Sports

Gov. Livingston Track Stars Aguilera, Saifi and Vanriele Named Delicious Heights Highlander Athletes of the Week; A Championship Season for the Record Books

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -  Gov. Livingston Track and Field finished the season with an assault on the school record books with 18 new school record setters and capturing a first ever boys team NJSIAA Group II Championship title.

Victoria Vanriele and Leah Saifi were crowned state champions and Andrew Aguilera placed third in their respective events. These three athletes are named Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of  the Week for their successful results at the Meet of Champions.

The Meet of Champions includes the top six finishers in each event at the six state group championship meets, plus wild card entries.

Sign Up for E-News

Senior Andrew Aguilera won three events at the NJSIAA Group 2 Championship – the 400 M hurdles (54.68), the 110 M hurdles (personal best 14.25), and the 200 M dash (22.01). Aguilera scored 30 of the team’s 46 points for the team's first ever first place finish.  He moved on to compete in his last race for Governor Livingston in the 110 M hurdles, taking third place behind state record holder Cory Poole, in a time of 14.35.  Aguilera came into the race ranked fourth in the state.  Originally scheduled to compete in the 200m dash as well, Aguilera was scratched from that event due to a foot injury. 

Aguilera is the current Gov. Livingston record holder of seven outdoor events: 100 M Dash in 10.90 (2017); 200 M Dash in 21.75 (2017); 400 M 50.01; 110 M Hurdles in 14.25 (2017); 400 M Hurdles 54.04 in (2017); he is a member of the 4 x 400 record team of Kilian Quinn, Jakada Khalfani and Doug Ladzinski in 3:24.70 (2017); and a member of the 4 X 110 Hurdles team of Alexander Janiak, Doug Ladzinski and Jon Longo in 1:03.37 (2017)

Senior Leah Saifi was one of four pole vaulters to clear 12-6 at the Meet of Champions, however, she was the only vaulter able to make that height on her first attempt, enabling her to win the meet on jumps. Saifi and the others tied the meet record. This was the first outdoor Meet of Champions title for Saifi, who won the indoor MOC in 2016. It caps Saifi’s stellar career of vaulting for Governor Livingston and completes her comeback from an ankle injury suffered at the end of the indoor season. Saifi holds the Gov. Livingston record for outdoor pole vault at 12-8 which she reached in 2016 at the East Coast Relays and 13-05 at the 2017 indoor Eastern State Indoor Championships. 

Victoria Vanriele, only a freshman, won her second consecutive Meet of Champions in the 800 M, lowering her personal best time to 2:08.18. She finished the race over a second in front of Lexi Del Gizzo of Tenafly, last year’s winner.  Vanriele also lowered her state freshman record at the distance.

Vanriele is the Gov. Livingston record holder in 8 events including: 200 M in 25.88; 400 M in 55.69; 800 M in 2:08.18; 1600 M in 4:55.92; One Mile in 5:05.00; she is a member of the 4 X 400 relay team of Caitlin Colendenski, Katie Quinn and Danielle Petryk in 3:57.95; a member of the 4 X 800 M relay team of Danielle Petryk, Katie Quinn and Cristal Vilasoa in 9:27.79; and member of the Sprint Medley Relay team of Caitlin Colendenski, Caroline Peer and Katie Quinn in 4:13.95. 

Below are comments from the track stars regarding their past, present and future:

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: What does a normal day of training look like for you?

Aguilera: A normal day of training is either a sprint workout or a hurdle workout. I try not to do too many hurdles during practice because that leads to injury. 

Saifi: Usually drills or we vault. Sometimes we have full conditioning and strength days but not often. 

Vanriele: Middle distance runners need to have endurance, as well as be fast, strong and flexible. As a middle distance runner, I range from taking long runs to practicing sprints. I do conditioning workouts, as well as drills and stretches. I work on my starts and my form. In a training session, I do combinations of these elements. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: How have you seen progress throughout the past 6 or so months, from the beginning of the indoor season until now?

Aguilera: From the beginning of winter track to now I have seen so much progress. In the beginning of the winter season I was just trying to make it to the Meet of Champs I didn't expect to medal. Now in the spring I progressed to the point where I should be a medalist at MOCs.

Saifi: Well, I got hurt indoor so I had to recover and then pretty much start from scratch again for outdoor 

Vanriele: Each year is a cycle. I start off slower and get faster as my training advances and I race more. For 2017 indoors, my slowest open time for the 800 was a 2:16; by the outdoor Meet of Champions I ran a 2:08. For 2016 indoors, my times ranged from 2:22 to a season best of 2:09.  I would say that this year I got stronger, and was more consistent in running fast.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: What is your favorite venue to compete at?

Aguilera: My favorite venue to compete at GL. The venues this season were not that great and being at GL gave an advantage because I was used to the conditions. 

Saifi: Definitely the NYC Armory. everything is so crammed which a lot of people don’t like but its cool being able to watch all the events and not have to walk all the way to the other side of the track to.

Vanriele: I really like the venue at Northern Burlington High School, where the Group II meet and Meet of Champions were held.  The track is cushioned.  Plus, there are many fields for warming up and cooling down.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: If you could meet any other track athlete, high school or beyond, who would it be?

Aguilera:  I have met so many athletes from all over NJ. It's hard to say what other track athlete I would meet. I guess I would like to meet Omar McLeod because he won gold in the 110H at Rio last summer.

Saifi: Definitely Sandi Morris because she’s a vaulter and seems super cool lol

Vanriele: I would love to meet Ajee Wilson.  She is a 2016 Olympian from Neptune, New Jersey and holds the American indoor record in the 800.  She set several New Jersey high school records that still exist.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: You also run and high/long jump on occasion. What is your next favorite event, behind pole vault?

Saifi: To run its the 4x1. But even though i can’t do it if my life depended on it, my favorite event to watch is the high hurdles and the 4x4s

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: What is your favorite race to run? Why?

Aguilera: My favorite race to run is probably the 110 hurdles because of how difficult it is. Nobody really thinks it's a hard race because it's so short but running full speed at 10 obstacles while taking 3 steps in between is harder than it looks.

Vanriele: While I am more accomplished in the 800, I prefer running the 400.  It's exciting, especially for relays. I ran the 400 a lot this year in relays and I am getting faster at it.  I am pleased that I dropped my time down to 55 seconds.  

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: When you're not competing or training, what do you like to do in your free time?

Aguilera: When I'm not competing or training I like to eat a lot and sleep a lot. I'm also constantly watching videos on hurdles on YouTube.

Saifi: SLEEP.

Vanriele: I really don't get a lot of free time. But, I like to socialize, shop and eat out.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights:  Why did you join the track team freshman year? If you could go back in time, would you change anything from the time you joined to now?

Aguilera: I joined track because on the first day of school freshman year coach Hubert told me I was going to hurdle. So then I signed up for track and a couple months later I was hurdling. If I were to go back I wouldn't change my mind I've had such a great time running track. 

Saifi: I joined track because my mom did track. If I could change something it would be me doing winter track all 4 years and starting pole vault asap.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Who has inspired you the most throughout your time at GL?

Aguilera: It's hard to say what person has inspired me the most. I think what inspired me the most is hearing all the coaches talk about the great runners that came through GL and I just wanted to be one of the greats. 

Saifi: I'd have to say Coach Somma. He was my first coach that i knew for the team and even though he wasn’t my event coach all 4 years, he always was there to help me, watch me, and coach me when he could which means a lot.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: How did it feel when you won the Meet of Champions in the pole vault for the second time?

Saifi: I really don’t know because I was so nervous. It didn’t even feel real to be honest.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: How did it feel when you led the GL Boys' track team to the Group 2 State Championship with your three wins? What did it feel like to represent the Highlander community?

Aguilera: When we won the state championship I was so distracted with actually running the races that I wasn't even aware of the point situation. After the first race of the meet Coach Guyton jokingly says to me "hey we're in the lead" because it was the first race of the day and I won it. From that point on I did not expect us to stay in the lead. I didn't even know I won the 200 until I was being interviewed and I was asked how I felt about my 3 wins to which I responded I didn't know I even won 3 races. But it does feel good knowing that we are the first GL track team to win a state championship 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: How did it feel when you won the Meet of Champions in the 800m for the second time?

Vanriele: I was stressed for the entire week leading up to the competition.  My times in eighth grade would have won both of the 2016 MOC's, so I really wanted to actually win both of the 2017 championships.  Before the meet, there was media coverage stating that Olympian Joetta Clark was the only female who had won the New Jersey MOC in the 800 as a freshman.  I felt relieved when it was over, because I proved to myself that I am able to handle the pressure. 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Why did you choose to continue your track career at Northeastern?

Saifi: I love Boston and Northeastern is an amazing school. When I went on my official visit i quickly learned that I would fit in really well with the people on the team and the coaches. I'm super excited for next year.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Why did you choose to continue your track career at Syracuse?

Aguilera: I chose to go to Syracuse because they are known for their great hurdlers and are very selective in their recruiting. They have had 2 hurdlers in the last 5 years either win NCAAs or come in second multiple times. When Syracuse reached out to me I quickly agreed to go for an official visit and once I visited I knew I wanted to go there. At the time of my signing I was their first sprint/hurdle recruit in 2 years so it felt good to be part of such a select group of people.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: What are you goals for the future, near and distant?

Vanriele: I was happy that the boy's team won the group two championship for our school. I would love to be a part of the girl's team that wins a state championship for GL.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights: How do you keep motivating yourself to get better?

Vanriele: I know that I have a lot of room for improvement. I broke several New Jersey high school records this year, but there are more that would require me getting much better to break. This keeps me motivated.

_________________________________________

Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Delicious Heights, a family restaurant with three locations; Berkeley Heights, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, where it is part of the Basking Ridge County Club operating a public restaurant with outdoor dining, and acting as the banquet caterer, boasting a facility with panoramic views of the sprawling golf course. Visit our website, www.deliciousheights.com for weekly specials including Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm and daily featured dinner and lunch specials. Delicious Heights....where our only limitations are yours!

Delicious Heights is located at 428 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights. 908.464.3287; 285 Main Street in Bedminster. 908.234.1596; 185 Madisonville Road in Basking Ridge. 908.766.9499.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

A Holiday Feast For Train Fans Is On Display At The Model Railroad Center

November 23, 2017

Looking for something to do the day after Thanksgiving? Drop in to the Model Railroad Center and enjoy a festive sound and light show highlighting a sprawling, meticulously detailed HO layout.

See if you can spot the Batmobile and other surprises!

Snack bar, toddler rest area and gift shoppe conveniently located on site. Modest admission fee goes to support the non-profit Model Railroad ...

Greater Union County United Way Participates in Giving Tuesday Campaign

UNION COUNTY, NJ – On Tuesday, November 28, 2017, United Way of Greater Union County will participate in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that follows Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encouraging generosity and philanthropy around the world.

United Way of Greater Union County, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, focuses on providing critical resources to children and ...

Summit Area YMCA Hosts 6th Annual Auction & Comedy Fundraiser, Raises Over $110,000

On November 3rd, 2017, nearly 400 friends and neighbors in the community gathered at the Hilton Short Hills for the 6th Annual Laugh Out Loud Charity Auction and Comedy Night (LOL) fundraiser. Attendees not only enjoyed a night of laughter and drinks, but more importantly supported programs at the Summit Area YMCA. From special needs programs to sponsoring fitness memberships for military ...

Basking Ridge Holiday House Tour & Boutique, Friday, Dec. 1, to Aid Adults with Autism

 

Get into the spirit of the holiday season this Friday, December 1st, by shopping and touring stunning Basking Ridge homes.  Check in between 9 am and 3 pm at Congregation B'Nai Israel, 40 Whitenack Road, Basking Ridge, to shop boutique vendors, pick up maps and wristbands, and proceed to visit four spectacular homes decked for the holidays between ...

Please Stop Trucks on McMane Avenue, Berkeley Heights

November 22, 2017

McMane Avenue has been used by the county as a u-turn for westbound I78 for years. However, with the use of GPS equipment, hundreds of trucks use this road to not perform a u-turn, but to get off one exit early to go to Weldon Materials at the bottom of Diamond Hill Rd. They start at 4:30 a.m. and must change gears due to the turn and the hill. Literally there can be one per minute. The ...

Many People Deserve Thanks for Berkeley Heights Volleyball Program

To the Editor:

I had the privilege of attending the GL Volleyball banquet. At the banquet it struck me that there are so many people who deserve a big “Thank You” for having a hand in creating such a positive program for the girls.

First, the Board of Education deserves thanks for approving this experiment four years ago. The Athletic Director Ann Clifton and the Volleyball ...

Rutgers Leaders to Join Governor-Elect Murphy’s Transition2018 Team

November 22, 2017

More than 20 leaders at Rutgers University, including Rutgers University–New Brunswick Chancellor Deba Dutta, will join Governor-elect Philip D. Murphy’s Transition2018 committees to undertake policy analysis and recommendations on a host of state issues and new initiatives as the new gubernatorial administration prepares to take office.

The committees, comprised of policy experts ...

The 2017 Houdaille Quarry Walk, Sunday in Springfield: Get on the Other Side of the Fence

November 17, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The Houdaille Quarry, often called the “Grand Canyon of Union County”, and normally closed to the public, will be open on Sunday, November 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 3 p.m. for Fall Foliage walks sponsored by the Springfield Environmental Commission.

This is a rare chance to get to go on the other side of the fence and see the Quarry, which is an ecologically unique ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_d69ceb5faf3aba873daa_img_1604

Fri, November 24

Luminous MedSpa & Salon, New Providence

Luminious MedSpa & Salon "Sneak Peak" Event

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_4bc5226b472166eaed75_renewsalon

Fri, November 24

ReNew Salon and Spa, Gillette

ReNew Salon and Spa Offers Black Friday Weekend ...

Health & Wellness

Fri, November 24, 10:00 AM

The Red Mill Museum Village, Clinton

Festival of Trees

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Fri, November 24, 3:00 PM

The Max Challenge , New Providence

Holiday Festival Adoptions & Bake Sale @ The Max ...

Other

Fri, November 24, 5:00 PM

West Orange

Holiday Lights Spectacular

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Mayor's Round Table Highlights Berkeley Heights Business Community Winter Walk and Attractions

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Mayor's Round Table is a monthly show hosted by Dr. Donald DeFabio, who sits with Mayor Robert Woodruff to talk about current issues that affect the township.

Included in this episode, Dr. DeFabio talks with originators of the Berkeley Heights Winter Walk Bobbie Peer, owner of TAPinto Berkeley Heights, and Cheri Pertesis, owner of Anything Floral.

Click ...

I Reported It Myself!

Each year there seems to be more schools relying on self-reported test scores and transcripts on their applications.  While they may, in the long run, streamline the application process I’ve seen them cause a good amount of stress during this already stressful process.  Should an optional test score self-report be filled in?  How do I know whether to mark my class as a ...

Five “No-Brainer” Moves Before Year-End to Strengthen Your Finances

Here are 5 “no-brainer” moves you can make before year-end to strengthen your finances:

1. Taxes: NJ AND NY RESIDENTS ALERT: If Congress pushes through tax reform that eliminates state and local tax exemptions, many NJ and NY residents (along with MA and CA residents) will be hit with tax increases. One estimate says NJ residents, for example, will need to pony up an additional ...