Ridgewood extended its Big North Freedom indoor track championships streaks to four boys meets in a row and three straight girls titles Wednesday. But it wasn’t easy.

The boys held off NV/Old Tappan, 104-98, helped by a distance double by senior Aidan Sheridan and a clutch third-place finish by P.J. Sanchez in the triple jump. The girls fell behind early but used a bravura performance by hurdler/jumper Sara VandenAssem and the usual top notch distance domination to hold strong efforts from Northern Highlands and Ramapo, 124-106 1/2-89 at Ocean Breeze in Staten Island.

“Those two wins by Aidan were huge,” said Ridgewood head coach Patrick Ryan. “At the end of cross-country he was struggling and he got his ferritin (iron) levels tested the day the girls ran at the State Meet of Champions (Nov. 23). They were very low and he ended up needing an infusion and still takes iron supplements. He’s been training very well and I knew the league meet races are usually tactical. So we let him run.”

Not only did Sheridan, an all-North Jersey selection in cross-country beat fellow all-North Jersey selection Steven Hatano of NV/Old Tappan in the 1,600 and 3,200 races Wednesday, he ran indoor personal bests of 4:38.12 and 9:57.16 in the process.

Sanchez finished a solid third in the 55 hurdles, but had a rough night in the long jump and had trouble getting on the take-off board in the triple jump. But his good jump was an indoor PR of 41-6 and was enough to give him six points for third and clinch the win. Ridgewood’s other win came in the 4-x-800.

Pat Passalacqua of NV/Old Tappan continued his hot throwing by winning the shot with a toss of 56-6.

As expected, the Ridgewood girls scored 55 of a possible 72 points in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200  with Camryn Wennersten winning the 800 (North Jersey No.1, 2:20.39) and joining with Olivia Shattuck in a 1-2 3,200 finish. The Maroons also went 1-2-3 in the 1,600 led by Sarah Policano and won the 4-x-800.

But VandenAssem’s great day ultimately gave the Maroons a win.

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“She’s been on all year,” said Ryan, after VandenAssem won the hurdles, took second in the long jump and won the triple jump. “She’s always had issues with her quads so this was the first time we let her triple jump all season. And she came through like the champion she is.”

Ellie Veenhof (high jump) was the only other Ridgewood winner.

Northern Highlands’ Grace Smiechowski and Sophia Schwartz of Ramapo also enjoyed outstanding nights. Schwartz anchored the Green Raiders’ 4-x-400 win, took third in the 55 and 400 and second in the 200 while Smiechowski won the 200 and was second in the 400, 55 and 55 hurdles.

Clifton girls, Passaic Tech boys rule Liberty

The Rubio sisters, senior Brianna and junior Jessica, have been part of Clifton’s run atop the league as long as they’ve been on the team. But at Wednesday’s Liberty meet the duo went above and beyond. They combined for two wins and 46 individual points and along with ironman efforts from distance stars Mia Dubac and Andrea Dubbelsthe Mustangs won a fourth straight indoor title.

“Oh my gosh,” said an elated Clifton coach Mike Rogers. “Bri doesn’t shrink from any race, and last night was a perfect example. “She PR’d in the 55 prelims and again in ( third-place finish) the final and then went right from the finish line to the start of the 400, got her hip number from teammate Nicole Wyszynski and proceeded to win the race.”

The 1-2-3 finish in the 400 with Jessica in second and Wyszynski third, all but clinched the meet for the Mustangs in the middle of the meet. But the Rubios kept the heat on. Brianna won the 200 and Jessica took thirds in the high jump and long jump, the latter with a personal best.

Meanwhile the lethal Dubac-Dubbels duo was producing 50 points in the 800-1,600-3,200 events with Dubac winning the two longer events and Dubbels the 800.

“Mia’s on fire right now and it’s hard to hold her back,” said Rogers. “And Drea is one of the smartest people I know, and she knows how to pace herself so that she can run well in all three.”

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Clifton also won both relays, with Brianna Rubio anchoring the 4-x-400.

Tegann Anderson of Passaic Tech doubled the 55 and 55 hurdles.

Passaic Tech’s boys took their ninth title in 10 editions of the meet, 128 1/2-90 over Bergen Tech, earning six victories.

The Bulldogs got wins from Jayden Johnson (shot) and Ian Spoelstra (pole vault) in the field, but did most of their damage on the track. Amair Buffaloe won the 200 and was second in the 55, while Jordan Ricketts and Keshon Holt finished 1-2 in the 400 in North Jersey’s top two times of the winter (50.67-50.79).

The Bulldogs won both the 4-x-400 and 4-x-800 relays, running a North Jersey best 3:27.68 in the 4-x-400, the fastest in at least 20 years in Passaic County and No. 6 in New Jersey this year.

Nick Ortiz of Passaic ran 1:59.29, the first North Jersey 800 runner under two minutes this season, and also won the 1,600. while Kennedy’s Jamier Wright-Collins took over the area’s high jump lead at 6-4 and won the long jump.

Bergen Catholic wins 4th straight United title; IHA breaks PC’s streak

Bergen Catholic won only two events in the United Division: Owen McCarthy in the 800 and Jaden Ebanks in the long jump. But the Crusaders’ depth held off some brilliant individual efforts by Paramus Catholic for a fourth straight divisional title, 107-105.

“It was very tense until the last event,” said BC coach Bill Leonard. “We had a little cushion before the 4-x-400 and high jump and we decided to keep Jaden fresh for the high jump because we thought we might not even win the 4-x-400 even if he ran it.”

The gamble paid off. PC beat the Crusaders in the 4-x-400 but BC finished second. And when Ebanks, who first high jumped in a meet a week earlier, cleared a personal best 5-10, the Crusaders had held off the Paladins.

And there was another, more unsung hero for the Crusaders earlier in the meet. 

“We didn’t know if we would score in the pole vault, because we didn’t know what opening height was,” said Leonard. “It was eight feet and Eamon Bednarcik tied his career best and made it.”

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The six points for second were crucial and Leonard gave his team instructions for when the team bus got back to Oradell. “I told them to carry Eamon off on their shoulders.”

Paramus Catholic’s Jordany Dely was the individual star of the meet, winning the 55 hurdles (7.83), 400 and high jump and teammate Jemel Carter won the 55 and 200 as the Paladins won six events.

Mariah Fede of Paramus Catholic was the individual star of the girls meet and was the only athlete in all six divisions to score a quadruple win, taking the 55 (7.23), 200 (25.12), 400 (59.03) and 55 hurdles (8.48), all Big North meet bests. But her heroics were not enough to give the Paladins a sixth straight girls win.

IHA scored in every event but the 200, scored all three of its athletes in seven of the 14 events and won seven events to outpoint Holy Angels, 95-69 with PC third with 47 points.

“We had a very nice meet and Maddy Novelli had a great effort for us in winning the 1,600 and 3,200 races,” said IHA head coach Matt Joyce. “Our field events were terrific, as we won four out of the five titles.”

Novelli led a 1-2-3 finish in both distance races, running indoor bests of 5:28.29 and 11:36.95, respectively. The Blue Eagles got wins by Nicole Gysin (4-10 high jump), Emma Viggiano (9-0 pole vault), Maegan Feeney (16-7 1/4 long jump) and Christine Ajao (33-2 1/2 shot) and took the 4-x-800 relay.

Holy Angels got great efforts from Eliza Hoover (800 win), Maris Rodriguez (two seconds), Jalen Wynn (two thirds) and Nicole Barbaro (second, third and fourth) and the quartet combined for an easy 4:08.87 win in the 4-x-400 relay. Hanga Antal won the triple jump and took a pair of seconds for the Angels. 

Paul Schwartz covers high school track and field for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.

Email: schwartzp@northjersey.com Twitter: @northnjtrack 



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