Kearny’s Czykier enjoys breakthrough season in track


Photo by Jim Hague Kearny High athlete and High Tech junior Anna Czykier.
Photo by Jim Hague
Kearny High athlete and High Tech junior Anna Czykier.

It’s not easy for Anna Czykier to be a member of the Kearny High School track and field team.

That’s because Czykier doesn’t actually attend Kearny High.

You see, although she is a resident of the town, Czykier is a junior at High Tech High School in North Bergen. Since High Tech doesn’t offer athletics, Czykier is able to compete in her home district.

But it takes quite a bit of effort for Czykier (pronounced SHA-KEER) to get from North Bergen to Kearny after school for practices and then meets.

“I’m always getting to practice late,” Czykier said. “I’m like 40 minutes late every day. The team has already started doing their workouts by the time I get there. Sometimes, I jump in late, but others I have to work out by myself.”

Kearny head coach Al Perez knows just how tough it is for Czykier.

“I think it takes a special commitment on her part,” Perez said. “With her schedule, we’re constantly making adjustments. She basically has to practice a lot on her own. It’s not easy for her. It’s a special dedication and an additional challenge.”

Her Kearny teammates don’t seem to mind.

“I never really noticed any difference there,” Perez said. “They’ve all mixed in well together.”

“My teammates are very supportive of me,” Czykier said. “It’s fine.”

When Czykier has to train on her own, she has to practice her craft of being a hurdler, setting up the hurdles to insure a proper workout.

“I really don’t mind,” Czykier said. “I do what I have to do.”

This spring has been one to remember for Czykier, as she has taken the leap – or the hurdle, so to speak – into the very elite in the county and the state.

Two weeks ago, Czykier won three gold medals at the Hudson County Track Coaches Association championships and one silver medal. She won the 400-meter hurdles in 1:04.78, won the 800-meter run in 2:20.46 and ran the anchor leg of the Kardinals’ winning 4×400-meter relay (along with Jasmine Curtis, Caitlin Mead and Natasha Magee), while placing second in the 400-meter dash.

A week later, Czykier was at the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state sectionals where she had more success, winning the state sectional gold medal in the 400-meter dash in 59.18 seconds, finishing second in the 400-meter hurdles and 15th  in the 200-meter dash.

Last weekend at the overall Group IV state championships at Egg Harbor, Czykier was 13th  in the 400-meter hurdles and 17th in the 400-meter dash.

And she is only a junior, so she has another year to improve on her standing both locally and among the state.

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

Czykier is shocked with how much she has improved over the last year.

“It’s very surprising,” Czykier said. “It’s really exciting what has happened. I really don’t know how it happened. I just wanted to qualify for the Groups (the Group IV meet). I wasn’t expecting to win anything. I didn’t know how it would all play out. But it’s definitely a surprise. I didn’t think I was capable of it.”

“She’s really stepped it up this year,” Perez said. “I think during the indoor season, we saw her do well in the 400 (meter run) and that was a big eye opener for us. We realized she could compete at that level. But coming into the spring outdoor season, she really stepped it up. We saw such a big difference.”

In the process, Czykier broke two Kearny school records in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, so her name will live on in perpetuity at a school she never attended.

Winning county and state championships went practically unnoticed at the school Czykier does attend.

“I’m pretty sure if you ask anyone in school, they wouldn’t know,” Czykier said. “But it’s fine, because I really don’t like attention.”

Czykier said that she loved Perez’s reaction after she broke the hurdles records.

“I really think Coach was more excited than I was,” Czykier said. “I was just in a state of shock that it happened.”

“She’s had a great year,” Perez said. “It’s very exciting. I just hope it continues.”

It’s safe to say that Czykier has a bright future in track and field.

“I really like racing, so I’ll continue to do it,” Czykier said.

And she’s getting used to the transportation issues to and from practices.

“It’s really not that bad,” Czykier said.

Not as long as you’re winning county and state gold medals.

Learn more about the writer ...

Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”