutely necessary.
Screenings are conducted in English and Spanish. Childcare is provided for those who need it free of charge.
For more information, please call the church office at 201-991-5894.
Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will hold a flea market on Saturday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tables are still available at a cost of $15 each or two for $25. For more information, please call the church office at 201-991-5894.
The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst, member of the GFWC/NJSFWC, will sponsor a program to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday as part of the of the National Education Association’s Read Across America program on March 1 at Lyndhurst Public Library. Past Club President Annette Bortone will read to children at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Lyndhurst Historical Society will host a program, “The Lies of the Civil War” to be presented by historian Bill Gent at the American Legion Post 139, 217 Webster Ave., Lyndhurst, on March 21 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Light refreshments will follow. For more information, call 201-939-7972.
Lyndhurst VFW Post 3549 is now hosting Zumba fitness classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon. Zumba toning with light weights is held on Fridays from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information, call Caroline at 917-517-1138 or Paulette 201-759-3440 or email email@example.com.
Meadowlands Environment Center presents Days of Art-Making, DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, on Saturdays March 3 and 10 (Same classes repeat each day): Drawing Nature will be held from 9 a.m. to noon. Fee: $30, supplies included. Watercolor Painting will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Fee: $35 including supplies; $25 if you bring your own paints and watercolor paper. Discount: Sign up for both sets of classes for $60 with paint supplies or $50 with your own supplies. Bring your own supplies, or we’ll supply them. And don’t forget to bring your lunch! For more information, 201-460-8300 or visit njmeadowlands.gov/ec
First-Sunday-of-the Month Walk with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society commences on Sunday, March 4, 10 a.m. This free two-hour walk of Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus features raptors, waterfowl and early spring migrants. The group will meet at the marsh entrance at 10 a.m. (directions are on meadowblog.net in the left-hand column), or you can also meet us at the visitors’ parking lot at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst by 9:20 a.m. to carpool. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-230-4983.
On Tuesday, March 26, starting at 2:30 p.m., a veterans ward party will be held at Chestnut Hill Extended Care Facility, Passaic. The party will be sponsored by Mary Ellen O’Connor in memory of her father James and her mother Ellen.
Games of chance will be played and distribution of refreshments will include those bedridden and restricted from the party. For more information on how you can help please call American Legion Post 139, Rehabilitation Committee, Lyndhurst, 201-438-2255.
The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst announces its annual fundraiser, “Spring Into Fashion” Sunday brunch and fashion show, on Sunday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at The Graycliff, 122 Moonachie Ave., Moonachie. There will also be a tricky tray and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $35. For tickets, please call Rosemary at 201-935-4836 or Marge at 201-694-5976. No tickets will be sold at the door.
The Lyndhurst Health Department will hold a Food for Thought Forum hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center. Annette Cozzarelli, M.D., Medical Director of Women’s Health at CMMC, along with a Gastro intestinal specialist, will be available to discuss and answer questions related to gastro intestinal illness, upset stomach, and the importance of regular cancer screenings. The forum takes places Wednesday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Health Department. Dinner will be served. Please call 201-804-2500 to reserve a seat.
The American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37, 222 River Road, North Arlington, will meet on Monday, March 5, at 8 p.m. All veterans are welcome. For more information, call 201-214-8253.
Wednesday Afternoon Knitting Club will meets every Wednesday at Nutley Public Library, from 1 to 3 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques. Please bring your own supplies.
Daphne Oz, author of “The Dorm Room Diet,” will discuss and sign her newest novel at the library on Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m.
A Teen Video Game Tourney will be held on Friday, March 9 and 23, at 3 p.m. Play Wii, Xbox or bring your DS to play each other.
A reception for Maria LaBadia, recently appointed as the Nutley Public Library director, will be held on Tuesday, March 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Stockton Room at the library. The event is being sponsored by the library’s Board of Directors and the Friends of the Nutley Public Library and is open to the public.
While she will be new to the director’s position, LaBadia is not new to Nutley. She has been a resident for nine years and both of her children are graduates of Nutley High School.
Rozalski sisters earn medals in the pole vault at NJSIAA state meet
By Jim Hague
The pole vault has almost become a rite of passage in the Rozalski household in Kearny.
First, Ziggy and Ann’s eldest daughter, Stephanie, took a liking to the sport a few years ago and eventually became a high school state sectional champion at Queen of Peace during her senior year.
Stephanie Rozalski, who still competes in the pole vault, is finishing up her undergraduate studies at Seton Hall before hoping to head off to law school.
Younger sister Michelle watched what Stephanie accomplished in the pole vault and decided that’s what she wanted to do as well.
“She was always talking about it and I saw how much fun she had doing it,” Michelle Rozalski said. “I just liked fooling around with it, but as I practiced more, I progressed. I wasn’t afraid at all, because I had been involved with gymnastics all my life.”
So when Michelle Rozalski enrolled at Queen of Peace two years ago, she decided to join her older sister in training in the pole vault.
“Stephanie taught me everything,” Michelle Rozalski said. “She taught me drills and worked with me.”
The sisters also traveled to Apex Vaulting in Oakland to work with respected instructor Branko Miric.
“It was hard at first,” Michelle Rozalski said. “In the beginning, it was very frustrating, because I would see everyone jumping over the bar, see everyone clearing and I was barely getting onto the mat.”
But Michelle was determined to becoming successful in the pole vault.
“I set my goal and I knew it was what I wanted to do,” Michelle Rozalski said. “Once it clicked in, it became a lot easier.”
In her first-ever varsity meet for Queen of Peace, Michelle Rozalski cleared 8-feet, 6-inches and won a gold medal.
“That’s when I said, `Hey, I can do this,’” Michelle Rozalski said.
Enter the youngest of the Rozalski sisters, Catherine, who prefers to go by the name of “Kas,” or “Kasia.” Kas Rozalski enrolled at QP last September as a freshman.
Considering the fact that both of her older sisters were deeply involved with the pole vault, Kas Rozalski figured that she had to join in.
“It was like a family thing that I had to do,” said Kas Rozalski, who is still an active gymnast with the Sunburst Gymnastic Club of Union. “I wanted to do it like my sisters.”
“I pulled her in,” Michelle laughed.
The youngest Rozalski sister didn’t know if she could handle the pole vault.
“At first, I looked up at the bars and saw that I had to go upside down,” Kas Rozalski said. “I thought I was going to die. But once you do it, it’s not so bad.”
However, there was the idea of being the third in a family lineage.
“Sure, there was pressure,” Kas Rozalski said. “What if I was terrible at it? I didn’t want to be the schmuck of the family.”
However, Kas also found instant success. In her very first meet this indoor season, Kas cleared 8-feet, 6-inches, just like her older sister did in her debut two years ago.
There was only one other obstacle that the Rozalski sisters had to overcome during the indoor track season. Queen of Peace doesn’t have a team. The team right now consists of just the two pole vaulting Rozalski sisters.
“We’re like Team Rozalski,” Michelle said.
Queen of Peace athletic director John Ahmuty was able to enter the sisters in a handful of meets. They combined to win the Bergen County Relays championship in the pole vault.
On Feb. 17, the two sisters traveled to the NJSIAA Non-Public B state sectional championships at the Bennett Center in Toms River.
At the meet, junior Michelle finished second overall and younger sister Kas finished fifth. They both earned medals and earned berths to compete at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, which took place Saturday, also at the Bennett Center.
At the M of C, the sisters fittingly ended up in a tie for 15th place overall, both clearing the bar at 10 feet even. It was a personal best for Kas, with Michelle, battling a shoulder injury, not getting able to clear her prior best at 10-6.
“I’m really happy that we both did well,” Michelle said. “I wasn’t in my best form, but Kas was jacked. I was happy for her.”
“I really didn’t understand it was such a big meet,” Kas said. “But I guess it was, especially when everyone made a big deal about it.”
And the two Rozalski sisters, comprising the entire indoor track and field team at Queen of Peace, were able to share the moment together, tied for 15th overall in the entire state.
So is there any competition between the two sisters?
“I expect her to do well,” Michelle said. “I want her to do well.”
“I just don’t want her to get mad at me if I get better,” Kas said. “But it really doesn’t matter. I don’t think there’s any competition between us.”
But both younger sisters want to someday be better than the trendsetting older sister.
“Yeah, that’s the goal,” Michelle said about someday being better than Stephanie. “My goal is to be as good as her. If I can be better, that’s great.”
Stephanie Rozalski, who has cleared 12-9 in recent open invitational meets, said that her sisters are a driving force for her.
“I really think they motivate me to be better,” Stephanie Rozalski said. “I don’t want them to pass me, but eventually, they will. It’s fun practicing and working with them. It gives us all something to do together.”
And it’s just the start. After all, outdoor season will begin shortly, soon after Michelle Rozalski competes in the Eastern States Invitational this week at the 168th Street Armory in New York.
“It should be good,” Michelle Rozalski said. “I see how hard Stephanie works and tries and it motivates me.”
As for the youngest?
“I just want to try to keep getting better,” Kas Rozalski said.
One sister raised the bar – literally – and it’s up to the other two to get over that bar.
Belleville High School senior Justin Colon knows full well that this wrestling season is his last opportunity to collect the state glory he has so desired for his entire career.
So when Colon won the Region 4 championship Saturday at West Orange, his third region crown in his four years with the Buccaneers’ program, Colon already had a higher goal in mind.
“It’s my last year and I’ve been training hard, lifting, drilling every day,” Colon said.
“I’ve fallen short my last three years of high school and this year, I don’t plan on falling short.”
For the last three years, Colon has just missed earning a medal at the NJSIAA state championships in Atlantic City.
“I lost always a round before the medal round,” Colon said.
But as Colon punched his ticket for this year’s state tourney by winning the Region 4 title at 126 pounds, he made no bones about his plans.
“It’s my last one, my last chance,” said Colon, who became Essex County’s all-time win leader last week at the District 14 tourney. “I feel more relaxed than I ever did. I know what the competition is going to be like. I’m mentally prepared. I’m not going to Atlantic City to be disappointed. I’m planning to still be wrestling Sunday and come home with a medal.”
In the past, Colon had to deal with weight and injuries heading into Atlantic City. It’s not the case this year.
“I feel a lot better and stronger,” said Colon, who improved to 40-1 this season with his region gold medal. “My weight is under control. I don’t have to worry about it. It’s much easier this year.”
Colon, whose older brother, Filiberto, was third in the state his senior year, said that he will use his two other trips to Atlantic City as fuel to his personal fire.
“I definitely think the other trips will help me,” Colon said. “I’m going to come out strong Friday and be ready.”
Colon won the Region 4 title via pin over Anthony DiPasque of Clifton in 3:43.
“Getting the pin in the finals will only boost my morale and my confidence,” Colon said. “I want to show everyone in Atlantic City that I belong on the podium.”
Colon is not the lone local wrestler headed to the state championships at Boardwalk Hall this weekend.
Nutley’s dream wrestling season will continue in Atlantic City, as head coach Frank DiPiano will bring his biggest contingency to the states. Five Maroon Raiders have advanced to the tourney.
While no Nutley wrestler earned Region 4 gold, four were runners-up, namely Bobby Trombetta (120 pounds), Brendan Keena (160), Nick Gaeta (195) and Andre Hamlin (heavyweight), while Vinnie Mainiero (170) was a third-place finisher.
The Maroon Raiders just missed sending a sixth wrestler to Atlantic City, but Carlos Rosa lost his consolation bout at 225 pounds by a single point in overtime.
“To bring five guys to Atlantic City is incredible,” DiPiano said. “We had 10 guys still wrestling on Saturday. It’s huge for the program. It’s the most we’ve ever advanced. If you would have told me before the season that I’d have five guys going, I would have said you were crazy. We were shooting for two, maybe. It’s pretty wild to have five.”
While Trombetta, Keena and Gaeta were expected to punch their tickets to Atlantic City, no one could have ever fathomed the idea that Mainiero and Hamlin would go.
Mainiero was unseeded in the Region 4 and had to face the top-seed, Tony Pafumi of St. Peter’s Prep, in the opening round. Once Mainiero lost to Pafumi, one would think of his chances to advance to the states would have been slim, but the freshman wrestled all the way back in the wrestleback consolations and earned third place with a pin over Steve Benitiz of West Orange in 5:28.
“It’s unbelievable,” DiPiano said. “After he lost in the first round, he just proceeded to win matches any way he could to get out of the region. It says a lot about his character and certainly already boosts his confidence for next season. He has a very bright future for us.”
Hamlin won all of one match two years ago as a sophomore and won 10 last year as a junior. But he continued his solid run that included a District 14 championship last week all the way to the Region 4 finals.
“It’s totally that is out of this world, an unbelievable story,” DiPiano said of Hamlin. “He’s a fantastic kid who just had to put his mind to it. He believed in himself. There was a time just recently where he was going to quit, but he decided to put in the time and now he’s going to Atlantic City. It’s really amazing.”
It marks another chapter in a dream season for the Maroon Raiders, who last week joined the state’s ranking among the top 25 in the state for the very first time. The Maroon Raiders have captured the Essex County, the Super Essex Conference and the District 14 team titles this year as well.
“People always told me that it was impossible to send this many kids to the states,” DiPiano said. “It’s just typical of our year. We keep doing things that were never done before.”
The Maroon Raiders completed their dual meet season with a stellar 19-4 mark and now will represent the area with pride, along with Colon.
The only downside to the Region 4 tourney was that Dave Bush, the Kearny senior who won the 160-pound championship at District 16 last week, was not able to compete due to the concussion he suffered in the District 16 finals, so Bush had to drop out of the Region 4 tourney, ending his quest to be a state tournament qualifier.
By Jim Hague
Scoring 1,000 points on the high school basketball level is a milestone that every player aspires to reach.
It means that you’ve been a consistent player and contributor. It’s a sign of success. Not everyone is fortunate enough to reach the plateau.
Take North Arlington boys’ basketball coach Dave Walsh as an example. Walsh was a fine player during his days at North Arlington, helping to lead the Vikings to a state championship. However Walsh – who went on to have a fine career at the now-defunct Upsala College – failed to reach the 1,000-point mark.
“I didn’t get it,” Walsh said. “I finished with 960. I know there are others who missed it by 10 or so. So in my eyes, it’s always important for a player to get it if he can.”
A few weeks ago, it appeared as if current senior Viking guard Tyler Krychkowski was going to fall short of the milestone, much like his coach. The season was running out of games and Krychkowski was running out of opportunities.
“I was very disappointed,” Krychkowski said. “I worked very hard the last two years. I knew this was my senior year and I wanted to have a shot.”
Walsh seems to think that the idea that Krychkowski was going to fall short actually helped him.
“He began to play free and easy, once he realized he wasn’t going to make it,” Walsh said. “I told him that he needed one really big game to have a chance. He needed to average like 25 per game over the last six games, so he needed to have that one big one.”
Last Tuesday night was Senior Night at the North Arlington gymnasium. The Vikings were set to face Harrison. There were balloons, posters, streamers, you name it, all present to honor the graduating seniors, Krychkowski being one of them.
“I said to myself that it was my last home game and I had to make the most of it,” Krychkowski said. “It was my chance.”
Krychkowski said that he felt he had a special night brewing.
“Everything was falling from the beginning of the game,” Krychkowski said. “It all came in the flow of the game.”
Krychkowski ended that game with a career-best 38 points, including seven 3-pointers. It put him in position to finally reach the milestone, as he needed 16 points in the Vikings’ NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state playoff game against Whippany Park that was slated to be played Monday.
For his efforts, Krychkowski has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. Krychkowski was also named during the fall season, when he was a standout goal scorer for the Vikings’ soccer team.
Krychkowski scored 26 goals during the soccer season. He believes that there is a positive carryover, being a scorer in both sports.
“I thought I had a good year in soccer and did the best I could,” Krychkowski said.
“Absolutely, I think there’s a carryover. It’s just going from grass to hardwood in the span of a week. It’s all just putting the ball in the net.”
Walsh believes that Krychkowski became a better all-around player this season and that may have cut down on his scoring just a bit.
“We do have more scoring options this year, so Tyler wasn’t going to get as many shots as he had last year. In the ebb and flow, I told him that he had to let the game come to him. He is definitely better at passing the ball, especially with the pick-and-roll stuff with A.J. (Nocciolo) or (Jose) Checo. We didn’t have that in the past. Tyler also has the ability to turn the corner and get to the rim. So we ran that more and more and we really relied on it.”
“It was awesome, especially with Checo,” Krychkowski said. “We’ve developed it for the past month or so. I think that’s how we were able to beat Lyndhurst. When you’re able to make plays like that, it boosts your confidence.”
Now, Krychkowski is within reach of the milestone. It’s tangible. It’s right there. Two weeks ago, it didn’t seem likely.
“I think about it a lot and will until I finally get it,” Krychkowski said. “Every day, every minute. When I first came to high school, I never thought I’d be the leading scorer for the last two years, like what’s happened. If it happens, it would be great to be on that list. Not a lot of people get that chance.”
“I just hope he gets it,” Walsh said. “It’s taken a lot for him to get to this point. Things were able to come his way. He has an idea of what he has to do, but he’s set himself to be in the position.”
Krychkowski knows that his basketball career is coming to an end. He will more than likely play soccer in college, but has not officially made a decision.
“I am pretty pleased with the way my senior year has turned out,” Krychkowski said. “I can say that I did something good.”
And it will be something even better if he can score 16 points in the state tournament.
Two residents in the 200 block of Davey St. reported that their garages had been broken into. One reported a 2003 motorcycle and assorted construction equipment missing from his garage; the other told police that electronic equipment that he used as a DJ was missing, as was his 2008 Kawasaki motorcycle. Police are investigating.
A 2001 Dodge from the 100 block of Morse Ave. was reported stolen.
Someone forced open an entry door at an office located in the 500 block of Bloomfield Ave. and ransacked the premises. Nothing was reported missing.
Two men told police they were approached by a duo with a handgun near the railroad tracks at Orchard St. One of the men told police that two black males approached him and his friend. As one pointed a handgun at him, the other proceeded to physically assault his buddy and took his sneakers, a Metro PCS phone and a gym bag with wrestling gear. Police are investigating.
A Grove St. resident reported that her storage locker was broken into and various items were missing from it. Gone were two 32- inch Toshiba televisions, a Kodak digital camera, and a pair of Timberland boots.
A resident told police that someone removed a black Columbia jacket from her dormitory room in the 400 block of Franklin St. Police said they found no sign of forced entry.
A 2003 Toyota was reported stolen from Clarendon Pl.
Two vehicles parked on Davey St. were vandalized. A 2004 Honda and a 1998 Honda each sustained damage to the roof and windshield.
A woman told police that a black male dressed in dark clothing snatched her pocketbook from her shoulder as she was walking near the 200 block of Glenwood Ave. The thief fled south on Glenwood Ave.
A Carteret St. storeowner told police that $25 worth of Star Ledger newspapers had been taken from the front of his shop.
A 2003 Volvo tractor and trailer was reported stolen from Franklin St.
A woman stated that she left her residence in the 100 block of Stone St. on Feb. 13 and when she returned on Feb. 16, she noticed that her side door had been forced open. Nothing appeared to be missing, she noted.
A resident reported the theft of a Nintendo DS game system, bath supplies and miscellaneous items from the 100 block of Thomas St. There was no sign of forced entry, police said.
A botched home invasion on the 100 block of Bolten Pl. and the subsequent arrest of two suspects. Two black males reportedly forced their way into the residence as one of the occupants was going way out, police said. After assaulting the resident, the intruders ran out the front door, then ran through the rear yard toward the adjacent power lines. Nothing was reported missing. At press time, the investigation had resulted in the arrest of Darren Lewis of Carteret on charges of robbery (home invasion), burglary, criminal restraint and conspiracy and the seizure of one vehicle, according to police spokesman Capt. Joseph Polido. The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are anticipated.
A rear window was broken and assorted tools were taken from a 2010 Chevrolet parked in the 100 block of Bloomfield Ave.
– Jeff Bahr