Saifi and Vanriele Win State Championship Titles at MOC

Credits: TAPinto Berkeley Heights Archive
Andrew Aquilera placed third in 110M hurdles. Credits: Sue Johnson - TAPinto Archive
Brian Rubenstein placed fifth with a personal best in pole vault clearing 14' 6"
4 X 400 relay

COLUMBUS, NJ - The Governor Livingston Highlanders competed at the NJSIAA Outdoor Track and Field Meet of Champions on June 10, at Northern Burlington High School in Columbus.  Leah Saifi won the girls pole vault and Victoria Vaniele won the outdoor 800m title, to go along with the indoor 800m title she won back in February.

Saifi was one of four vaulters to clear 12-6 at the meet - the others were Michelle Rubenetti of Demarest, Jessica Ippolito of Fair Lawn, and Melissa Purcell of Pascack Valley; 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 previously held by Kelly Burke, Nicole Pompei, and Emily Urciuoli. This is 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. She will be vaulting for Northeastern University next year.

Vanriele, only a freshman, won her second consecutive Meet of Champions in the 800m, 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.

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Senior Andrew Aguilera competed in his last race for Governor Livingston in the 110m 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.  The Group 2 champion in the 400m hurdles, the 110m hurdles and the 200m dash, Aguilera will be competing for Syracuse University next year.

Brian Rubenstein, also a senior, came in fifth in the boys pole vault.  One of five vaulters to clear 14-6, Rubenstein was placed fifth on jumps because he made the height on his last attempt.  This was a new personal best for Rubenstein, improving 6 inches over his previous best of 14-0.  He will compete for Bucknell University next year.

Also competing at the Meet of Champions were Lauren Saifi who placed 11th in pole vault clearing 10-6; the boys 4x400 meter relay (Jakada Khalfani, Doug Ladzinski, Justin Ladzinski, and Kilian Quinn); and the girls 4x400 meter relay (Caitlin Colendenski, Danielle Petryk, Katie Quinn and Victoria Vanriele).  Seniors Kilian Quinn and Danielle Petryk finished their GL track and field careers in these events.  The boys placed 26th in a time of 3:27.07 and the girls finished 18th in a time of 3:57.95, shaving .75 off their school record.

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