Julia Tozduman had a set of goals for herself before sophomore year in track & field. So when Tozduman punched her ticket to the Meet of Champions this weekend, she wasn’t necessarily shocked because, frankly, it was something she was envisioning for months.
With a jump of 17-3.5, Tozduman took fourth place in the Long Jump at the Group 2 championship and, in the process, checked off another goal in what has been a breakthrough sophomore season.
Tozduman’s performance at Franklin High School has made her the final The Observer Athlete of the Week of the 2021-22 school year.
Tozduman is the only Observer-area athlete to qualify for this year’s Meet of Champions. Her jump was the 16th best among all girls during the six group championship meets.
“I felt confident going into the season because I practice and train frequently. I always set goals at the start of the season and the Meet of Champions is such a great opportunity and was one of my goals for the season,” Tozduman said. “I was not as shocked to qualify as I felt more relieved.
“It means so much to be heading to the Meet of Champions my sophomore year because I am still so young. I have been training all season and it just feels great for it to pay off in the end. I am excited to have this experience and watch all the amazing athletes there.”
Tozduman qualified for the Indoor Meet of Champions this winter in the Long Jump, finishing 11th overall with a then-personal record of 16-11. A little more than two months later, she smashed that mark and set a new school record with a leap of 18-1 to take first place in the Group 2 division at the Gene Littler Bergen County Championships the weekend of May 13-14.
Three weeks later, Tozduman had arguably her greatest all-around performance during the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 championships in Randolph. She took home gold in the Triple Jump with a personal best 34-11, while also taking third in Long Jump and 400 Meter Dash as well as fourth in the 200 Meter Dash to help lead Lyndhurst to a second-place finish in the team standings.
“Medaling in four events seems crazy to me just because one of the events was the 400 Meter and I just picked that event up this season,” Tozduman said.
Tozduman first started running track in the sixth grade and said she “started to really focus on it,” in her freshman year at Lyndhurst.
“I realized I had speed from soccer, even when I was young. That is what made me try out track,” said Tozduman, a starting defender on the Golden Bears girls’ soccer team. “During track, I tried long jump and realized that it was something I wanted to focus on further and try to perfect.”
Now, after a stellar season on the local and Group 2 levels, she gets a chance to compete among the very best. It also proves to be the ideal opportunity for her to set even more goals for herself after meeting so many this spring.
“I think the Meet of Champions will prepare me for future meets since the competition is tough. It’s such a great experience that even being there is an accomplishment,” Tozduman said. “I like to watch other athletes and it will give me the drive to set and reach more goals. I think I can use MOC to show me that I am capable of accomplishing more when it comes to track.”
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)