Local track stars conclude season at Nationals in Philadelphia

After a long, and often tense, track and field season, Bloomfield head coach Terry Iavarone looks at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor as a final reward after two-plus months of action.

“It’s definitely a reward for having a great spring season. There’s so many talented teams from across the United States that just getting into the championship race and qualifying for it is the ultimate reward,” said Iavarone. “It really is the cherry on top of a long track and field season. It’s a good reward.”

Five Observer-area athletes, Lyndhurst star junior long jumper Julia Tozduman and Bloomfield’s 4×400 Relay team of Cristian Armstrong, James Fields, Nathaniel Brown and Kalel Deimedici, got to enjoy that reward the weekend of June 15-18 at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

“It meant a lot to me because I had worked all season for that moment,” Tozduman said. “Nationals is a great way to end a season like I had.”

Tozduman placed 12th out of 54 competitions with a jump of 17-08.25. The performance was four inches further than her jump at the Meet of Champions earlier in the week, which was good for ninth in the state.

For Todzuman, it was her second trip to nationals. In March, she qualified for the New Balance Nationals Indoor in Boston. There, she jumped 16-07.75.

“I wanted to end the season on a high note,” said Tozduman. “I knew nationals was going to be very competitive so a jump in the high 17s was what I had in mind. I was happy to improve upon my mark from Meet of Champions.:

“It’s not surprising at all,” head coach Rich Tuero said. “When Julia is on and she hits that board, she jumps 18-feet easily.

“It meant a lot to us because she worked hard for this.”

Also at nationals, Armstrong, Fields, Brown and Deimedici ran a time of 3:24.85. For Bloomfield, it was only the second time the school ever sent a 4×400 team to nationals and the first since 1969.

The Bloomfield quartet qualified for nationals, when at the NJSIAA Group 4 championship, ran the second best time in school history, 3:21.53, less than 48 hours before the deadline.

“For those four kids it was really special, especially for senior Cristian Armstrong,” said Iavarone. “He had an incredible three-year track and field career. Each year he got better and better. He wound up finishing with 444 points in three years of varsity, which is almost unheard of. To have him showcase how talented he is at the biggest stage of track and field was especially special.”

Armstrong, a standout sprinter and jumper, will continue his track career next year at Saint Peter’s University. Brown will play football at Pace University in the fall.

Bloomfield will return Deimedici, a junior and Fields, a sophomore, next season.

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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.)