West Milford track team sending athletes to Nationals
Seven Highlanders earned place to compete in North Carolina this month
By Kalleen Rose Ozanic
West Milford — The Junior Highlanders Track Team, ending its first season of competition, is sending seven athletes to the National Junior Olympics in North Carolina this month.
The athletes medaled in the regional meet and earned their place at the next level of competition.
“This program was a major success," said coach Brian Leslie. "We started as individuals and we finished this season as a family. The kids made friends with others of all ages on and off the team.
"Now that we understand the USATF [USA Track and Field] track schedule and competition, we will move kids into events that will allow them to have more success down the road," he said. "We are so proud of our athletes and coaches and look forward to Nationals and next season.”
Joey Nigro, with a throw of 113 feet, 6 inches, stole a first place win in javelin and is ranked 24th in the high jump, though he will not be competing in the latter event.
He is going to Nationals ranked as the number three javelin thrower.
Currently, ranked 30th in shotput, Daniel Moretti claimed a fourth place win at the regional meet, throwing 21 feet, 2 inches.
Though he will not be competing at the next level, Nick Carbone won second place in high jump with a jump of 4 feet, 3 inches, claiming a tied rank for fifth going into Nationals.
The boys’ 4 x 100 team, comprised of Bryce Leslie, Ryan Escolano, Raajay Sammy, and Jonathan Andrade, captured a fifth place finish with a time of 1:16, and are ranked 13th among all teams going to Nationals.
Coach Leslie has high hopes for the relay team, saying, “we will be focusing on cleaning up our hand-offs and overall speed. If we want to make a mark we need to drop at least six seconds and we know that can happen.”
Otherwise, the athletes will be fine-tuning and cleaning up their execution in their respective events to ensure success.
Leslie encourages parents and athletes to take part in track and field, because “the sport has multiple events for every type of kid. Our coaches are some of the best. "All coaches have had success with track in high school and/or college. All coaches are certified USATF certified as well.”
The National Junior Olympics will be held at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina, on July 23-29.