In a week plagued by snow postponements, it was easy to pick the highlights for New Jersey action, both of which took place at the New Balance Games last Saturday at the New York Armory Center.
Anthony LaMastro of Pope John and Danielle Tauro of Southern Ocean both finished second in their races there with performances that gained them a coveted place in the Feb. 4 scholastic miles at Madison Square Garden.
LaMastro was a late entry to the New Balance race, having earned his spot there with a 4:21.26 1600-meter victory six days earlier at the state Group II meet. A junior, Anthony has had a sensational winter, doubling in that state meet and earlier running a couple of 1:56 800-meter relay legs. His time of 4:17.54 is second only in NJ to another Millrose entrant, Bryan Scotland of St. Benedict's.
Tauro has been running consistently at the Armory this winter, but this was her first excursion under 5:00 as she ran exactly 4:54.00 behind Mary Liz McCurdy of Bay Shore. This just about dupilicated her 4:52.79 1600 which earned her the New Jersey all-group title last spring.
Scotland missed the New Balance race because he was expecting to run the next day at the Essex County Relays, which were one of several storm victims that weekend. And, for the same reason, he will not be in the Boston mile this weekend, for the county championship is scheduled for this Sunday, barring another blizzard.
The Essex meets will match St. Benedict's with its ancient rival, Seton Hall Prep, which ran a 10:27.97 for third in a very close distance medley race last Friday at the Yale Invitational. The two will then do it all over again Feb. 6 when the postponed relay meet will finally (and hopefully) take place.
Morris County athletes did double duty this past week with the postponed relays on Monday at Drew and the championship meet there two days later. Randolph swept the boys honors in both beets, while the girls' titles were divided three ways, Mendham taking the relays and Hanover Park and Roxbury sharing the crown at the title meet.
Jenn Ennis of Roxbury, who had been forced out of the state Gr. III 3200 a week earlier by a sinus infection, snapped back with bravura performances in both meets. In the relays, she anchored a 12:31.98 DMR victory and two days later doubled the 1600 and 3200 in 5:09.91 and a meet record 11:05.14.
Sharing individual honors with her at the title meet was Alaina Alfano of Hanover Park who won the 55H with a meet record 8.57, took the HJ at 5-4 and finished second in the 300M in 41.60.
Marcel Van Eeden of Mendham, who has been the individual boys' star of the Drew season, finished up with a 1:57.9 800 leg on the 3200M team at the relays and a meet record 1:22.81 600M at the championship meet. He was also third in the 300M at 36.75 behind two Gr. III sprint champions, Doug Cloninger of Morristown (55M) and Austin Casey of Parsippany Hills (200M).
Geoiff McGrane and Nick Syzonenko provided the impetus for Randolph in both victories. They combined for 38 points in the championship meet and took part in five victories between them at the relays.
The Bergen County Relays wound up the pre-weekend activity with Ridgewood taking both large school titles and Saddle Brook (boys) and River Dell (girls) splitting the small school honors. Anthony Pomo of Saddle Brook was the individual boys' star with a leadoff leg that delivered a shuttle hurdle victory, a 22.6 leg on a scond-place 800 team and indoor PRs of 22-4 3/4 and 43-1 to head wins in the LJR and TJR. Lisa Sinkovitz of Immaculate Heart Academy earned the outstanding performer award for girls with winning anchors of 5:14 in the DMR (12:51.1) and 2:20 in the 3200R (9:48.6).
South Jersey lost its final running meet of a short season to the blizzard, but held its vertical jump championships on Wednesday at the HIP Center in Mt. Laurel where Jessica Kloss of Moorestown cleared 12-0 to win the girls' PV and Josh Butler of Delsea topped 6-6 to take the boys' HJ.
A footnote: We were told by head clerk Bob Byrnes that he has had some interesting assistants in his lengthy chores at the Drew meets this winter. In addition to starring on the track, Jenn Ennis and Roxbury teammate Kris Stevens---members of the state championship CC team which ran in the top 10 at the first Nationals this past fall--have joined two other prominent Morris County runners this winter in acting as volunteer assistant clerks, handing out the cards which allow the starting position to entrants in the various races. "They also bring us brownies and other goodies," Bob added.