Winter Track: Dayton Trackers Turn Adversity into Opportunity at Union County Championships

Credits: Mae Kellert
Credits: Mae Kellert

JERSEY CITY, NJ – Jonathan Dayton winter track participated in the Union County Championships Saturday at the Jersey City Armory. 

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, a couple kids come down with the flu this week and a couple others stayed home as a precaution.  As a result, Dayton did not have its full varsity roster. 

Coach Matt VanDuersen saw a lot of positives and said, “We still had many performances of which the coaches and I are very proud.”

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He went to say, “Union County has a number of kids ranked in New Jersey in their respective events.  So, placing well at this meet is very difficult.”  With that perspective the coach said, “Our goals today were to execute race strategy and put us in a good position with seed times for the sectional meet in two weeks.  The overwhelming majority of our kids did both.”

The best performance of the meet was Senior Fabian Mestanza in the 800.  He finished 11th, and just a hair out of the top ten with a season-best 2 minutes 6.4 seconds.  That time puts him in fourth in Central Jersey Group 1 and the top six in the sectional meet qualify for the Group 1 State Championships. It will be in the seeded section in that event.

According to the coach, Freshman Abbey Hochreiner ran “…two great races and hit two personal bests.”  She ran 2:40.3 in the 800 and finished 20th.  In the mile she ran 5:53.5 and finished 15th.  He added, “She continues to race strong and is a great competitor.”

Thinking about the situation, the coach reflected, “One of the things I heard a coach tell another athlete is that one time "You never know when your time will come, so always be ready."  

To that point coach said, “Sophomore Christian Mancini may not have been able to run if it weren't for a couple of kids missing, but took the opportunity to race and earned his spot on our varsity roster.  He did that by taking 18 seconds off of his personal best in the mile today and ran a 5:15.  He then took 17 seconds off of his best two mile time to run 11:15.”

Another person who took advantage of a great opportunity was freshman Emily Kessel.  The Bulldogs had a time trial last Saturday for any kids not competing in the State Relays.  Emily ran a 6:38 in the mile, a tremendous personal best.  Coach VanDuerson and the other coaches decided to give her a chance to run in a varsity meet.  She took advantage of the opportunity and she dropped 20 seconds to run a 6:18.  The coach said, “She has made a tremendous improvement this winter season and works hard every day.  She certainly earned her spot on the varsity roster, and has shown a lot of potential.”

The coach finished with “We're very much looking forward to our sectional championships in two weeks.  It seems like things are setting up nicely for a number of kids to qualify for the Group I State Championships.  Long-term it appears that we're getting some great momentum for the spring season.” is Springfield’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TAPSpringfield.

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