ROXBURY, NJ – Eleven Roxbury High School athletes have qualified to compete in a North Carolina track and field meet that represents “the highest level of competition for high school athletes.” But without some extra money, they might not make the trip.
The June 16 - 18 New Balance Nationals Outdoor event takes place after the regular high school track season is finished, so the high school is not allowed to pay for its students to attend, said Roxbury Girls Indoor Track & Field Team Coach Derek Bischoff.
“So we are trying to reach out to anyone from the community to support these athletes any way they can,” Bischoff said. “It's a great opportunity and experience for these kids to be rewarded for their hard work and dedication. As a coaching staff, we couldn't be more proud of them, what they have accomplished and the type of kids they are.”
An online GoFundMe fundraising page, launched on May 9, seeks to raise $4,500 to pay for the endeavor. As of May 23, it had secured nearly $1,000 in donations.
“Our booster club is able to help a little,” said Lexi Smith, captain of the girls track and field team. “However, our booster club is only one year old, so they can only help us in a limited way.”
Being good enough to compete in the event, which takes place in Greensboro, N.C., is quite an accomplishment, according to Smith and Bischoff.
“This meet is the highest level of competition for high school athletes and is very difficult to qualify for,” Smith said. “This winter, the girls 4x400-meter relay team qualified and ran at the indoor event that was hosted in New York City. It was an incredible honor to represent Roxbury at the most competitive meet in the nation and we are hoping to do so again outdoors.”
The 11 track & field team members who qualified for the outdoor event collectively have secured 11 Roxbury High School records, 15 individual gold medals, 35 relay gold medals and more than 300 overall medals, Smith noted.
“This year is one of the most successful years our girls and boys programs have had,” Bischoff said. “We have three individual Morris County champions and six county relay championships this spring season alone ... they are great students and great kids. They've worked extremely hard to get to this point.”
Bischoff said qualifying for the Outdoor “has been about a year-long process” that began when the girls 4X400 “hit the qualifying time” at the New Jersey Meet of Champions in 2016. “At that point, it was too late for us to go to Nationals,” said the coach. “However it put the idea in their minds.”
The first step was to qualify for the indoor championships. Also qualifying was 400-meter-dash runner Kevin Sembrat.
“That was an awesome experience for them to have,” Bischoff commented. “Afterwards, they immediately started talking about their goals for Outdoor Nationals. Amazingly, we tripled both our individual and relay team qualifiers. This season we are bringing three relays and three individuals to compete. Unlike the Indoor National Championship, this trip will be very expensive. Now with 11 athletes there are added entry fees and increased travel expenses.”
The student-athletes yearning to make the trip to Greensboro are seniors Smith, Kayla-Bedel-Franklin, Victor Arias, Tyshon Bradley and Harley Heun; juniors Jess Cammarata, Karly Forker, Brandon Longtine and Kevin Sembrat and sophomores Bridget Doherty and Jordan Morris.