SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. -- Three members of the Union Catholic girls track and field team gathered with family, friends, coaches and school administrators to sign their National Letters of Intent during a special ceremony in the gymnasium on Wednesday morning.
Distance running star Jerika Lufrano signed her NLI with LaSalle University, Hope Handlin signed to compete at Sacred Heart University, and Evans signed with Northeastern University.
Together, the trio helped lead the Vikings to another undefeated season this winter, highlighted by sweeping the State Non-Public A Championships for the fifth straight year (track and field and relays), and capturing both Union County Championships (track and field and relays).
Lufrano, who lives in Montclair, has established herself as the greatest female distance runner in school history.
She added to her legacy this past Sunday when she ran a school record 4:59.26, which is the fifth fastest time in NJ this season, to win the 1,600 at the prestigious State Meet of Champions.
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Also this winter, Lufrano anchored Union Catholic's distance medley relay to victory at the Eastern States Champions in a Union County record 11:59.38, which is currently the No. 1 time in the country, and she ran a leg on the 4x800 relay that finished first at the Millrose Games in 9:07.44 which is also a Union County record and ranked No. 1 in the nation this season.
During her illustrious career, Lufrano has also captured seven individual county titles, three sectional championships, and two Non-Public A state titles.
"This means so much to me,'' Lufrano said of signing to run at Lasalle. "I'm really excited for college and I'm so happy to be able to move to the next level. Being able to run in college has always been a big goal of mine, so it feels so rewarding to achieve that. And I'm so happy and thankful to share the day with my family and friends, they have always been so supportive of me.''
Handlin emerged as the best pole vaulter in school history and one of the best in the state this indoor season.
She shattered the school record several times this winter, highlighted by a personal best 11 feet, which is tied for the 11th best vault in the state this season.
Handlin won the pole vault at the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships, the Essex County Coaches Invitational, placed second at the State Non-Public A Championships, third at the Metropolitan Invitational, seventh at the Eastern State Championships, and 11th at the Meet of Champions.
"It feels so amazing and rewarding to be going to Sacred Heart,'' said Handlin, who lives in Plainfield. "It's so exciting to have everyone here to support me, my parents, grandparents, family and friends. Track wasn't really even on my mind as freshman and I didn't start vaulting until I was a sophomore, so the fact that this has all happened for me is awesome and mind-blowing.''
Evans, who lives in Piscataway, is one of the top sprinters in school history,
She led of Union Catholic's 4x400 relay at the Meet of Champions this past Sunday that captured an unprecedented 5th straight title, and ran on the 4x400 that ran 3:50.93 at the Millrose Games Trials, the No. 1 time in the state this season and No. 10 in the country.
Over her remarkable career at Union Catholic, Evans has captured three conference championships and two sectional titles, and she ran on the national record setting Swedish Relay, which won the 2017 national title, was a member of the state record 4x200 relay, and ran on the top American 4x400 team at the 2017 Penn Relays, and has run on 2 Meet of Champions winning 4x400 teams.
"It feel like a long journey has finally come to an end,'' said Evans. "It feels good to know that I've found a really good school and that all my hard work has paid off. I'm really excited to be going to Northeastern where they have a great track team and I'll receive a great education. I'm so happy to see everyone here and see how proud they are of me. It feels good.''