HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ – After losing several outstanding seniors at the end of the 2016 season, there was the belief that the Hasbrouck Heights girls' track team would be entering a rebuilding year in 2017. Those who thought that were in for rude awakening.
Rebuilding? No. Re-loading. Definitely.
After all, rebuilding teams do not win their league championship for the 22nd straight season, and extend their undefeated mark in league in dual meets, do they? Nor do they get named by the Bergen County Track Coaches as the “Team of the Year” at the end of the season. But they did.
Rebuilding teams don’t win the Bergen County Group C championship, and follow that up with a North 1, Group 1 sectional title. Rebuilding teams don’t end their season by going down to State Group finals and coming in second. Rebuilding teams don’t get to go to those meets.
Yet, the Hasbrouck Heights Girls' High School Track team did all that.
"Because of all the girls we lost (to graduation), people expected us to go through a rebuilding year, " Hasbrouck Heights Head Coach Rob Brady stated. "Because those older kids were so good, none of the younger kids, who were vere very good, had been able to crack the lineup a year ago. This year, when they got a chance to crack the lineup, they made the most out of it.
"Coming into the season, it was the first time in 20 years we were not ranked in the top 20 in North Jersey, and we used that as a rallying cry this year."
When asked about the key to the team’s success, Brady spread praise throughout the team.
“The great thing about it was, that like a true team, there were a lot of kids who played integral roles," Brady said.
He noted that the girls came ready to practice and worked hard, every day. He praised seniors Ashley Quinn and Sydney Montalvo for showing the younger girls the importance of hard work and that every meet was important. That showing them that hard work pays off in improved.
“The great thing about track is there are no favorites, your time is your time.” Brady said.
He did note two girls stepped up big and scored big at big meets, he pointed to a pair of juniors, Kassie Ketchco, and Monika Lucic.
Ketchco, who competed in all three throws, picked up a first in the shot put and a second in the discus and javelin during the North 1 Group 1 Sectional meet. She managed to finish in the top 10 in all three events at the Meet of Champions. She also came in first at the Bergen County meet in the shot put.
“When you can win an event in Bergen County, which is one of the most competitive counties in the state, you are pretty good. “
Lucic was used in several events this year, from hurdles to jumps to the running in relays, much to Heights advantage.
“We used her at several different events throughout the year. “ Brady stated. “We moved her around like a queen on a chessboard trying to match her up against other schools' good kids. She is extremely versatile.”
The two also helped Heights continue their dominance by being strong in two of the events that Brady feels are key.
“My philosophy in track is that hurdles and field events in track win championships, because not everybody can do them.” Brady stated. “If you can teach your kids to hurdle, if you can teach your kids to throw, because they are technical events, you are going to be successful. If you throw a fast kid on the track, they will be fast. A distance runner if they train hard, they are going to get better.
“A kid can have a great arm, but if they are not taught how to throw the javelin, they are not going to throw it far. A kid can be great jumper, able to dunk a basketball, but if they are not taught to high jump, then they won’t be able to high jump well.
Brady praised his assistants for their work.
“I have a great staff of coaches who deserve credit for the work they do,” Brady said. “Mike Ryan, Vinnie Marchese, John D’Amato (High Jump) , Thomas Hughes (Jumps), and Kaitlin Gianni and Jessica Sarrubi all do tremendous work.
“John Valenti, I feel is one of the top throws coaches in the state.” Brady continued. “He came through Hasbrouck Heights, and has been here since we started.”
But it is the student-athletes gave credit to the most.
“We have 128 kids in the track program (68 girls/60 boys),” Brady noted. “Those are numbers that Group 3 and Group 4 schools, get. It is a tribute to Hasbrouck Heights that these kids come out. Everyone in Heights plays a sport. We have these numbers, football has them, baseball, basketball. Something like 68 percent of the students going through the school are involved in a sport."