Lyndhurst’s Kayla Carrino makes history with gold at Bergen Meet of Champions

For Kayla Carrino, taking second place was not an option. It hasn’t been since she was a runner in the 3200 meter run at the Bergen County Indoor Championship in February.

So when the Bergen County Meet of Champions came around on May 19, the possibility of another silver was not acceptable to the Lyndhurst senior. Instead, Carrino made history.

That day in Hackensack, Carrino became the first Lyndhurst girl to ever take first in any event at the Bergen MOC when she won the gold with a time of 11:43.00. The time was a Lyndhurst school record.

“I honestly think that all of the seconds that I took in winter are the reason I’m placing first right now,” said Carrino, who has taken first in the 3200 in all three meets she’s run this month. “After placing second consecutive times, Outdoor I knew I had to work extra hard to get first place. It’s proving that my hard work is paying off.”

Carrino was a stride ahead of Northern Highlands’ Sadie Meloro when, with about 175 yards remaining, she went into her kick to pull away. By the time Carrino turned the final corner on the Hackensack track, she had opened up a 10-plus yard lead and would win by 1.45 seconds.

“Usually during my races, I don’t have that big of a kick,” Carrino said. “I saw the video and I realized I actually kicked a lot. I think it definitely made me a lot more confident. I’m very confident now going into my races because I didn’t know I had it in me.”

“During the whole race, watching her go, I could just tell that she was going to win this race,” said coach Rich Tuero. “For the first seven laps, there were five girls in a pack, on the last lap she said ‘no, no. I’m coming home with this gold medal today.’ And she did it.”

“I was so shocked because I had no clue. I don’t even think the coaches knew,” said Carrino, who will run cross country at Seton Hall in the fall. “When we found out, we were like no way. A lot of people don’t get to say that they’re the first person in school history to do something. It’s really cool.”

Carrino’s record-setting performance wasn’t the only notable showing by a Golden Bear girl in the Bergen MOC. Sophomore Yasemin Ugurlu finished in third place in the Javelin with a throw of 116-07.00 that smashed her previous personal record. Standout junior Julia Tozduman took fourth in the Long Jump (16-7.5) and seventh in the Triple Jump (34-10)

In the Hudson County Championships in Secaucus on May 18 and 20, Kearny’s team of A’Sya Brown, Daphne Cielo, Hilary Costa and Leandra Dos Santos took second in the 4×400 Meter Relay with a time of 4:26.29. Individually,Costa took second in the High Jump at 4-06.00. Teammate Hadassah Dos Santos was sixth at 4-04.00.

The Kardinals’ Gabriela Pifano won three medals during the championships. The sophomore took second place in the Discus with a throw of 101-07.00. Pifano also took second in the Shot Put with a throw of 31-11.00 and fourth in the Javelin at 82-09.00.

Junior Priscilla Castillo won two medals as well, finishing fourth in the Discus (82-02.00) and sixth in the 100 Meter Hurdles with a time of 18.63.

Junior Aracely Vazquez finished fifth in the Javelin at 82-09.00 and freshman Kaela Cicchino took sixth in the 1600 Meter Run with a time of 5:38.36.

In the Essex County Championships in Newark, Bloomfield senior Albrina Frangu took second in the Shot Put (38-04.75) and fourth in the Javelin (101-06.00). Sophomore Mercedes Cruz-Fletcher finished second in the 100 Meter Hurdles (15.50) and Kailyn Sayers took third in the 400 Meter Hurdles (1:07.91).

Sayers teamed with Samyah Wilson, Ashley Toro and Rylie Sayers to take third in the 4×400 Meter Relay with a time of 4:08.56. Wilson (sixth in the 100 Meter) and Toro (sixth in the 800 Meter Run) also medalled individually.

Taylor Copeck finished fourth in the Pole Vault (8-06.00), Angel Cruz-Fletcher finished fourth in the Long Jump (16-05.50), Kaitlyn Toro was fifth in Discus (93-03.00) and Sarah Hartland took sixth in the Discus (90-05.00).

Nutley had a pair of dual medalists as Marcella Blancato finished third in the High Jump (4-09.00) and sixth in the 400 Meter Dash (1:01.01) and sophomore Jayline Romero took third in the 3200 Meter Run (12:10.82) and fifth in the 1600 (5:34.44). Kate Hickey was fourth in the High Jump (4-09.00) and Ava Iaconoa took sixth in the Pole Vault (7-06.00).

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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 (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)