Kearny enjoys sensational girls’ track season


They come from different backgrounds, different experience levels _ even different schools.

But together, Anna Czykier and Daniela Goncalves had amazing seasons to help the Kearny High School girls’ track and field team to enjoy one of the most successful outdoor track campaigns in recent years.

Both Czykier and Goncalves competed in several events that enabled the Kardinals to finish second at the Hudson County Track Coaches Association Relays and the overall HCTCA championships this spring.

Czykier, who will graduate from High Tech High School this week, but competed for the Kardinals because she resides in Kearny, was as versatile of an athlete that the program has produced.

“She was extremely talented,” said Kearny head coach Al Perez. “I could put her in any event, from the 100 (meter dash) to the 800 (meter run) and the hurdles. She could excel in all of them. I tried to use her as much as I could.”

Czykier (pronounced SHA-KEER) ended up holding school records in the intermediate hurdles and the 400-meter run, the latter a record she tied that was held by assistant coach Mandy Lavelle.

“It’s so nice to be remembered that way,” Czykier said at the annual Hudson County Track Coaches Association awards presentation last Monday night at the Chandelier in Bayonne. “It’s a good feeling to have the records, but it’s also a little bittersweet that it’s over. The time just flew by. I’m amazed at what I was able to accomplish.”

It’s remarkable considering Czykier had to commute every day from High Tech in North Bergen and then get back to Kearny in time for practices and meets.

“It was definitely difficult for her,” Perez said. “She had the added obstacle of trying to get to practice. At times, she came late and had to hop right into practice, then stay late to make up for what she missed. But she’s a very intelligent girl and a hard worker. She’s very responsible and knows what she has to do. It made it a lot easier and eventually it became second nature. She would come late and adjust from there. But she was a great athlete for us and a great competitor.”

Czykier will head to Rutgers in New Brunswick in the fall to begin part of the pre-med program there. She attained a 3.8 grade point average at High Tech and received a score of 31 on the ACT.

“I might try to walk on there,” Czykier said. “I haven’t given much thought to it, but it might be worth giving it a try. I’m just so grateful to have joined the track team here. I made so many friends on this team. I had a blast. It was a great career.”

Goncalves’ story is a lot different, because she didn’t even join the track team until her junior year.

“I tried it a little in sixth grade and enjoyed it, but I didn’t think much of it,” Goncalves said.

Then, she received inspiration from a coach of another sport at Kearny, namely head football coach John Kryzanowski.

“Coach K encouraged me to try to throw the shot put,” Goncalves said. “He thought that I would be really good at it. It took me a while to get it down. It was a big learning experience for me.”

Goncalves said that she was really inspired to have a good season.

“It was my last year, so I was going to try my hardest,” Goncalves said.

It ended up that Goncalves won the HCTCA championships in both the shot put and the discus.

“I never thought I was that good,” Goncalves said. “I don’t think I could ever be good enough.”

Goncalves is headed to Montclair State University in the fall, but doesn’t know if she will compete in track and field there. She will try to major in business.

“But that might change next week,” Goncalves said. “I’m too indecisive.”

Goncalves also shattered school records in the shot put and discus.

“It’s all a shock to me,” Goncalves said. “I never thought any of this could happen. Holding two school records is insane. To win the county championship was amazing, because it was a dogfight.”

Perez was impressed with Goncalves’ work ethic.

“She showed huge gains in every single workout,” Perez said. “She worked hard in the weight room and she put a lot of time in there. But every week, she kept getting better and better. It was exciting to watch her get better and then compete. She became a very pleasant surprise. I knew she had ability, but she just got better. She broke long standing records in indoor and outdoor. It was just exciting to watch. She also did well with the discus and javelin.”

Perez likes Goncalves’ personality.

“She’s just very modest,” Perez said. “She doesn’t realize how well she did. But to hold two school records is very impressive.”

Needless to say, the two will be sorely missed.

“They were good seniors and team leaders,” Perez said. “They led by example. They were huge point scorers for us.”

Goncalves said that she will miss the social aspect to the sport.

“It was fun to get to meet people, especially from other schools,” Goncalves said. “I made a lot of special bonds with people that I never would have had before. It was great. I’m glad I did it.”

So is everyone involved with Kearny track and field. Anna Czykier and Daniela Goncalves will not soon be forgotten.

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
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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.”