Lyndhurst T&F star Tozduman signs with Sacred Heart, eyes big senior season

Julia Tozduman saw most of the state’s top Track & Field athletes sign their national letters of intent (NLI) for college a month ago, but didn’t let it bother her as she remained uncommitted. Instead, she chose to remain patient with a recruiting process that has been more than a year in the making.

For Tozduman, the patience has paid off as Lyndhurst’s star jumper was all smiles as she signed her NLI to compete at Sacred Heart University in a ceremony at Lyndhurst High School last week.

“I was staying patient, not letting it bother me,” said Tozduman. “When I saw that everyone was signing, I was thinking I probably should make my decision sooner. But I trusted my process and that everything was going to work out the way it was supposed to.”

Tozduman made her verbal commitment to jump at Connecticut school on Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving. Prior to her commitment, she visited Sacred Heart’s campus twice.

“I loved the campus so much. It was so beautiful and I loved the size of it,” Tozduman said. “I also loved the coaching staff, they were really great. On both of the visits I went on, I felt like I belonged there. I met the team on my visit and they all were super nice to me. All of those factors played a role and I just loved the school.”

Tozduman also cited the University offering a major in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing as a big factor in her decision.

“Julia is definitely excited and looking forward to the next chapter,” Lyndhurst indoor track coach Kimberly Hykey said. “Sacred Heart has been at the top of her list because they had her major and a great track and field facility in addition to her getting along well with the coach.”

While Tozduman was patient with her recruiting process, she has felt more relaxed since making her commitment, saying that she feels “more fluid and able to just focus,” on her training in recent weeks.

“I think it’s a huge weight off her shoulders,” said outdoor track coach Rich Tuero. “Having that comfort knowing exactly where your future is going to be is a wonderful feeling.”

As a junior, Tozduman had one of the best seasons by an Observer-area girls track athlete in recent memory. Last winter, she became the first Lyndhurst girl to ever medal at the NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions when she took fifth in the Long Jump with a leap of 17-04.25 that helped her qualify for the New Balance Nationals. Tozduman also took 16th in the Triple Jump at the MOC.

A few months later at the Outdoor Meet of Champions, Tozduman took home ninth place at the Long Jump for the second year in a row with a leap of 17-04.25, eight inches better than the year before, and took 20th in the Triple Jump at 35-10.25.

Earlier in the outdoor season, Tozduman set a school record in the Long Jump and then broke her new personal best with a leap of 18-07.50 at the Gene Littler Bergen County Championships. She also had one of the best individual performances in school history at the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 Championships when she took gold in the Long and Triple Jumps, while also getting a medal in the High Jump.

Since the conclusion of the spring season, she’s been refining her technique at High Intensity Track twice a week in addition to her workouts at school in preparation for her senior year.

“I’m just trying to stay consistent with my jumps and see the progress that I’ve been making,” Tozduman said. “I’ve been learning a new technique that I can’t wait to try and just put into the pit.”

While Tozduman did not put specific goals on the upcoming seasons, her coaches feel that she’s poised to have an even bigger senior year thanks to all the work she’s put in.

“Julia is one of the most dedicated and driven athletes I’ve ever coached,” Hykey said. “She is working on new technique in the long jump and I think the sky is truly the limit for her. She is always working and studying her craft so while she has already achieved much success, I do believe there is more she is capable of.”

“Julia’s work ethic is second to none,” said Tuero. “It’s record breaking season for Jules!”

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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.)