Sports

Five Champions Named Delicious Heights Highlander Athletes of the Week: Part 2

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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -  Five athletes have been named Delicious Heights Athletes of the Week for winning the Union County Championship titles and NJSIAA Group Relay Championship in their respective events. Champions include swimmer Sarah Montagna along with Indoor Track Stars Victoria Vanriele, Andrew Aguilera, and Leah and Lauren Saifi.

  • Sarah Montagna swam past Scotch Plains-Fanwood's Caroline Warren by three 100’s of a second – 5:16.09 to 5:16.12 to win the Union County Championship title in 500 Freestyle. This win provided crucial first place points for GL in their third place team finish behind Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Westfield.
  • Victoria Vanriele set the new Indoor Track school record of 2:15.91 and skimmed .97 seconds off the 800 M Union County Championship record set last year by Amari Onque-Shabazz of Union Catholic. Vanriele subsequently won the NJSIAA Central Group 2 Sectional title in the 800 M and was a member of the sectional championship winning 4 X400 M Relay team along with Nicole Trezza, Cristal Vilasoa, Danielle Petryk.
  • Andrew Aguilera ran a personal best 7.51, currently ranked third in NJ, and broke the school and meet record [set by Jason Cission Jr. of Plainfield last year, by .01 seconds]. Aguilera also took second in the 55 m dash in 6.55. Aguilera followed this up with two NJSIAA sectional titles in the 55 M hurdles in 7.69 seconds and the 55 M dash in 6.53 seconds, a new school record.
  • Leah and Lauren Saifi had a repeat pefrormance taking home their second consecutive NJSIAA Group 2 Relay Championship title by clearing a combined 23 feet. The sisters set a new Group 2 record and tied the All Group relay record. Leah jumped an indoor personal best of 12’ 6” and Lauren jumped her indoor personal best of 10’6”.  Leah’s 12’6” jump puts her at #1 in NJ and #10 in the US for the indoor season. The 10 points earned by the Saifi sisters' first place finish helped the Gov. Livingston Girls Team to their second place overall finish. Subsequently, Leah and Lauren placed first and second at the NJSIAA Central Group 2 championships.

Additional comments from the athletes: Part II:

Pole Vaulters senior Leah and junior Lauren Saifi

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TAPinto: How did you get started in your sport and how long have you been doing track & field?

Leah: I got started because my mom did track when she was younger and I was a gymnast all of my life so I knew I was athletic and thought that I would give it a go. I started running and a girl who graduated that I used to do gymnastics with told me I should pole vault and I just stuck with it.

Lauren: I got started in track after watching Leah pole vault at some meets when i was a freshman. i decided to do it because i had just gotten my knee surgery and knew i wouldn't be able to start back up on gymnastics again. I started Track and Field my sophomore year. 

TAPinto: What do you like most about your team?
Leah: I like how everyone is very supportive of one another and no matter what event you do in track everyone cheers for everyone and knows everyone's name. Its a very positive environment to be in which makes the sport a lot more fun.

Lauren: What I like most about my team is that we are always cheering each other on because we are like one big family. 
TAPinto: Do you have any pregame rituals/superstitions?
Leah: I used to have a lot of superstitions but as I got older I realized it was all in my head. I mean there are some patterns in house I warm up or the things I do but I tend not to think about the things I wear or the way my day goes or what I eat. I realized a short time ago that the only thing that impacts me and my performance is how I physically and mentally prepare for a meet.
Lauren: I do have a superstition and it is that I feel like I won't do as well if I don't wear a certain pair of my Nike elite socks. 
Have you met your season goal?
Leah: No I have not met my season goal yet but have reached a new personal record for myself.
Lauren: I have not met my season goal yet. I would like to PR and possibly make it to Nationals. 
What is your favorite class/professor/why?
Leah: I would have to say my favorite class is Open Studio Art and it is hard to choose a favorite teacher because I have great relationships with so many.
Lauren: Mrs Dhaibar is my favorite teacher because even though I have not had her for a class yet, she is like my mom and she is always looking out for me and taking care of me.
Future plans -- College and major? 
Leah: I am going to Northeastern University in Boston, MA for Architecture.
Lauren: I am not really sure which college I would like to go to yet or what I would like to major in. 
Favorite athlete of all time?
Leah: Yelena Isinbayeva
Lauren: My favorite athlete of all time is Laurie Hernandez because when I was younger I used to be friends with her and compete with her. Ever since I was little I knew she was an amazing gymnast and that one day she would go to the Olympics, and she went to the Olympics and won. 
 
Senior sprinter Andrew Aguilera
TAPinto: How did you get started in your sport and how long have you been doing track & field?
Andrew: I got into track freshman year because I thought it would be a fun thing to do.  Have been running for 4 years.
TAPinto: What do you like most about your team?
Andrew: I like how there are so many people on the team and how everyone is always training hard and putting in work.
TAPinto: Do you have any pregame rituals/superstitions?
Andrew: My pre race rituals include singing songs in my head  and humming. I also slap myself to wake myself up.
TAPinto: Have you met your Season Goal?
Andrew: My season goal was to break school record in the 55h and 55 and I have met that but still want to keep improving.
TAPinto: Future plans -- College and major?
Andrew: I am going to the university of Rhode Island next year.
TAPinto: Favorite athlete of all time?
Andrew: My favorite athlete of all time is Edwin Moses.
 
Sarah Montagna and Victoria Vinriele provide additional comments in 5 Champions are Named Delicious Heights Highlander Athletes of the Week: Part 1

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