SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Jerika Lufrano was one of the biggest stars for the Union Catholic girls track and field team when the Vikings put together the greatest performance in meet history at last Thursday's Non-Public A Relay Championships at the Bennett Center in Toms River.
Lufrano, a senior distance running star, anchored two very fast winning relays to help spark the Vikings to a fifth straight title and a remarkable meet record total of 82 points. The 82 points, just eight points away from a perfect score of 90, broke the girls meet record of 72 that UC scored last year.
The Vikings outscored runner-up Paramus Catholic by 40 points.
Lufrano was her usual sensational self.
In the distance medley relay, Lufrano split 5:04.7 on the anchor leg carry, including a 2:25 final 800, to bring the Vikings across first in a 12:19.84. She came back later to split 2:19.3 as the anchor on the 4x800 that finished first in 9:35.30.
Union Catholic’s DMR is the second fastest time run by a N.J. team this season and the ninth fastest in the nation this season, and its 4x800 time is No. 1 by a N.J. team this season and No. 8 on the U.S. national high school list this season.
In addition to her strong relay legs at the state meet, Lufrano also helped the Vikings win its sixth straight Union County Relay title earlier this month when she split 5:06.7 to anchor the DMR to victory. She has also broken school records this winter in the mile (5:04.09) and the 1,000 (a state leading 2:57.67).
Lufrano was very excited about how her team performed at the state relay meet.
“We are very happy to continue having our hard work pay off,’’ said Lufrano, who won the Union County cross-country title this past fall. “Our girls did an amazing job in each running, jumping, and throwing event. A lot of us had PR’s (personal records). We are all proud of ourselves.’’
“I thought I ran a very smart strategic race (in the DMR) and I’m especially proud about how I closed in 2:25 after a 2:39 opening half,’’ she said. “It gives me confidence and shows that I have great strength and I can break the 5 minute mile barrier. I am happy about the 4x800 as well, hopefully I can get my times down further. I’m proud of my relay teams because they showed no fear, and they did what they came here to do and it ended in a victory.’’
Lufrano said she’s happy with how her season is going and is aiming to keep dropping her times.
“I think my season is going very well,’’ said Lufrano. “I am consistent in my mile and 800 times, and that tells me that I’m ready to bring my times down. I like getting school records and I’m working hard to keep them coming.’’
What is Lufrano’s biggest strength as as a runner?
“My biggest strength as a runner is my knowledge,’’ she said. “I know a lot about running and racing. I race very smart and from racing for over nine years, I’ve learned how to read people during the race and before the race. Another one of my strengths is being able to bounce back very quickly after a disappointing race to the next one, whether it is on the same day or not. What I love most about distance running is the challenge it brings to me and the distance running community. We all understand the everyday struggles we face and we inspire each other to be the very best we can be. All the hard work, the sweat, and the tears are always worth it in the end.’’
UC Head Coach Mike McCabe said Lufrano is a great leader and is running with confidence.
“Jerika is racing with a lot of confidence,’’ said Coach McCabe. “She is leading her younger teammates by example at practice and in meets.’’