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 […]
Last week’s issue of The Observer contained a photo display of the new Portuguese monument slated for dedication in Riverbank Park, Kearny, on June 1. The text accompanying the photos should have mentioned that Thomas Meloro & Son Monuments of North Arlington was the designer of the structure.
‘A MAYOR’S SON REMEMBERS’
To the Editor:
Several friends e-mailed, called and sent the link to a story (“Searing Memories of a Long-Ago Fire,” May 21) containing a photo of my father, the late Kearny Mayor Joseph M. Healey, taken in 1963 at the Thompson Fish and Chip fire at 5 Kearny Ave.
Fittingly enough, the story appeared just as I’m about to mark my 25th year as a firefighter in Plainsboro Township, N.J., and I have been reflecting on the important role my father and then-Chief John Sherlock played in creating a strong interest in firefighting and the fire service.
It was a different time in government and politics and, after leaving office, my brother and I spent the better part of a day engaging my father in a dialogue about his career. Police dispatchers were instructed to notify him about any working fire or significant police incident on a 24/7 basis. I asked him why he responded, even though I had loved going with him, and he said that he felt responsible as mayor for the firefighters and police officers and he wanted to make sure anyone burned out of their home would be taken care of. In this age, that’s a refreshing approach.
The picture and the story also give me the opportunity to express my thanks to the members of the Kearny Fire Department, then and now. It has always been a great fire department and, in a younger day, I envisioned myself as a member. That didn’t happen, but I took what I learned from you and put it into work down here in Central Jersey.
Thomas C. Healey
Plainsboro Fire Company
A simple matter of a double-parked car led to the arrest last week of a 23-yearold Perth Amboy man who had not only an outstanding warrant, but also a double identity, Kearny police reported.
The story began unfolding at 7:30 p.m., May 29, when Officer Daniel Esteves spotted an illegally parked Mitsubishi in the area of Windsor and Afton Sts., checked his mobile computer and found that the registered owner was wanted by Sayreville authorities, Chief John Dowie said. The man thought to be the owner/operator returned to the car with two other individuals but this time got into the passenger seat, and the vehicle drove away.
Esteves stopped it on Wilson Ave., asked the man for I.D. and was handed a New Jersey driver’s license in the name of Rafael Rodriguez — the same person with the Sayreville warrant, Dowie noted. The suspect was arrested and taken to headquarters, where he was found to be in possession of “conflicting documentation” regarding his identity, the chief said.
In addition to the Rodriguez license, he reportedly had: a N.J. identity card in the name Eduard Contreras; a District of Columbia I.D. card for Rodriguez; a U.S. Immigration green card for Contreras; a Visa debt card for Rodriguez; two Social Security cards, one in each name, and a Dominican Republic passport issued to Contreras. Dowie said it was determined that Eduard Contreras was his real name.
He was charged with four offenses involving false government documents and one count of impersonation relative to identity theft. Plus, he got a summons for being an unlicensed driver. And for double-parking.
Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:
Officer Angelo Palagano and Sgt. Michael O’Neill, responding to a 3:45 a.m. report of a man and woman arguing in a car on the 200 block of Hickory St., found that the male party had three outstanding warrants — two from Newark and one from Passaic, police said. Juan Quinones, 22, of Belleville was arrested and, at 5:30 a.m., was turned over to Passaic authorities.
At 7:30 a.m., Officer Peter Jahera responded to a burglary report at a business on the 500 block of Schuyler Ave. where an employee had found that, sometime overnight, the front door had been kicked in and three boxes containing computer equipment were missing. The case is being investigated by the Detective Bureau.
Officer Esteves, patrolling on the 300 block of Kearny Ave. at 2:40 p.m., saw an occupied car in a prohibited area and asked the driver for credentials.
William Vlado, 62, of North Arlington was found to have a suspended license, police said. He was summonsed for that offense, for failure to surrender a suspended license and for improper parking.
At 8 p.m., Sgt. Peter Gleason and Officers Esteves, Jay Ward, Sean Kelly and Jose Resua were called to a Linden Ave. address on a report of a fight.
Reportedly battling in the backyard were two brothers, Michael Nee, 20, and Sean Nee, 22, both of Kearny. The cops separated the bloodied combatants and “attempted futilely” to determine what happened, Chief Dowie noted.
Ward was allegedly shoved by Michael and then by Sean, and when Kelly went to Ward’s aid, a struggle ensued involving all four, police said. The brothers were wrestled to the ground and taken into custody.
Meanwhile, in front of the residence, Esteves and Resua encountered William Nash, 23, of Kearny, who reportedly became hostile and combative when they tried to interview him and had to be tackled.
When all the dust settled, Michael Nee was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one of resisting arrest; Sean Nee, with one count each of aggravated assault, simple assault and resisting arrest; and Nash with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Officer Chris Levchak was monitoring traffic on the 800 block of Passaic Ave. at 4:30 p.m. when he observed a woman driving while talking on a cell phone. Stopping the car to issue a summons, Levchak found that driver Victoria Martinez, 46, of Harrison, had a suspended license, police said. She was charged with the cell phone violation, driving while suspended and failure to surrender a suspended license.
At 10:15 p.m., Officer Derek Hemphill responded to a complaint by a 22-year-old Kearny woman, who said she had been walking on Schuyler Ave., just north of Bergen Ave., when a Hispanic man in his 20s, sitting in a parked car — a dark, four-door vehicle — asked her for directions to Jersey City. As she approached the car, she saw that he was not wearing pants and was fondling himself, and she quickly left the area. Police said they have been checking with surrounding jurisdictions to see if they have had similar reports, but as of last Friday, it appears to have been an isolated incident.
At 8:30 p.m., vice detectives in the area of Elm St. and Seeley Ave. observed Daniel Ortiz, 37, of Kearny, who they had reason to believe might be in possession of cocaine, police said. While stopping his car, they reportedly saw him attempting to conceal something in his pockets. He was allegedly found to be in possession of two plastic bags of suspected coke and was charged with possession of the drug, of drug paraphernalia and of driving while in possession of a controlled substance.
– Karen Zautyk
A modest Monsignor John J. Gilchrist, of Kearny, a priest for more than half a century, was honored for “outstanding achievements and contributions to his community” as the Hudson County Senior of the Year at a luncheon held May 28 at Casino-in-the-Park, Jersey City.
Other West Hudson seniors recognized for dedication to their communities were Harrison Councilman Victor B. Villalta and James Lynch of East Newark.
Villalta, a decorated Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War, is active with the Marine Corps League and chairs the council’s senior citizens committee. Lynch has served as a youth soccer coach and is active with the local seniors.
“Monsignor Gilchrist was especially dedicated to seniors – of all religions and of all ethnic backgrounds – whose rights as tenants were being ignored. He realized the need to be ‘a voice for the seniors who felt they had no voice.’ He formed the Hudson County Tenants Association and fought for a protection act for senior citizens,” Hudson County Executive Thomas said. Read more »
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
There’s no question that when “24” went off the air after eight seasons a few years ago, most had some glimmer of hope that Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) would somehow return.
Now that he has, this time in London, he and “24: Live Another Day” have not disappointed one bit.
Without giving too much away, if you were a fan of the show before, you’re going to love the new incarnation. In this season’s 12-episode run, we’re reunited with Jack who was last told by the former president and utter weasel Allison Taylor he would never be able to return to America.
The White House is now occupied by James Heller (William Devane), father of Audrey Raines (Kim Raver), who before this was the Secretary of Defense. The brilliance of having Heller as president is heightened by his past interplay with Jack, who was once his daughter’s sole love — and who was once his special assistant.
The two had such a terse relationship in seasons past, so their connection this season, before anything starts, is already well-defined. There’s no love lost between them — and it shows in their first London encounter (we won’t go beyond saying that … other than you should look carefully for something being quite off about Heller from the get-go that isn’t related to Jack or Audrey at all). Read more »
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Bellavia Chevrolet Buick has finished construction of its all-new facility, now open at 199 Rt. 17 South in East Rutherford — and customers should really like what they see.
Kevin Holdorf, the general manager of Bellavia Chevrolet Buick, says that with the completion of the new facility, the dealership believes it has raised an already-famous customer service to new heights.
Holdorf says from the dealership’s inception in 1972, the Bellavia family made customer service more than a priority — they made it a way of life. The family’s philosophy: “Treat people the way you want to be treated, and do it on a daily basis.”
This approach to customer service at Bellavia Chevrolet Buick means, among other things, that the dealership’s sales and service personnel are empowered to deal with customer issues right away, before they become serious problems.
As a result of this environment, a bond of loyalty exists between the store, its customers and its employees, many of whom have been with the dealership for 20 years or more, Holdorf says. Read more »
Job Haines Home, 250 Bloomfield Ave., will host these programs:
• FreeArthritis Exercise Program starting on Wednesday, June 11, will be offered for eight consecutive weeks from 10:30 to 11:30 am. The class will be taught by a certified instructor and conducted in accordance with the guidelines established by the National Arthritis Foundation.
• AARP Safety Driving Program will be held Tuesday, June 17, and Wednesday, June 18, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for both days. Attendance is required for both days. The cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members.
Checks should be made payable to AARP. Those who complete the course will receive a certificate that may lead to lower auto insurance premiums.
Light refreshments will be served. To RSVP, call 973-743-0792. For more information, visit www.job-haines.org.
Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., screens the following movies in June: June 5 – “The Monuments Men” (PG-13) (George Clooney), June 9 – “Young Cassidy” (NR) (Rod Taylor), June 12 – “Gravity” (PG-13) (Sandra Bullock), June 16 – “Admission” (PG-13) (Tina Fey), June 19 – “12 Years a Slave” (R) (Michael Fassbender), June 23 – “Man of Steel” (PG-13) (Henry Cavill), June 26 – “American Hustle” (R) (Christian Bale) and June 30 – “The Lone Ranger” (PG-13) (Johnny Depp).
Films start at 12:15 p.m. in the library theater. Admission is free.
Bloomfield Cultural Commission hosts “Songs of Spring,” featuring soprano Zuzanna Ducka Thursday, June 12, 7 to 9 p.m., at Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave. Admission is free.
Washington Middle School PTO will host its second annual Tricky Tray Thursday, June 5, at Harrison High School, 800 Hamilton St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase in the main office of Washington Middle School. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., will hold a flea market Saturday, June 14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both new and used items as well as crafts will be on sale. There will be a snack bar selling breakfast and lunch foods. Tables are still available at a cost of $15 each or two for $25. For more information, call the church office at 201-991- 5894.
New Jersey Blood Services will conduct a blood drive at Domingo’s Bakery, 160 Passaic Ave., June 4, 2 to 8 p.m.
The Salvation Army, 443 Chestnut St., offers computer classes in these areas: basic computer skills (mouse, keyboard, Internet), email and Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel and Powerpoint). Classes are held Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to noon. The class fee is $30 per 12 hours of instruction.
Contact Pete at 201-889-1352 for more information.
Join Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., to kick off the World Cup Tournament Wednesday, June 11, at 7 p.m. Rutgers professor and author Thomas McCabe will present a program on Kearny’s Road to the World Cup, covering the early history of soccer in our area all the way up to the 1990 and 1994 United States teams, which featured three all-star players from this area. A reception with coffee, tea and international desserts will follow.
The first match of the 2014 World Cup Tournament in Brazil will be June 12. Join the library throughout June and July to watch World Cup matches live in the library’s lower level assembly room. Check the library’s website (www.kearnylibrary.org) and calendar for a listing of the matches to be shown.
Junior Women’s Club hosts a crafting event and clothing drive Sunday, June 8, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Kearny Senior Center, 60 Columbia Ave. Come in and craft or just drop off old clothes to be sent to Africa. Donations of old bikes will also be accepted to send to children in Ghana.
Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage, a program for seniors will be presented Wednesday, June 11, at 1 p.m., at the NJMC Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza. John T. Kraft, director of Lenape Lifeways Inc., presents a slide show and discussion that provides a comprehensive overview of the life of the Lenape-Delaware people who once populated New Jersey. Registration is recommended and appreciated. Call 201-777- 2431 or 201-460-8300 to register.
Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., hosts:
• A blood screening Friday, June 6. Appointments begin at 8 a.m. Staff will screen for chemistry profile, cholesterol level, blood count, and thyroid level. This service is available to Lyndhurst residents ages 18 and older for a $20 fee. To preregister for an appointment, call the Health Department at 201-804-2500. Payments can be submitted in cash or checks made payable to Medical Laboratory Diagnostics.
Starting Monday, June 9, the Lyndhurst Food Pantry will be operating only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Normal hours will resume on Sept. 8. The Lyndhurst Food Pantry is staffed by volunteers from the Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst. Patrons must submit proof of need and proof of hardship to the Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1. Call the Health Department at 201-804- 2500 with any questions.
Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., offers the following children’s activities for which registration is required:
• Father’s Day Craft, for pre-k to grade 3, Thursday, June 12, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
• Summer Mobile Craft, for grades 1 to 4, Wednesday, June 18, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
• Summer Reading Registration, for pre-K to grade 6, for “Fizz, Boom, Read,” the library’s summer reading program. Registration concludes June 14. Activities may include science experiments, robot building, Grossology fun, nature explorations, plus programs, prizes drawing, contests, and more. For more information, call the library at 201-804-2480, ext. 3, or visit http://www.lyndhurstlibrary.org/.
Mary Lou Mullins’ monthly bus trip to Atlantic City is set for Sunday, June 29, leaving St. Michael’s Church parking lot, Ridge Road and Page Ave., at 10:30 a.m. Cost is $30, cash return is $30. Only 10 seats left so make reservations early. Call Mary Lou at 201-933-2186 for more information.
During Library Fine Amnesty Week, June 9 to 14, North Arlington Public Library patrons can return overdue materials, no matter how overdue they are, and not pay any fines. Just a few rules: Materials must be owned by and returned to North Arlington Public Library only. The library cannot waive fees for lost items or fines assessed for overdue items already returned. Materials must be returned during regular operating hours and items left in the drop box will not be eligible. Call 201-955-5640 for operating hours and more information.
The library also hosts the following events:
• The Fault in Our Stars Dutch Culture Trivia Contest – Children in grades 7 and up, who are fans of the book, “The Fault in Our Stars” are welcome Wednesday, June 4, at 3:30 p.m. for trivia about Dutch culture, snacks and prizes.
• Jazz at the Angry Coffee Bean: Visit the Angry Coffee Bean, 89 Ridge Road, Thursday, June 12, at 6 p.m., to learn about Newark and the importance of jazz to the city’s culture.
• Registration is open for the Summer Reading kick-off event. Youth Stages will present a play shop for ages 3 to 9, Wednesday, June 25, at 4 p.m. To register, call 201-955-5640, ext. 126.
• Handwriting expert James Mihnerick discusses graphoanalysis – the analysis of handwriting Monday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m.
Arlington Youth Center, 1 Legion Place, (behind Borough Hall) conducts registration for its 2014 summer program through Wednesday, June 11. Sign up Monday to Friday, 2 to 5 p.m. This seven-week program is for borough residents only between ages 5 and 10, costs $40 per week and runs Monday to Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Fridays, 9 to 11:30 a.m. Space is limited and registrants can pick and choose their weeks of enrollment. For more information, call 201-997- 7709.
North Arlington Fire Department Eagle Truck Co. #3 Ladies Auxiliary hosts an art auction fundraiser on Saturday, June 7, at 7 p.m. at NAFD Eagle Truck Co. #3, 3 Legion Place. The event art in all media and price ranges, door prize, wine and cheese, light hors d’oeuvres, dessert and coffee. Admission is $15 per person/$25 per couple. For tickets or information, contact Kelly King at 201-889- 9052.
Mayor Alphonse Petracco and Chief Thomas Strumolo announce the Nutley Police Department’s Bike Rodeo for children ages 12 and younger Sunday, June 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 45 New St. (between Vincent Place and Franklin Ave. next to Nutley High School). The event includes: obstacle course, safety inspections, helmet fit and information on bicycle safety. The first 100 children to arrive receive a free bicycle helmet.
Nutley Recreation Department is accepting applications through June 30 for the 2014 Recreation Cheerleading Program at the Recreation Department, 44 Park Ave. Or, register online at www.Nutleynj.org. This program is open to Nutley youngsters who will be in grades 3 through 8 as of September. The fee is $35. For more information, call 973-284- 4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Nutley’s 49th annual Recreation Golf Tournament — including golfing, lunch, dinner and prizes — will be Monday, June 23, at Hendrick’s Field Golf Course in Belleville. Shotgun start is at 1 p.m. The fee is $125 per player. Participants will have dinner, which costs $65, after golf at The Chandelier. For more information, or to sponsor a hole, contact Frank DeMaio at 973-284-4900, ext. 2512, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Lyndhurst’s softball team captures first-ever state sectional title
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The Lyndhurst High School softball program had to replace an All-Bergen County pitcher, a standout slugging catcher and even the head coach from a year ago.
But that didn’t deter this year’s group from creating a slice of history.
Senior first baseman Alyssa Pipon delivered a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth inning, snapping a 2-2 tie, and lifting Lyndhurst to a 3-2 victory over Madison to capture the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II state championship last Friday afternoon.
The win enabled the Golden Bears (22-7) to secure the school’s first-ever state sectional softball championship.
“That was the theme all week,” said Lyndhurst’s firstyear head softball coach Emily Ringen. “We had a chance to create history.”
First things first. The Golden Bears had to take care of the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference-Liberty Division championship by beating Leonia. It was a game that was postponed due to rain three previous times.
But the Golden Bears defeated Leonia, 5-0, to nail down the NJIC-Liberty title, then put their focus on the state tournament.
In the sectional semifinals, the Golden Bears had to take on Hanover Park, the team that knocked off the Golden Bears in last year’s North 2, Group II final game, denying the Golden Bears the chance to claim their first state sectional crown.
“We had the mindset of redemption,” said Ringen, who replaced former coach Elaine Catanese this spring.
The Golden Bears got their revenge by beating Hanover Park, earning a home game for the state title game against Madison.
“It was a great atmosphere,” said Ringen, who previously played for and served as an assistant coach at perennial state power Pequannock. “The whole community came out. What a feeling that was. We were home. We had to get the job done.”
“In the beginning of the season, we knew we lost a pitcher and a catcher,” said senior Dina Ingenito. “But we all had confidence in each other and knew we could go up from last year. We got to the final and it was do or die.”
The Golden Bears did lose All-County pitcher Casey Zdanek and catcher Julieann Schneidenbach from last year’s team to graduation.
But Jenn Tellefsen moved into the pitching circle and became an instant dominant force, while sophomore Monica Laverty became the catcher and didn’t miss a beat.
In the fourth inning Friday, the Golden Bears were trailing, 2-0, when their pitcher and catcher got involved.
“Jenny hit a homer, then Monica also hit one,” Ringen said. “They turned the game around big time. The girls were honestly getting a little down on themselves, being down two runs.”
The two solo homers from the Lyndhurst battery tied the score, setting up the heroics in the home sixth. It was Tellefsen’s seventh homer of the season and the third for Laverty.
Christina Porta singled and Ingenito walked, sending Pipon to the plate.
“I just knew I had to get the job done,” said Pipon, a four-year fixture at first base for the Golden Bears. “We had to score there and win the game.”
Pipon grounded a single up the middle and Porta raced home with the go-ahead run.
Tellefsen then took the ball for the seventh, determined to seal the deal.
“She got two easy groundballs, but then she walked two batters in a row,” Ringen said. “It was a little heart wrenching then.”
But Tellefsen got the last Madison batter to strike out looking and the title was all Lyndhurst’s.
“When she struck out the last girl, it was chaos,” Ringen said. “It was such an awesome feeling.”
The seniors certainly enjoyed the victory.
“I knew that this was my senior year and this was my top goal,” said Ingenito, who is headed to Felician College to play soccer. “It feels great to be a part of it. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I knew I didn’t want to leave high school without a (state) championship and I was so determined to get it.”
Game hero Pipon agreed.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Pipon, who is headed to Bergen County Community College in the fall. “I’m still speechless. It’s a great feeling. It’s going to be amazing to come back to Lyndhurst and look up at the wall and see our state championship on the banner. I’ve been working all these years and this was absolutely worth it.”
Fellow senior Tomko, the team’s shortstop, had to endure a knee injury last summer, then had to make a tough decision to quit basketball and join the swim team, just to get ready for softball.
“Softball is my favorite sport,” said Tomko, who is headed to the University of Delaware and will not compete in athletics. “This meant the world to me. I’ve been through so many seasons (soccer, basketball and swimming) and this was my last chance. Since the first scrimmage, I knew that if we were going to do it, this was it.
Added Tomko, “It was a total team effort for the whole season. This group is like family to me. To end my career with a state championship is awesome.”
The Golden Bears, now 22-7, were slated to face North 1, Group II sectional champ High Point and the state’s all-time leader in strikeouts in Ally Frei in the overall Group II semifinals Tuesday in Bloomfield.
Needless to say, the Lyndhurst contingent is beyond ecstatic.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said Ringen, who became the first coach to ever lead Lyndhurst to a state title in her first season. “It’s an unreal experience. I give the coaching staff and the players credit, because I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. It’s been such a positive atmosphere all year, keeping everything fun. I guess we set the bar high.”
Having Tellefsen in the circle definitely helped.
“I trusted Jenny all season to get the job done, but she took it into her own hands,” Ringen said. “Everyone knows that high school softball begins and ends in the circle. She has been beyond phenomenal.”
The rookie coach won a state sectional title with a new pitcher and catcher. Needless to say, all three will be back next year as well.
“I can’t put this into words,” Ringen said. “We had a great group of seniors who simply would not leave without creating history. It was always a dream to win a state title. We knew we had the talent. We won and had a lot of fun.”
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Two years ago, Danny Cordeiro was known strictly as a standout soccer player.
North Arlington High School classmate Mike Brazzel was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball.
Now, the two have done wonders to help put the Vikings’ track and field program on the statewide map.
How does that happen? How do a soccer player and a three-sport contributor become track and field standouts?
“I still prefer people talking to me about soccer,” said Cordeiro, who backed up his first place showing in the 800 and 1,600-meter runs at the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I championships two weeks ago with a gold medal performance in the overall Group I championships in South Plainfield Saturday.
“I am glad that people are talking to me about both sports, but I’m still a soccer player,” said Cordeiro, who is headed to the New Jersey Institute of Technology to play soccer in the fall. “I think on paper, it looks like I’m better in track. I didn’t run track before high school. I didn’t even think about it. It just started off as something I did to stay in shape for soccer. Over the years, it’s become a separate thing.”
Cordeiro won three gold medals at the state sectionals, finishing first in the triple jump as well. His fourth event was a fourth place finish in the long jump. It was one of the best allaround performances in the state.
Brazzel was a pitcher on the NA baseball team last spring, when he decided to walk away from baseball and become a javelin thrower.
“It took me a while to figure it out,” Brazzel said. “The coaches always told me that I was good in track.” Brazzel’s interest in the javelin came as a fluke. “It all started with a broken wrist,” Brazzel said. “I was doing the high jump, but after I broke the wrist, I went to the javelin. I never threw it before. I guess it was a lot like throwing a baseball.”
Last year, with just two weeks practice, Brazzel went to the NJSIAA North 2, Group I sectional championships and won the javelin. Two weeks ago, Brazzel repeated as state sectional champion and last Saturday, he took third overall in Group I.
“I guess after a while, track just appealed to me more,” Brazzel said. “It’s very hard for me to believe that I excelled this much. I never would have expected it. This is breathtaking.”
Now the two reluctant track standouts are headed to the granddaddy of all New Jersey track meets, the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in South Plainfield Wednesday night.
“It helps the recognition for the program,” North Arlington head track and field coach Joe Cioffi said. “It’s what we wanted to have. I’m not sure that the novelty has begun to wear off. It’s just that they both have confidence in what they’re doing.”
Cioffi is impressed with the development of both athletes.
“It’s really amazing to see what they’ve done,” Cioffi said. “They won league titles, then state sectional titles and now they’re on to the Meet of Champions. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”
Cioffi credited the work of all his seniors, including P.J. Sirotiak, Anthony Morreale and Thai Scott.
“This group of seniors we had pushed it forward,” Cioffi said. “The icing on the cake was Danny and Brazzel winning. We’ve moved this program forward in four years and I’m really proud of that. Each year, we’ve shown improvement and now we’re sending two athletes to the Meet of Champions. It’s definitely exciting for us.”
Brazzel feels that being a pitcher helped his development as a javelin thrower.
“It’s about the same kind of motion,” Brazzel said. “Being that I had been pitching for a long time made throwing the javelin easier.”
Brazzel plans on competing in both football and track and field at East Stroudsburg University in the fall.
“Track just sort of appealed to me more,” Brazzel said. “It just took a while for me to figure that out.”
Cordeiro is certainly shocked at becoming the school’s first-ever overall Group I champion in track and field.
“I’m definitely surprised, because I never thought of myself as being a runner,” Cordeiro said. “I’m happy what I did, but what we did as a team as well. I want to go to the Meet of Champions and win there. I always go to a meet thinking I can win. I’m really looking forward to it.”
First for Golden Bears since 2011 and second one in 53 years
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
After winning the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I track and field state sectional championship in 2011, veteran Lyndhurst track coach Tom Shoebridge was hoping to get another.
After all, Lyndhurst didn’t have a state title since 1961, so winning in 2011 was pretty special.
A year later, the Golden Bears lost by a single point to Weequahic. Last year, the Golden Bears were second again, this time to Newark Tech.
“We had been second so many times,” Shoebridge said. “We were like the bridesmaids. It was getting tiresome.”
So when the Bears headed to the state sectionals two weeks ago at Ridge High School, Shoebridge was hopeful that he had the makings of another state sectional title.
He was right.
The Golden Bears took no chances this time around, steamrolling the field at the North 2, Group I sectionals. Lyndhurst collected 136 points, some 32 points ahead of the nearest competitor, Shabazz of Newark.
“The kids were great,” Shoebridge said. “It was one hell of a meet. We had a great scouting report going in. I knew we were in the hunt. I told them that if they did what they do consistently, they should win the meet. They did it. But to win by 30-something points is amazing. The kids all performed, right on down the line. We had so many kids involved.” Perhaps the spirit and the will of the Golden Bears is personified in the performance of senior captain Anthony Giaquinto. “He pulled his hamstring and hobbled his way to get fourth place,” Shoebridge said. “That said a lot to me.” Giaquinto just knew that this was his last chance to secure a team crown.
“I thought all season that we had the talent and the potential to do well in the states,” Giaquinto said. “It’s a team sport with individual performances. But it was team first and everyone chipped in. We had so much depth and we needed every single point.”
Billy Hooper won the 3,200-meter run in 10:23.94, winning by more than four seconds.
“He ran a monster twomile,” Shoebridge said. “He was very sick Friday and couldn’t run. But he came back Saturday and won the two-mile.”
Jake Estevez won three medals, finishing second in the long jump and third in the triple jump, while earning a medal as well in the 4×400- relay that finished fourth.
“He’s the first Lyndhurst athlete to jump better than 20 feet in the long jump and 40 feet in the triple jump,” Shoebridge said. “He’s done that in four consecutive meets. He’s a hell of an athlete.”
Kyle Krzastek was second in both the 110 and 400-meter hurdles, as well as third in the high jump and running a leg on the 4×400-meter relay.
“He was good for 26 points on his own,” Shoebridge said. “He’s the best all-around hurdler I ever had.”
Quintin St. Claire is just a sophomore, but he’s making his mark, winning the high jump at 6-0 and finishing second in the 400-meter run..
“He’s only a sophomore, so he’s definitely the future of the program,” Shoebridge said.
Jon Mercado won the shot put for the second straight year and was second in the discus.
“He’s a tremendously dedicated athlete,” Shoebridge said of Mercado. “All he thinks about now is throwing the shot.”
Jose Polanco was the winner of the pole vault.
“It was a big win there, because he’s been trying the pole since he was a freshman,” Shoebridge said. “He deserved it.”
Shoebridge gave Giaquinto a lot of credit for his work.
“He’s a great leader by example,” Shoebridge said. “We have a senior-based team and they all work together to get that sectional. But Giaquinto did the job as a leader and captain.”
Shoebridge will cherish this state sectional title.
“No one believed we could do it,” Shoebridge said. “But the seniors had the mindset we could. It’s as good a senior group that we’ve ever had. We won our fourth league title (the NJIC Liberty Division) and finished fifth in the (Bergen) County C Division. It was another great year.”
Shoebridge also sang the praises of his coaching staff, namely Ed Tessalone, Kim Hykey, Jim Day, Michael Pichardo and David Razscyk.
“I have a tremendous coaching staff,” Shoebridge said. “They make it easier for me.” And although he has retired as a teacher, Shoebridge said he will return next year as head coach. “I still have the passion,” Shoebridge said. “We have a great group of young kids who want to learn. I’m taking it day-by- day, but I plan to be back.”
That’s good news for the Lyndhurst track and field program, because the program is only as good as the guy running the show.