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KPD: The sweet smell of arrest

Kearny police were on radar detail on Rt. 7 in South Kearny last Wednesday when, at 4:14 p.m., Officer John Fabula clocked a westbound PT Cruiser doing 68 in a 45 mph zone. Officer Brian Wisely stopped the vehicle and, as he approached on foot, reportedly detected the odor of marijuana. Asked about the scent, police said the driver, Alexander Delgado, 44, of Lyndhurst, replied, “That’s my air freshener.”

After backup officer Sgt. Charles Smith noticed a handrolled cigarette in the center console, Delgado admitted to having two small bags of pot in his pocket, police said. He was arrested charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia and also received a summons for speeding.

• • •

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

Feb. 13 

Officer Luis Moran responded to Walmart at 7:59 p.m. to take into custody an alleged shoplifter who had been stopped by store security. Suspect Francisco Maldonado, 25, of Newark was found to have two warrants from that city and, unable to post bail, was taken to the Hudson County Jail.

Feb. 14 

Moran took into custody another shoplifting suspect, Jessica Rosado, 36, of Newark, at 2:37 p.m. at ShopRite, where store security was holding her. Police said Rosado had been seen on videotape stealing baby formula the previous afternoon and was nabbed by security when she returned to the store this day.

Feb. 15 

Officer Dean Gasser, responding to a 2:50 a.m. report of an accident on Harrison Ave., arrived to find that a 1999 Honda Accord had crashed into a concrete divider near the Turnpike entrance. Limping along the roadway was a man clad in a flourescent green jacket, who was identified as the driver, Derick Mejianovoa, 28, of Harrison. Police said he complained of leg pain, but after an ambulance was summoned, refused medical attention. He also allegedly refused to take an Alcotest. He was charged with that offense and with DWI.

• • •

At 6:29 p.m., Officer Wisely was on patrol on Passaic Ave. when he spotted a 1995 Honda parked near the loading dock at the vacant Pathmark building. Approaching the car, he reportedly detected the odor of pot and saw the passenger attempting to conceal something. Questioned, the passenger, Jaycee Louis, 23, of East Orange, turned over a handrolled lit cigar containing the drug, police said. As the driver, Norberto Lopez, 20, of Belleville, exited the vehicle, a container of pot-filled baggies, fell out, police said. Both men were charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia; the driver, was also charged with possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle.

Feb. 16

At 1:30 a.m., Wisely responded to a report of a homeless person in an empty building on the 500 block of Kearny Ave. Peering through a window, the officer saw, and recognized, 34-year-old Eric Tobin sleeping in the basement. Tobin, of no known address, was allegedly in possession of marijuana, and was charged with that, possession of drug paraphernalia, and trespassing. Police said he also had two outstanding Kearny warrants. He was taken to the Hudson County Jail, where, your correspondent notes, at least he had a warm place to snooze.

• • •

Officer Jordenson Jean, on patrol at Johnston and Kearny Aves. at 2:40 p.m. stopped a 2011 Infiniti for having illegally tinted windows. Police said the driver, Carnell Wright, 25, of Kearny, was found to have a suspended license. He was charged with the equipment violation, driving while suspended and being unlicensed. (To alert Observer readers who recognize the name: Yes, he was arrested in Kearny last week on a warrant from Newark and at that time was said to have a Newark address.)

– Karen Zautyk 

Bank’s accounts secure despite ATM skimmer: NPD

On Feb. 2, a local bank’s branch manager had alerted Nutley PD that it appeared that someone had placed a skimming device on the ATM just outside the bank near its drive-thru and cops noticed an adhesive residue left on the machine near the slot for inserting the ATM card.

Police now report some consolation in the fact that an investigation by the Centre St. bank “has revealed that no customer’s accounts were compromised.”

No further details were provided by police about the original incident reported by the bank.

• • •

In other developments, between Feb. 14 and 20, Nutley PD said they responded to 17 motor vehicle accidents, four suspicious incidents, 27 medical calls and these incidents:

Feb. 14 

After spotting a vehicle with its right rear brake light out on Bloomfield Ave., police pulled over the driver, Kellie Van Pelt, 22, of North Brunswick, who was found to have an active warrant from that municipality. She was arrested on the warrant and ticketed for maintenance of lamps, driving without a license and failure to possess insurance card. After posting bail, she was released pending court dates.

Feb. 15 

While patrolling on Kingsland St., police observed a vehicle eastbound with a non-functioning rear left taillight. The driver, Julius Sierra, 18, of Jersey City, was issued summonses for maintenance of lamps and driving while suspended. Police said Sierra also was wanted on warrants from North Bergen. He was turned over to North Bergen PD.

Feb. 16 

A fraud victim told police that someone had made four unauthorized charges totaling about $1,000 on their credit card, which, police said, the victim has now canceled.

Feb. 17 

A Coeyman Ave. resident reported getting a message on their voicemail from an unknown male saying their taxes were delinquent. Police tried to contact the caller but only got voicemail.

Feb. 18

A theft was reported at the PSE&G electrical yard on Cook Road. A worker told police that when they arrived that morning, they found the main gate locked but the gate to the yard open and a lock and extra chain missing. It was unclear whether anything was missing, police said.

• • •

A homeowner reported the theft of a four-month supply of seizure medication valued at more than $300.

• • •

Two packages were reported stolen from a Washington Ave. resident’s porch. The resident told police that they had made two online purchases but that neither package had been received although they had gotten emails from FedEx and USPS confirming both deliveries. The resident told police that prior packages had been stolen as well.

Feb. 19 

Police responded to a Franklin Ave. car wash on a report of damage to a vehicle. The vehicle’s owner told police that after the wash, they noticed their car antenna broken off. Police said the manager assured them that the car wash would pay for any damage to the vehicle.

Feb. 20

While on patrol on Franklin Ave., police said that they saw a black BMW X3 southbound with its passenger side headlamp out and that a computer check of the vehicle’s registration revealed that the owner had a suspended license and three warrants. Police stopped the vehicle at Chestnut and Prospect Sts. The driver, David Echavarria, 38, of Belleville, was arrested on the warrants from Rutherford, Roseland and Hoboken. He was also ticketed for operating while suspended, failure to produce a license and failure to produce a registration card. He was released pending court dates.

– Ron Leir 

Thoughts & Views: It happens every spring

2-25 Op_web

In case you hadn’t noticed, pitchers and catchers have reported for the annual ritual of spring training.

By April, the baseball season will have begun and every team can dream of winning the pennant and the World Series.

But, as T.S. Eliot liked to say, “April is the cruelest month,” because while it theoretically offers the possibility of rebirth and hope, by the time October rolls around, it means that all but two of the teams in the American and National Leagues will have to “wait ‘til next year” for their chance at all the marbles.

Still, now is the time of year when we can all dream big with our favorite team – yes, even the woeful Cubbies who haven’t won the Series since 1908 when they knocked off Detroit and Hall of Famer Ty Cobb.

That team featured pitching ace “Three Finger” Mordecai Brown who had six seasons with 20 or more wins plus a double play combination made famous by poet Franklin Pierce Adams: Tinker to Evers to Chance. Funny thing was Tinker and Evers didn’t talk to each other after, it is said, Evers grabbed a cab to the ballpark one day, stranding his teammate.

You can look it up, fans.

Baseball, which is still our national pastime, has survived despite all forms of cheating – even a World Series fix in 1919 by that other Chicago team, the White Sox – and the infamous “reserve clause” famously challenged by Curt Flood and racism, successfully smashed by Jackie Robinson. I grew up in Jersey City where Jackie played for the Dodgers’ Montreal Royals farm team against the Jersey City Giants at Roosevelt Stadium in April 1946, a year before moving up to the parent club in Brooklyn and broke the color line.

Don’t bother looking for the stadium; like the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field before it, that baseball relic was swept aside to make way for a residential development.

Luckily, the “Friendly Confines” of the Cubs’ home, Wrigley Field, still stands, as does the venerable Fenway Park in Boston (pictured above).

Remarkably, over more than a century of diamond history, there has been only one player fatality on the field. That happened in 1920, when Yankees submariner Carl Mays beaned the popular Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman and not long after that, the baseball establishment mandated the use of helmets and outlawed the spitball (although it grandfathered in veteran pitchers who had been using the pitch).

Aside from expansion and a few rule changes, the game – with a dubious myth about its origins – has pretty much stayed the same, with its central premise being that it is a contest played at its own pace – unlike other sports — without concern about the passage of time.

Until now, that is.

In an effort to speed up the game, the baseball commissioner has decreed that the major leagues will now be on the clock for pitching changes and inning breaks and batters won’t be permitted to step out of the box willy-nilly.

And, based on experimentation with the Arizona Fall League last year (as noted by The Star Ledger) there could be more rule changes coming, like restrictions on managers’/ catchers’ visits to the mound, no-pitch intentional walks and more.

Naturally, baseball purists will be upset but it doesn’t bother me and I’m a lifelong baseball addict who tried out (unsuccessfully) for my college team when it was coached by onetime Cub utility infielder Norm Gigon and, as consolation, I play Sunday softball doubleheaders in Central Park.

I’d prefer to see these changes:

• The American League should eliminate the designated hitter and let the pitcher bat.

• Let fans watch batting and fielding practice. It’s part of the game. Fans can come early, relax, catch part of the pregame ritual and bond with the players.

• Stadiums should stop blasting loud music at us every chance they get. It’s annoying, harmful to the ears and takes away from the pleasure of watching the game.

• Team owners really need to re-think how they design their ballparks. AT&T Park in San Francisco, with a seating capacity of 41,000, has great sightlines and feels just right. Camden Yards in Baltimore is another good example.

• Get the Yankees to have open tryouts for a backup third baseman behind Chase Headley just to shake up ARod. Play ball!

– Ron Leir 

Learning good habits for proper nutrition

ShopRite NAHS_web

As part of its community wellness efforts, ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, recently hosted two events for North Arlington High School students. During their first visit, in-store registered dietitian Julie Harrington took them on a guided tour of the supermarket and gave a presentation on nutrition. The second event featured a hands-on cooking class and further discussions on the importance of healthy eating.

ShopRite of Lyndhurst regularly hosts wellness events for local schools and organizations. Harrington leads each of the programs, offering easy-toimplement health and nutrition advice for individuals of all ages.

Prepping for Edinburgh this summer

Fringe_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

A Kearny bonnie lass is looking forward to a very special working vacation this summer in – you guessed it – Scotland.

Rachel Spillane, 16, is one of 23 students from Hudson County High Tech High School’s Musical Theatre program (and the lone West Hudson representative) who will be troupers in this year’s marathon Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Last year, during a 3-week period in August, the festival held 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues, “making it the largest ever arts festival in the world,” its website proclaims.

The High Tech contingent’s entry to the annual event is being made possible through the American High School Theatre Festival which showcases the top talent in U.S. secondary schools, allowing them to struff their stuff in Edinburgh.

Alex Perez, the group’s director and one of two adult chaperones accompanying the students, (the other is English teacher Kerri Ann Murphy), said that the North Bergenbased high school was one of 20 schools chosen by the AHSTF from among 1,000 or so applicants to go to Scotland.

For Rachel, a 16-year-old High Tech 10th-grader, the trip will mark her first journey outside the U.S., as it will for about a quarter of the group. “I’m super excited,” she said. “It’s such a great opportunity.” She’ll be one of five sophomores from the musical theater program going abroad.

At the festival, which runs Aug. 7 to 31, the High Tech ensemble will be doing a production of the Broadway musical, “A Chorus Line,” which the students may preview for the school in May, Perez said.

But the trip won’t be just about performing, Perez explained.

After an anticipated arrival in the U.K. July 30, “we’ll spend a couple of days in London studying with a master class on Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre, see a couple of West End shows, then head over to Scotland,” he said.

Another plus is that the seniors in the group can apply for college-level academic credit for participating in the enterprise, Perez said.

At the festival, itself, when the teens aren’t on stage, there will be plenty of cultural and fun events to explore. “There are over 3,000 things to see,” Perez noted, ranging from all types of plays to comedy, dance, cabaret, children’s shows, opera and exhibitions.

For Perez, the festival is familiar ground: He accompanied another High Tech student group to Edinburgh in 2006 for a production of the modern version of “Oz.” He took another group to an arts festival in Germany in 2001.

This trip won’t come cheap. “The total bill, including air fare, rooms, meals and everything, will come to $150,000,” Perez said, “or about $6,000 per student. We started fundraising in the summer and we’ve got about 25% raised so far.”

Earlier this month, Broadway performers Kerry Butler, Christine Pedi, James Carpinello, Telly Leung, Anastacia McCleskey, Kate Loprest and Clarke Thorell donated their services, participating in a concert at High Tech’s black box theater, with the proceeds going to the fundraising effort. That event added $5,000 to the pot, Perez said.

Donations to the fund can be made to the school or by visiting www.GoFundMe.com/ elcave.

Meanwhile, preparatory work continues apace for “A Chorus Line.”

 

 

Photos courtesy Alex Perez Rachel Spillane and Perez.

Photos courtesy Alex Perez
Rachel Spillane and Perez.

Juniors and seniors fill out the cast and sophomores are handling crew and production work, but, as this show was designed, Rachel and her fellow sophomores will get a shot at some on-stage exposure, by acting as some of the auditioners in the musical, Perez said.

Even from her usual perspective from behind the scenes, musical theater for Rachel “is like a magical experience.”

The Franklin School graduate said that as a youngster, she “always loved to sing” and sang in some of the grammar school’s talent shows but never thought of making anything more of it until a friend who happened to be a High Tech alum suggested that she try out for the school’s musical theater program.

So she did and was accepted to the program.

During her freshman year, Rachel was a crew member for the spring show, doing “a lot of microphone work, making sure [sound] levels were even.” She’s learned how to set and operate “lekos” – (that’s ellipsoid reflector spotlights, in case you wondered) – and lighting boards, costumes, props, giving actors “call” times. In other words, the works. She was also part of the ensemble in a one-act excerpt from a school production of “Guys and Dolls.”

In class, she’s also mastering the acting side of theater: “song and monologue development, improvisation, dancing and acting technique and we also learn how to assemble ‘audition books’ to help market ourselves.”

Outside the confines of High Tech, Rachel is building her acting resume, having ventured on stage with the local theater company, W.H.A.T., in “Our Broadway” in winter 2012, a cabaret show and “Young Frankenstein” in summer 2013 and “The Addams Family” in summer 2014.

And in January 2015, she was an ensemble member in a N.J. School of Dramatic Arts production of “Rent,” directed by Perez, which had a sold-out run at the Westminster Arts Center theater in Bloomfield.

Rachel’s role model is Megan Hilty, who starred as Glinda in the Broadway show “Wicked the Musical,” because “I like how she’s a super powerful (soprano) singer.”

She also appreciates how her parents, Dara and Joseph Spillane, “are supportive in whatever I want to pursue. They come to all my shows. It’s awesome to have that support.” Her dad is a mail carrier in Harrison and her mom is a programs revision manager for a Teterboro company.

around town

Bloomfield 

Bloomfield Public Library’s Book Club, 90 Broad St., has released its program schedule for March:

  • Book Club meets March 2, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., in the library’s study room to discuss “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. For more information or for help in locating a copy of the book, call the reference desk at 973-566- 6200, ext. 219 or 220. Admission is free and all are welcome.
  • Mid-day Movies presents: “Broadcast News” on March 2; “Boyhood” on March 5; “The Story of GI Joe” on March 9; “Maleficent” on March 12; “Network” on March 16; “Snowpiercer” on March 19; “Good Night and Good Luck” on March 23; “Begin Again” on March 26; and “The Insider” on March 30. All films begin at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free.
  • An adult craft program is set for the second Wednesday of each month beginning March 11 at 6 p.m. Materials needed: discarded books, magazines, newspapers, paper, scissors, various scissors, various beads, decoupage glue. If you have extra supplies, feel free to bring them for the other crafters.

Through March 14, the library is accepting donations of new or lightly used prom dresses which will be distributed to young women who might otherwise not be able to afford a prom gown. Dresses can be dropped off in the main library. All sizes and styles are welcome.

Belleville 

Belleville Public Library, 221 Washington Ave., holds Storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers every Wednesday at 11 a.m., beginning March 11. For more information, call the library at 973-450-3434.

East Newark 

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets the last Friday of every month, 7 to 9 p.m., at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246-7750, Fatima at 973-485- 4236 or email emidura2@yahoo. com.

Harrison 

Holy Cross Church sponsors a trip to Las Vegas, April 29 to May 5. The group departs Newark Airport Wednesday, April 29, at 7:15 a.m., for a nonstop flight via United Airlines and returns Thursday, May 5, at 6:15 a.m. The group will be staying at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino. The $771 per-person cost covers air, hotel and taxes. A $250 per-person deposit is required to guarantee reservations. Call Gina at European Travel, 973-484-4023, or Joan at 973-481-2434.

Kearny 

The Kearny High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee is seeking candidates for induction at a dinner to be held in November. Nominees must have graduated at least five years ago.

Teams to be inducted at a dinner to be held at the Lithuanian Catholic Community Center April 17 will include the 1977 boys soccer team, 1985 boys baseball team, 1980 girls relay team, 1986 boys lightweight crew team, 1980 girls basketball team and the 1968 football team.

For information on the team dinner or on nominating individuals, contact John Millar at 201-955-5051 or Zibbie Viscuso at 201-998-5961.

Lyndhurst 

A benefit dinner for Jennie Gossweiler-Renna, now in her fifth year with ovarian cancer, will be held March 28, 5 to 9 p.m., at the Amvets post hall, 323 New York Ave. The $45 admission includes dinner, dancing and support for a wonderful person. For tickets, more information, or to make a donation, call Melissa Alfano at 201-736-1584 or visit www.jenniebenefit.myevent.com.

Dress in the style of your favorite decade for “Dancing through the Decades” March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyndhurst firehouse, 299 Delafield Ave. Admission is $35. All proceeds go to the Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. For tickets, call Cristy at 201-742-2411.

Adoniram Court No. 22, Order of the Amaranth, sponsors a winter auction Sunday, March 1, at the Masonic Temple, 321 Second Ave. Doors open at noon. A $5 donation is requested. For more information, call 201-955- 1555.

Lyndhurst Girls’ Association hosts a pancake breakfast on Sunday, March 22, 8 a.m. to noon, at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. Proceeds go towards maintaining and operating Libbie Lindsay House, a meeting place for Girl Scouts and leaders in Lyndhurst. Admission is $5 and tickets may be purchased at the door.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following children’s events this month:

  • Walk in Story Times, open to grades pre-k to 2, take place every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6:40 p.m. No registration is required.
  • In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday week, children in grades pre-k to 4, are invited to create their own Lorax Wednesday, March 4, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration is required. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces the following programs:

  • The Free First-Sunday-of-the- Month Nature Walk, held in conjunction with the Bergen County Audubon Society, is set for Sunday, March 1, 10 a.m. to noon. The location of this walk has been moved from Mill Creek Marsh, Secaucus to DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst. (directions are on meadowblog.net in the left-hand column). Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release good for NJMC/ BCAS events year round. To register, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@gmail. com or call 201-230-4983.
  • Owls Alive, presented by Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, is set for Sunday, March 8, 2 to 3 p.m. See some of these amazing nocturnal raptors and learn about these feathered ambassadors’ behavior, physiology, adaptations and natural history.

Admission is $8; $6 for Meadowlands Environment Committee members.

Pre-registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to www.njmeadowlands.gov and click on “Events.”

Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst sponsors a children’s Tricky Tray for grades pre-k to 5 Saturday, March 28, at the Senior Citizen’s building on Cleveland Ave. Admission is $5. Doors open at noon and the raffle begins at 1 p.m. Lunch items will be sold. No outside food is permitted. For tickets or more information, call Janet at 201- 935-1208.

North Arlington 

American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37, 222 River Road, meets Monday, March 2, at 8 p.m. All veterans are invited. The post is accepting transfers of members of the American Legion Post 1000 who are residents of North Arlington. For more information, call 201-214- 8253.

North Arlington Seniors Inc. (Tuesday Club) sponsors a trip to Sands Casino in Pennsylvania on March 5. The group leaves at 9 a.m. from Borough Hall. Non-members are welcome. For more information, call Rose Florio at 201-991-2423. Payment is appreciated before the trip. Speak slowly and clearly when leaving your telephone number.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, announces the following:

  • Sit and Stitch Knitting and Crochet Group meets Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.
  • Irish music performance with Clarence Ferrari begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 7.
  • A screening of the film “From Here to Eternity” is set for Monday, March 9, at 6 p.m.
  • A motorcycle jacket themed photography exhibit by Bobby Travieso is on display at the library until March 7. The exhibit includes photos of people of all walks of life wearing the photographer’s old leather jacket along with a brief statement about who the person is and how they came to put on the jacket. For more information, visit Travieso’s website www.hairyhand.net.

For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640.

North Arlington High School Crew announces its 2015 season kick-off party fundraiser on Saturday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m., at the Pourhouse, 584 Ridge Road. Cost is $40 per person and includes three hours of open bar, light food and music. Bring your family and friends (age 21 and over).

Nutley 

Shelter Love Events hosts a comedy night fundraiser March 14 at The Old Canal Inn, 2 E. Passaic Ave., with proceeds going to help purchase items needed by Happily Efur After, a not-for-profit, no-kill, all-volunteer cat rescue and adoption group. The event features a prize raffle, 50/50 raffle, and the comedic stylings of emcee Jeff Howard, Ken Perlstein, Joe Messina, Paul Goldenberg, Mike Celona and Steve Schwarz. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Food orders and raffle ticket purchases will not be available once the show starts. Tickets are $25, which includes a $5 food voucher. Tickets purchased through Feb. 28 are discounted by $5. Tickets can be purchased at http://slecomedynight.brownpapertickets.com/.

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, announces the following programs:

  • Monday Night Book Club meets to discuss “Men We Reaped,” a memoir by Jesmyn Ward, March 2, at 7 p.m. Copies of the book and its discussion guide are available at the library. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Minecraft Club, open to ages 7 and up, meets Monday, March 2, at 3:30 p.m. Bring your own device.
  • P.J. Storytime, open to all ages, meets every Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Babygarten, open to ages 23 months and under, takes place Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Registration is required. This is open only to Nutley residents.
  • Patrons are invited to play bridge every Tuesday at 1 p.m.
  • Video Game Club for teens meets Tuesdays, March 3, 24 and 31, at 3:15 p.m.
  • Preschool Story Time, open to ages 3 to 5, takes place Wednesdays, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Only Nutley residents may attend. Registration is required.
  • Wednesday Afternoon Knitters meets weekly at 1 p.m. Both beginning and experienced knitters are welcome. Bring your own supplies.

Registration for these programs is not required unless otherwise noted. To register for programs or for more information, call the library at 973-667-0405.

Lyndhurst captures overall T of C bowling title

2-25 Bowl_web

First time ever for a North Jersey school

 

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

The Lyndhurst High School bowling team loaded up the team bus and headed south to Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick last Friday with modest expectations.

“Honestly, I was just hoping to see if we could get Group I,” said Lyndhurst second-year head bowling coach Brianna Balkin. “Last year, we finished second in Group I, so I wanted to win that. Last year, we broke all the records, had all the high scores, had the state sectional title and went down there and couldn’t get it together.”

So as the Golden Bears made another sojourn south on the New Jersey Turnpike, Balkin had one thing in mind.

“In my mind, the goal was to win Group I,” Balkin said. “Anything else that happened would be a bonus.”

But as the bus got closer to Carolier Lanes, the aspirations of the bowlers started to rise.

“The kids all wanted to win the whole thing,” Balkin said. “So I said that if we bowled (a combined score of) 3,100, we could win it.”

However, the prospects didn’t look good early on.

“We fell behind by 20 pins after the first game,” Balkin said. “I was thinking, ‘Here we go again.’”

But the Golden Bears seemed to catch lightning in a bottle. Senior Michael Hayes was inserted into the lineup to go along with the Bears’ usual stalwarts Jordan Lopez, Daijon Smith, Ryan Donohue and Emily Young.

“He was huge for us,” Balkin said. “He kept making spares. He said he was nervous and I told him that I needed him to keep making spares.”

That’s what Hayes did, rolling his best score of 190 to go along with the others. The Golden Bears got to 3,202 to win the Group I title over Pompton Lakes. North Arlington, led by standout Tyler Keefe (269 high game) finished sixth.

From there, the Golden Bears moved on to the Tournament of Champions to lock horns with Group IV champion Freehold Township, Group III champ Sayreville and Group II champ Rahway.

 

Photo courtesy Brianna Balkin The Lyndhurst bowling team gets together for one last group hug after clinching the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title last week.

Photo courtesy Brianna Balkin
The Lyndhurst bowling team gets together for one last group hug after clinching
the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title last week.

Incredibly, the Golden Bears drew the top seed for finishing first in the Group championships and faced Rahway in the semifinals, winning the Baker Series (alternate best ball) bestof- five by a three games to two margin.

From there, it was on to the overall T of C title match against Freehold Township, which defeated Sayreville. Again, there was more drama, right down to the final frames.

“They made things interesting and gave me a heart attack,” Balkin said.

But the Golden Bears prevailed, winning the title series by a similar three games to two margin.

And just like that, Lyndhurst became the first team from northern New Jersey to ever capture the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title.

“It’s been one amazing ride,” Balkin said. “I credit the kids. My seniors, who I call ‘The Fab Five,’ have been tremendous. It’s not just bowling. It’s outside of the lanes. They’ve done so much for this program.”

The seniors are Lopez, Smith, Young, Hayes and Richard Sawires.

“It’s really amazing,” Balkin said. “They put in the work. They practice a lot on their own.”

Balkin said that another key was practicing the Baker system of bowling.

“We did a lot of Baker in college, so I knew that’s what was going to happen if we got to the state level,” Balkin said. “The kids all love Baker. Once they got there (to the T of C semifinals), they knew how to do it and were used to it.”

That experience obviously paid off.

What also helped was the competitiveness of the team, yet the camaraderie. For example, Lopez and Smith are so close as bowlers, with just a few pins separating the two each time they hit the lanes. They also use the same unique style, bowling with two hands instead of the conventional one-handed approach.

But they are also the best of friends, almost inseparable.

“They’re actually like brothers,” Balkin said. “They have a good healthy rivalry. Each wants to beat the other, but after they’re done, they’re always together. It makes a huge difference. They knew if they were going to do this, they needed to do it together. They all want each other to do well. They are so supportive of each other and comfortable with each other.”

The team also had a girl among the top bowlers in Young, who earned the top score overall last week at the NJSIAA North 1A sectionals. Lopez, Smith and Donohue have all bowled perfect games in their lives, so that is also a huge help.

Balkin said that the victory Friday takes away any of the bitterness the team experienced after losing the Bergen County tournament three weeks ago.

“I think that was the turning point of the season,” Balkin said. “We didn’t want to lose then, so that became motivation. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because ever since then, they were in the bowling alley every single day, practicing and working.”

Balkin said that there was a huge sense of pride becoming the first northern New Jersey team to ever secure the NJSIAA T of C title.

“It’s big for North Jersey,” Balkin said. “A lot of people think that we’re at a disadvantage, being from North Jersey. But we proved we can be just as good as the rest of the state.”

No, better yet, the Golden Bears proved that they can be better than any other team in the rest of New Jersey, winning the overall state title, one for the ages.

“It really is amazing,” Balkin said. “I think it’s something they’ll all remember for the rest of their lives.”

Nutley captures its 4th straight District 14 crown

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By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When Frank DiPiano took over the Nutley High School wrestling program five years ago, he had no idea how long it would take for the Maroon Raiders to become relevant once again.

Little did DiPiano know that he would develop the Maroon Raiders into a dominant force.

That domination continued over the weekend, when DiPiano’s Maroon Raiders, just a few days removed from suffering an emotional setback in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III sectional title match against Voorhees, steamrolled the opposition once again at the NJSIAA District 14 championships, winning for the fourth straight year.

“It’s always the goal to win the league, the county, the state and the district titles,” DiPiano said. “To win our fourth District 14 title in a row, we take a lot of pride in that. We came back from the sectional final and rebounded well.”

The Maroon Raiders crowned three champions in 126-pound champion Joe Ferinde, 132-pound champ Robert Duxbury and 145-pounder Darwin Pena.

Ferinde improved to 33-2 overall with a resounding 16-3 win over Roland Smith of Belleville in the finals.

“He just keeps going,” DiPiano said. “It’s his second district title. It’s impressive at this time of year to have the record he has. He wants to win and advance to get back on the podium in Atlantic City.”

Ferinde finished eighth in the state last year.

Duxbury (33-2) won the District 14 gold last year at 106 pounds, so for him to make such a huge step up in weight and still remain at the top of his game is impressive.

“He has real good technique and he’s a real strong kid for his size,” DiPiano said.

Pena has shown the biggest improvement of any Nutley wrestler in recent memory, going from sub-.500 last year (11-13) to where he’s dominant (33-3) this year.

“He’s on everyone’s radar now,” DiPiano said.

The Maroon Raiders will send 12 wrestlers to the Region 4 tournament this weekend, including five that finished as runners-up in their respective weight classes, namely 120-pounder Kenny Pena, 152-pounder Joseph DiPasquale, 160-pounder Andrew Aiello, 170-pounder Jason Castellanos and 195-pounder Justin Bivona.

Of the five Maroon Raiders to place second, DiPiano was most pleased with Bivona.

“He upset the No. 3 seed, then upset the No. 2 seed to get to the finals,” DiPiano said of Bivona, who now has a 14-13 record this season. “It’s a big turnaround for him. He wrestled complete and smart over the last couple of weeks.”

Belleville crowed two champions in District 14 in 160-pounder Jordan Greene and 220-pounder Edwin Gaines. Both Buccaneer wrestlers earned District 14 gold for a second time.

At District 15, Queen of Peace crowned three champions in 120-pounder Ray Wetzel, 195-pounder Jeff Velez and heavyweight Chima Dunga.

Velez was a district champ for the fourth straight year, having won the prior three in District 11 while competing for Brearley Regional.

Enrique Sanchez (106), Mike Scaravelli (132), Garrett Beam (138), Shaquan Chavis (145) and Joe Rocca (152) all punched their tickets to the region tourney with solid efforts over the weekend.

Lyndhurst/North Arlington had three wrestlers advance to Region 2 in 160-pounder Rocco Russomano, 120-pounder Devin Yunis and 170-pounder Matthew DeMarco.

Kearny saw 170-pounder Lukasz Glazewski advance after losing in the finals of District 16 to Leo Subiza of North Bergen.

Once again, it’s a solid array of wrestling talent that is moving on to either Region 2 or Region 4 this weekend.

Lyndhurst’s Young proves to be more than one of the boys

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

Emily Young doesn’t mind being the lone girl competing on the Lyndhurst High School bowling team.

In fact, Young embraces the idea.

“I love bowling with the boys,” Young said. “I love being on the team with so many good bowlers. I actually look up to them. I never have any pressure on me when I’m with them, because I’m never expected to do anything. There’s never the pressure to be the best.”

After all, Young is a member of the state’s premier bowling team that features three members, namely Jordan Lopez, Daijon Smith and Ryan Donohue, who have all bowled perfect 300 games in their lifetimes.

“Basically, I want to do my best for them,” Young said. “I always know that my fiercest competition is the boys on the bus. I always say that to Ryan. I always say that I just want to stay close with the boys on the team.”

Young began bowling at the age of eight.

“I wouldn’t say that I was great right away, but I never bowled with the bumpers,” Young said of the training tools seen at most lanes for beginners. “I joined a recreation league with one of my friends because it seemed like fun.”

However, it didn’t take long for Young to get hooked.

“I wanted to bowl all the time,” said Young, who also plays volleyball at Lyndhurst. “It didn’t take me that long to get pretty good at it.”

Young’s uncle, Michael Gingerelli, was a standout bowler in his own right, winning the Bergen County title at Lyndhurst in 1978. Gingerelli gave Young her first ball.

“He was a big help,” Young said. “So was Ryan’s (Donohue) dad. He’s great. He helped me a lot as well.”

When Young began bowling at Lyndhurst High, she owned a respectable average of 133. But she wasn’t exactly a world beater.

“I just kept working on trying to get better,” Young said. “I had a lot of encouragement from my friends and teammates. Coach (Brianna) Balkin teaches us to never give up.”

“She’s just a great kid who works hard,” Balkin said. “She just loves to be out there and competing.”

Young has gradually improved over the years, rolling to a 179 average last year and 184 this season.

“I got thrown into the varsity lineup, sink or swim,” Young said. “I’m just lucky to be sharing lanes with Jordan, Daijon and Ryan. They’re their own animal.”

Young said that she did get a new ball this season, a 15-pounder that was just a little heavier than the one she had been using.

“I think the weight gives me more action and I’m able to throw a more aggressive ball,” Young said. “There’s definitely a difference.”

Earlier this season, Young won the Bergen County girls’ bowling title, but two weeks ago, she was bowling with and against the boys at the NJSIAA North 1A Sectional at Bowler City in Hackensack.

And Young was beyond sensational, rolling a 759 series, which was the highest score of any bowler present _ male or female.

“For me to beat my teammates is a miracle,” Young said. “I never thought I could beat them, never mind come even close.”

“She was almost unconscious,” Balkin said. “She just went up there, threw the ball and smiled. She was just happy to be there for the team. I never expected her to be the best, to beat her teammates. I thought she might place high, but never above all the rest.”

Young had 269, which was the second highest single game, and the combined-score of 759, which was high series, helping the Golden Bears set a new record for the state sectional and move on to the state Tournament of Champions, which they eventually won.

For her efforts, Young has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

“It’s an amazing achievement,” Balkin said of Young winning the overall state sectional singles title. “It’s never happened before.”

In fact, state officials were so unprepared for a girl to win the boys’ state sectional title that they didn’t present Young with the trophy for winning the sectional. The award went to James Kane of Paramus Catholic, who finished second with a 748 series.

How ridiculous was that?

“The rule said that a girl can’t win the boys’ sectional,” Young said. “He (Kane) got a trophy. I got a shout out. When I found out, I was pretty upset. It was terrible. It really was. I guess no one ever thought that a girl could win the boys’ tournament. I was just glad I could compete.”

Balkin said that the boys on her team offer encouragement to Young all the time.

“They all want her to do well,” Balkin said. “They are all so much behind her that I think it eases things up for her. They pick her up. She doesn’t have to worry about being good or being bad. She just has to bowl.”

Young has also been an inspiration to her teammates.

“The boys on the team are all still talking about it,” Balkin said. “We have four other girls on the team who all want to get better. They see what Emily has done, that she’s not just competing as a girl, but with the boys. She’s keeping up with the rest.”

Or in some cases, beating them.

Young competed alone in the NJSIAA girls’ state tournament on Wednesday and finished 25th overall. She then bowled Friday with her teammates and helped the Golden Bears bring home the golden prize.

Young hopes to attend either Sacred Heart University or the University of Delaware in the fall. On target to be the salutatorian for the Lyndhurst Class of 2015, Young hopes to major in social work at whatever school she chooses.

“I definitely want to work with kids,” Young said. “I love children and if I can help them, then that’s my next step.”

Needless to say, Young never imagined she would become a state sectional champion _ make that a boys’ state sectional champ.

“This has been my best year for bowling,” Young said. “I’ve achieved my goals. The team has done tremendously.”

It’s been a dream season for Emily Young and the Golden Bears, truly a golden season.

Local hoop teams head to NJSIAA playoffs

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

For the first time ever, the Kearny boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will be playing NJSIAA state playoff games at the same location against the same school. Both the Kardinal boys and girls qualified for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV playoffs and the Kardinals will be part of a special doubleheader Monday night (March 2) at Paterson Kennedy.

First, the Kearny girls, the No. 13 seed in the North 1, Group IV bracket, will take on No. 4 seed Paterson Kennedy, with tipoff slated for 4:30 p.m.

Immediately following, it will be the Kearny boys making their first NJSIAA state playoff appearance in six years, taking on Paterson Kennedy at 7 p.m. The Kardinals, who improved to 12-12 overall with a win over Ferris last weekend, earned the No. 14 seed in the bracket.

Qualifying for the state playoffs is a major achievement for second-year head coach Bob McDonnell and the Kardinals.

“Without a doubt, it was one of our main goals coming into the season,” McDonnell said. “So it’s definitely an achievement. It’s been a little frustrating at times, but it’s all been amazing, since all five guys haven’t put it together at once all season. But it’s still a great feeling to see the development of the kids.They want to play. They come in for shootaround practices early and put in the extra effort to get ready for games. Making the state playoffs is a good reward for the kids.”

Gus Chemin had 17 points in the Kardinals’ 62-46 win over Ferris. The Kardinals also enjoyed a win over Memorial in the opening round of the Hudson County Tournament, before falling to Bayonne, 89- 84, in overtime.

Joseph Baez had 19 points, Chemin added 16, Georgie Smyth and Gralen Vereen each had 14 points and Zach Latka added 13 points and eight rebounds in the loss to Bayonne. Latka had 25 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Memorial.

Two other local schools saw both their boys’ and girls’ basketball teams secure state playoff berths.

North Arlington’s boys grabbed the No. 7 seed in North Jersey Section 2, Group I. The Vikings will face American History on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in North Arlington. The NA girls are on the road at New Providence Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Vikings received the No. 13 seed in that bracket.

And the Bloomfield boys and girls are both headed to the postseason.

The Bloomfield boys took the No. 4 seed in North Jersey Section 1, Group IV. The Bengals will play host to Passaic County Tech Monday at 7 p.m. The Bloomfield girls are on the road facing Livingston Monday at 5 p.m. The Bengals are the No. 9 seed in the girls’ bracket.

The only other local team to get a home game is the Harrison girls. The Blue Tide drew the No. 8 seed in North Jersey Section 2, Group I and will face Caldwell Monday night at 7 p.m.

The Nutley girls will travel all the way to West Morris for a first round game in North Jersey Section 2, Group III Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Maroon Raiders are the No. 13 seed in that bracket.

The Lyndhurst girls are also the No. 13 seed in the North Jersey Section 2, Group I bracket. The Golden Bears travel to Morris County to take on Hanover Park Monday at 7 p.m.