The Passaic County Winter Track Championships added the triple jump to its schedule this year and the defending champion West Milford boys and Passaic Tech girls took advantage of the new event to help retain their titles Wednesday night at the Armory Track Center.
Passaic Tech went 1-2-3 in the event, led by the North Jersey-leading 36-foot 11-1/4 inch
performance by winner Andrea Herbert as it destroyed the girls field with 97 points, 52 more
than co-runnersup Passaic and Clifton.
West Milford went 1-5-6 with Brian Leslie winning with a leap of 40-3 1/4 to key its 96-80
victory over a surprising Clifton team in the boys field.
"The triple jump was definitely a key point in our win," Passaic Tech coach Sam Jones said.
"This team has not realized its own potential, and may never realize it until they get to
college. But it's the best team I've ever coached."
Soniya Johnson, Yhounic Vassell, and Herbert led PCT to its title, with Johnson winning the
hurdles. Vassell upset Tawana Watkins to win the 55 meters and took second to Watkins in the 300
with a personal best 40.6 and second in the triple jump, and Herbert was third in the 300.
The Bulldogs quartet of Herbert, Kahimah Liverman, Rosalind Cerat, and Vassell set a meet and
Passaic County record of 4:07.0 in the 1,600-meter relay.
"This team is so easy to coach," Jones said. "I've been blessed with the horses because they go
out and do what needs to be done. We have stars and then we have kids like Rosalind Cerat,
Kahimah Liverman, and Ixa Gomez who step forward when they're needed."
West Milford coach Scott Copperman echoed Jones' comments.
"We had our stars, Brian Leslie and Matt Trudell, step up and win their events [they combined
for four victories] and a lot of the kids who finished fifth, sixth, and seventh last year were
eager to show what they could do and stepped up for us as well."
Trudell won the hurdles and 600, nipping Alonzo Meek of Wayne Valley and Felix Henry of Passaic
at the finish line in their respective events. Leslie long-jumped a North Jersey seasonal best
of 21-7 1/2 in addition to winning the triple jump.
Jeff Gunther was second in the pole vault and Shawn Gilroy was third in the 600.
Three other Passaic County meet records fell in addition to Passaic Tech's 1,600-meter relay,
with perhaps the most impressive being Jeff Young's 13-foot clearance in the pole vault.
Young, a junior, hadn't entered a meet all winter and had no height last year in the meet.
Watkins ran 39.3 in the girls 300, the best race in New Jersey this year, and also won the 600
after losing to Vassell in the 55.
Jamaal Richardson threw 54-4 on his last throw to beat Passaic teammate Richard Russell, the
best shot put in North Jersey this year, as both shattered the old record.
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