PLAINFIELD, NJ - On May 15th and 16th, the Highlander girls and boys track and field teams participated in the Union County Championships held at the Hub Stine Field in Plainfield. With a highly competitive field of athletes in events across the board, the meet produced some top performances in the state, if not the country.  Many of the Union County athletes are accomplished athletes who travel across the country to famed venues to race the best in the nation.  On Wednesday and Thursday, spectators were treated to national level performances in Plainfield, NJ.  Finishing top six to score team points was no easy task. For GL, senior Nicole Massa placed sixth in the javelin with a toss of 100-04; sophomore Sophie Cresitello placed fifth in the 800 with a time of 2:21.91; and, junior Victoria Vanriele won the 400 with a time of 54.33 and the 800 with a time of 2:06.68.

Click here for complete photo gallery. Photo credits: John Haddad

For Vanriele, the county championship was a major meet on her racing itinerary.  Since last fall, she and the current 400 meter title holder of both the indoor and outdoor Meet of Champions (senior Kiara Brown of Kent Place) had been gearing up for this once-a-year friendly match up, as Vanriele does not run this event at the MOC. This race had the potential to yield the elusive sub 55 that Victoria was trying to achieve in an open event and that Kiara had already obtained but was looking to lower with stiff competition.  Both athletes were working on power and speed, as evidenced by each running the 200 dash last week in separate county conferences.  Also, Victoria dropped her personal best time in the 400 last week to 55.20 and was primed.  

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At the gun, both girls used their power and speed to make up the stagger on the three athletes placed in front of them. Coming down the home stretch, Victoria and Kiara were side by side.  With the endurance of an 800 meter state champion and the will of a high school junior needing to make a strong statement, Victoria maintained form to finish first with a personal best now in the low 54's.

The 800 race was no less competitive, with Victoria being challenged by the junior from Union Catholic, Leena Morant, a seasoned competitor who anchored her relay team to a national championship title.  Both athletes were highly motivated to use the opportunity to produce nationally ranked times.  In the end, the 2:06.68 ran by Victoria is currently one of only three sub 2:07 obtained by an American high school girl this season, with the fastest time being 2:06.01.  

Next the Highlander girls and boys track and field teams will travel to Jackson Liberty High School on May 24th and 25th for the NJSIAA Central Group 2 Sectional Championships.