Chalk up another Hudson County title for Kearny girls’ track

The incredible track and field season that the Kearny High School girls’ team is enjoying just got one championship better.

The Kardinals added the Hudson County Track Coaches Association’s individual championship to their impressive resume, winning the HCTCA title last week at the New York Armory by a convincing fashion over runner-up Snyder.

The Kardinals compiled 94 points compared to Snyder’s 56. St. Dominic Academy finished third with 46.

The Kardinals won the HCTCA Relays championship earlier last month, completing the local exacta.

Kearny head track and field coach Al Perez was pleased with his team’s efforts.

“We scored in every event,” Perez said. “We knew we had a strong team. We also knew that Snyder had no distance runners to speak of and St. Dominic had no field events. So we were pretty confident going in. Other teams might have had some things we weren’t aware of, but our girls were really focused and confident. This was something that our girls really wanted.”

Perez spoke of the selflessness and commitment of some of his runners for the sake of the team results.

“Abigail Rosas made a lot of sacrifices,” Perez said. “She didn’t run her best event (the 800-meter run) to put the team in a better position to win.”

Perez also recognized Rosas’ dedication to the team.

“She went to a special meet (the Bill Reid Invitational) at the Jersey City Armory on Friday,” Perez said. “She was our only varsity runner to be there. She went on her own just so she could get a qualifying time in the 400 (meter run). That’s our senior captain, making sacrifices for the team.”

Rosas did manage to collect a gold medal by winning the 1,600-meter run in 5:27.91

Maria Laverde was her typical brilliant self, winning the 800-meter run in 2:28.01 and the 3,200-meter run in 11;59.72, giving the team a much needed 20 points. It’s now almost customary to expect Laverde to win, because she wins practically all the time. She continues to etch herself in the place of Kearny’s all-time greats.

Kassandra Jovellanos added another 10 points by winning the gold medal in the 55-meter dash in 7.47 seconds.

“She was impressive,” Perez said of Jovellanos.

Melissa Waters broke her own school record by winning the 55-meter hurdles in 8.66 seconds. Waters also contributed to the team score by placing fifth in the long jump and sixth in the 55-meter dash.

Sophomore Noelia Almanzar also had a very solid meet, playing second to teammate Laverde in the 800 and third to teammate Laverde in the 3,200-meter run.

“She’s really come on and taken that step up into another level,” Perez said about Almanzar’s performance. “She trains with Abby and Julie (Castillo), who basically show her the way and she performs.”

Julie Castillo also had a fine meet, finishing third in the 800-meter run and helping the Kards to a fifth place finish in the 4×400-meter run.

“We swept the 800 (Laverde, Almanzar, Castillo),” Perez said. “Once we did that (getting 24 points in that one event) we knew we had the meet won. We knew that once Abby (Rosas) did well, we were going to have a good meet. It means so much having someone with that flexibility.”

The Kards have some other meets before the NJSIAA state sectionals, where the Kards hope to continue the great run.

“We have goals for the state sectionals,” said Perez of his team in the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV meet. “We have goals to pursue.”

But it’s been a dream year so far, capturing two Hudson County championships.

“It really has been a great season,” Perez said. “It’s been really enjoyable. The kids are working hard and they’re really into it.”

On the boys’ side, Nicholas Xavier won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:00.77, just crossing the line ahead of Francisco Rodas of Bayonne, earning a county championship in the process. Kearny finished sixth overall on the boys’ side.




The individuals who won Hudson County Track Coaches Association championships get together after their fine performances. From left are Kassandra Jovellanos (55-meter dash), Maria Laverde (800 and 3,200-meter runs), Nicholas Xavier (800-meter run), Abigail Rosas (1,600-meter run) and Melissa Waters (55-meter hurdles). Photo courtesy of Al Perez



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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.”