BERKELEY HEIGHTS - A quartet of spring Track and Field stars have been named Delicious Heights Athletes of the Week for qualifying and competing in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Andrew Aguilera, Michelle Almeida, Kenedi Facey and Brian Rubenstein are acknowledged for their commitment and success competing against the best in the state.
Andrew Aguilera holds two individual school records in 100 M Dash and 110 M Hurdles and heads to his senior year hungry to capture a third individual school record for 400 M Hurdles. (Details below.).
He placed fifth in the NJSIAA Group 2 Championships in 400 M Hurdles and advanced to the Meet of Champions placing 13th overall with a time of 55.56.
Aguilera was named to the 1st Team All County for High Hurdles, All Conference for 110 and 400 M Hurdles and qualified for Nationals.
Michelle Almeida’s name is also attached to three school records, sweeping all three throwing events -- Shot Put, Discus and Javelin. (Details below). Placing 5th in the NJSIAA Group 2 Championships with a hurl of 118-01, she advanced to the Meet of Champions placing 18th overall.
Almeida was named to the 2nd Team All County for Discus and All Conference for Shot Put. She will continue throwing for Georgian Court University where she will study Excessive Science and a minor in Business.
Kenedi Facey not only broke her personal best in Long Jump with a leap of 17-10.50, she also broke the school record of 16-11.00, set by Catroina Quinn in 2010. She placed 5th in the NJSIAA Group 2 Championships with a jump of 17-00.5 to advance to the Meet of Champions. She was named All Conference for Long Jump.
Facey will continue to compete at the Division I level for Mount Saint Mary’s University where she will major in Business.
Brian Rubenstein was the NJSIAA Group 2 Champion in Pole Vault clearing 13-06. He placed fifth overall at the Meet of Champions clearing 14-00, which was the second time he reached this personal best mark. Rubenstein was named to the 1st Team All State NJSIAA Group 2 and to the 2nd Team All County.
Coach Joseph Hubert is quick to credit the team's success to the strength of his senior leaders. "The Boys' team has been on task for years and senior leadership and performance is expected," he said. "I believe the Girls have turned the corner through the example of the seniors."
"I have seen an increase in commitment and remain optimistic about both teams," Hubert added. Greater commitment reaps rewards, and Hubert cannot have "too many committed athletes, The more committed athletes, the greater likelihood for a team championship."
He doesn’t steer athletes away from competitive activities in the off season, however, to reach the levels of these top performing athletes -- dedication, commitment and competitive desire is a necesity.
With a program that historically has had little to no exposure prior to high school, Coach Hubert is encouraged by the Berkeley Heights PAL Wolfpack Track Club that exposes elementary and middle school students to the sport. "I encourage participation," said Hubert. "If they haven't been exposed, then I would encourage our high school athletes to give track a try and you might find out that track and field is quite rewarding."
Below are additional comments:
TAP: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Aguilera: For Indoor -- making it to the Meet of Champions by myself and going to Nationals with the Shuttle Hurdle Relay. Outdoors, my biggest accomplishments are making 1st Team All county for High Hurdles and All Conference team for 400 Hurdles. Qualifying individually for Outdoor Nationals is also one of my biggest accomplishments. My favorite meet was the Meet of Champions this spring where I finished 13th with an okay time.
Almeida: Breaking all the school records in all three throwing events. My favorite meet that stands out the most by far is sectionals for the outdoor season. This being because not only is it the starting qualifiers for the meet of champs, but the throwers really get a chance to bond all together as our last meet together.
Facey: Becoming Group II State Long Jump Champ my junior year in the spring. Not only did I manage to get first, but I also had a big personal record, which I was very proud of. It was definitely a feeling I'll never forget.
Rubenstein: My largest accomplishment was the first time I cleared 14 feet at the Millburn Relays. Not only was it a personal record, but I did it with my whole track team cheering me on next to the runway. I also had a great time competing with Josh Ward (South Plainfield High School, 2016 Meet of Champions Pole Vault winner) . We are both juniors over 14 feet and we always push each other when we compete.
TAP: What advise do you give to future track stars?
Almeida: Just have fun. If your not having fun with throwing then you won't really enjoy what the great feeing of doing your personal best and throwing some personal bests. Some advice I would always need was to have fun because if it got too serious I would over think what I was doing then get mad about how I would end up doing at that one meet. So if you have fun when your throwing then there's no reason for you to ever be upset about how you did. The way I learned this was at my last meet for Meet of Champs. I didn't throw a personal best that day and I can't blame myself for it. I threw 110ft and that's only 12ft feet off from my personal best. Is that how I expected to throw, no of course not. I wanted to hit a personal best but the fact that I was ranked 18th in New Jersey for that throw I had was a great feeling that I could never be upset about.
Facey: When the underclassmen get nervous for a race, I like to tell them that it's such a small portion of their lives. We tend to get so caught up in the race, and we forget to relax and have fun with it. A 400 M race is 60 seconds of your life. The best advice given to me my freshman year, was “Pain is temporary.” I used to get so nervous for my 400 M races, because of the pain of the race. However, I remember someone telling me that the pain is only temporary, and I'll get over it, especially when I walk away with a medal.
2016 Performers Breaking School Records
- 100 M - Andrew Aguilera in 11.17 broke Evan Stuart's 2015 record of 11.54
- 110 M Hurdles - Andrew Aguilera in 15.13 broke Chris Guerrero's 2011 record of 15.53
- 4 X110 Shuttle Hurdles - Andrew Aguilera, Emilio Acevedo, Jon Longo, Doug Ladzinski 64.21 broke 2015 record of 68.38
- Pole Vault - Leah Saifi 12' 8.00 broke Claire Smith's 2011 record clear of 10' 6.00. Saifi's mark was the year's state of NJ highest mark and second highest overall.
- Shot Put 4kg - Michelle Almeida threw 38' 2.00 breaking Stephanie Rosamillia's 2007 record of 33' 9.00
- Discus 1 Kg - Michelle Almeida threw 118' 9.00 breaking her own 2015 record of 115' 6.00
- Javelin - Michelle Almeida threw 106'11 breaking Kayla Laygo's 2015 record of 101' 8.00
- Long Jump - Kenedi Facey 17' 10.50 broke Catroina Quinn's 2010 record of 16' 11.00
- Kenedi Facey also holds the Triple Jump record with a jump of 36'7.25 made in 2014.
- 4 X 100 Relay - Kylie Accardi, Kristen Splaine, Kenedi Facey and Leah Saifi 50.96 broke 2009 record of 51.50
- 4 X 400 Relay - Kylie Accardi, Kristen Splaine, Danielle Petryk and Caroline Peer 4:06.45 broke 2012 record of 4:06.92
- 4 X 800 Relay - Amanda McElroy, Danielle Petryk, Katherine Quinn, Erin Splaine 9:45.74 broke 2015 record of 10:05.23
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 Wine & Whiskey Wednesdays, 1/2 Price Appetizers on Tuesdays 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.