Julia Tozduman turned some heads after impressive Meet of Champions performances as a sophomore. But as the Lyndhurst junior made her second appearance at the NJSIAA Indoor Track Meet of Champions at Ocean Breeze in Staten Island on Sunday, merely making it and doing well wasn’t good enough.
For Tozduman, a successful Meet of Champions required returning to New Jersey with a medal.
Thanks to a leap of 17-04.25 on her final jump of the day, Tozduman did just that, finishing fifth in the Girls Long Jump Finals. Tozduman becomes the first Lyndhurst jumper to medal at the Meet of Champions.
Last year as a sophomore, Tozduman took 11th in the Long Jump at the Indoor Meet of Champions then, at the Outdoor MOC, she placed ninth in the event.
“I wasn’t going to let myself leave without a medal this time,” Tozduman said. “My first jumps were good for me, but I knew I needed those extra few inches to solidify that I placed. So far my final jump I just went for it. I need this medal and that’s what I did.
In each of her previous MOC appearances, Tozduman did not reach 17-feet on her jump, a mark she hit on her second attempt on Sunday. Despite that 17-0, she wasn’t sure if that would be good enough to medal.
In hopes of having a better idea of the distance she would need to jump, Tozduman waited towards the end before taking her fourth and final attempt.
When she saw her last attempt was 17-04.25, there was a confidence that it would be good enough to medal. After what Tozduman called “the longest 25-30 minutes ever,” she got the official word that she finished in fifth.
“It was open pit (format) so I waited. I was the third or fourth to last jumper, so I knew I had to jump in the 17 or 18s,” said Tozduman. “I was keeping little mental tabs, but they don’t really tell you the list so it’s going a little bit blind.
“When I saw the jump, I was like ‘ok, this is going to be good.’ so I got a little bit excited.”
“It’s a big deal to be the first Lyndhurst jumper to medal. We get kids there, but they don’t always get a chance to take home hardware, and she did,” head coach Kim Hykey said. “She is a very dedicated kid that will sit there at the beginning of the schedule and (map everything out). This was definitely in her sights when we started in November. She got what she wanted.”
Tozduman also finished 16th in the Triple Jump with a distance of 34-2.5 on Sunday. Among The Observer coverage area, Bloomfield senior Albina Frangu took 20th in the Shot Put with a throw of 33-01.75
Tozduman now turns her attention to the New Balance Indoor Nationals, which take place from March 9-12 in Boston.
“This (performance) was just what I needed to know that I’m meant to be there and that it’s going to be a good meet for me,” said Tozduman. “It shows to me that all of the hard work is paying off. The goal of the season was to get to nationals so when I get there it’s just doing what I know how to do.”
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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.)