WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange High School Boys and Girls Track teams competed in this weekend's Group 4, Section 1 Sectionals in Basking Ridge, and Head Track Coach Joe Picataggio had nothing but praise for his kids.
"At this time of the year, the results - who moves on and who doesn't, are bittersweet," Coach "Pic" began.
Several outstanding efforts by team members, including the Boys Team second-place overall finish behind Bergen County champions and track powerhouse Ridgewood, qualified several West Orange High School athletes to advance to this week's Group IV State Championships.
For others, the season has ended, and Picataggio praised his athletes that just fell short of advancing. "For some of our seniors the season and their high school careers are virtually over," Picataggio said.
"Senior athletes like Eshawn Hoffler, who finished 7th in the Pole Vault and High Jump; Malawi Allen, who only a week ago tied the Essex County Meet record and our school record; Yanaton Ghebre and Tommy Johnson, who have run X-Country, Winter and Spring track for 4 years; Attiyya Jenkins and Musatah Matthews, who despite having personal best their high school careers, did not advance."
Johnson qualified to compete in one event, the 4 x 800 Meter Relay. Many of the athletes at the high school participate in more than one sport. Johnson has not only been part of the track team, but was part of this year's WOHS Bowling Team, that clinched the Essex County Championships in February.
Picataggio continued, "In addition to the Boys team second-place finish behind Ridgewood, in the process, we beat Morris County and Passaic County Champions Randolph and Passaic County Tech."
This year's teams, comprised primarily of seniors, had exceptional fall, winter, and spring seasons.
Coach noted, "Leading the way for the Mountaineers was Senior Barden Adams, who accounted for 38 of our team's 77 points. Barden had an incredible weekend. On Friday he finished, by his standards, a disappointing second in the Long Jump. He came back on Saturday to win the Hurdles, High Jump and Triple Jump."
Adams was named to the All State team for High Jump during the Winter track season.
Picataggio lauded the efforts of the boys team. "Also winning this weekend and moving on was our Boys 4 x100 team of Seniors Davon Harper, Robert Kirkland, Jahir Blanton and Jermaine Rivers. On Friday, Jermaine and Jahir finished second and third in the 100 meter dash. Jahir was 4th in the 200 meter dash. Senior Siem Mehretu, who finished 6th in the mile and 4th in th3200 meter run. Senior Sam Amorin, who just came out for the team this year , finished 5th, and will be representing us in the discus. Another senior, Caleb Edgehill, put on a valiant finish and placed 6th in the 800. Finally, our 4 x 800 team of Edgehill, Mehretu, Ghebre and sophomore Joseph Onubogu get to run again by placing 6th."
For Picataggio, his excitement to see members of the Girls Team advance were tempered with some disappointments along the way. Of last week's Essex County Championships winner Malawi Allen, the coach said, "As great as Malawi was a week ago, it was extremely disappointing to see her just have one of those weekends where nothing seemed to go right. Unfortunately, one of the greatest high Jumpers in West Orange High School history will not compete in the Meet of Champions."
In last week's interview with the Alternative Press, Picataggio had mentioned that the Girls Team would be in a "good place" despite the departure of so many seniors. He said, "Senior Aliya Barnes put it all together by winning the 100 meter hurdles and the 200 meter dash and Senior Chidinma Amaefuna was second in the 400 and 5th in the 200 meter dash."
He continued, "Bukola Akinsola, a freshman, also qualified and will compete next week in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. The girls team of Akinsola, Amaefuna, Barnes and junior Mariah Everett won and set a new school record in the 4 x 100. Akinsola also qualified and will compete next week in the 100 and 200 meters dash."
The following is a list of West Orange High School Track Team Athletes advancing to the Group IV State Championships this weekend, and how they placed in the sectionals. The top 6 move on.
Boys Track Team
100 Meter Dash: Jermaine Rivers (2), Jahir Blanton (3)
1600 Meter Run: Siem Mehrutu (6)
4 x 800 Meter Relay: Sixth place, Caleb Edgehill, Siem Mehrutu, Yonatan Ghebe, Joseph Onubogu, Jagger Garguilo, Tommy Johnson, Shneider St. Louis, Jamie Smith
Long Jump: Barden Adams (2)
110 Meter Hurdles: Barden Adams (1)
800 Meter Hurdles: Caleb Edgehill (6)
4 x 100 Meter Relay: First place, Robert Kirkland, Jahir Blanton, Jermaine Rivers, Davon Harper, Barden Adams, McDerby Ceneus, Dael Ceneus, Renaldo Francois
200 Meter Dash: Jahir Blanton (4)
3200 Meter Run: Siem Mehrutu (3)
Triple Jump: Barden Adams (1)
High Jump: Barden Adams (1)
Girls Track Team
400 Meter Hurdles: Aliyah Barnes (6)
400 Meter Dash: Chidinma Amaefuna (2)
100 Meter Hurdles: Aliyah Barnes (1)
4 x 100 Meter Relay: First place, Bukola Akinsola, Chidinma Amaefuna, Aliyah Barnes, Mariah Everett
3200 Meter Run: Susannah Crowell (6)
200 Meter Dash: Aliyah Barnes (1), Bukola Akinsola (2), Chidinma Amaefuna (5)
4 x 400 Meter Relay: Second Place, Bukola Akinsola, Chidinma Amaefuna, Mariah Everett, Adrianna Rowe-McLeash, Aliyah Barnes, Faith Iyizoba