Members of the championship boys' winter track and field from Central High School received a hero's welcome on Monday evening, as district officials took time to recognize their recent win at the NJSIAA Indoor Relay Group 3 Championships.
During the Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education meeting on Feb. 13, the Bulldogs high school squad were honored for achieving a three-way tie for first place with Mendham and Nottingham in Toms River on Jan. 20.
“It is part of the dream of the board of education, and certainly a vision of mine, to create well-balanced and well-rounded students,” Superintendent Thomas Smith said. “I think we do a fine job academically, and I think tonight is a testament that we also support our students, helping them grow not only in the classroom, but on the track, on the wrestling mat and anywhere else in between.”
During the meet, Hopewell Valley also took second place in the distance medley and sprint medley relays, and third place in the 4x800 meter relay.
The quartet of 4x800 runners – Tim Dolan, Sean Dolan, Teddy Meredit and Will Titus – recently raced again at the Millrose Games on Feb. 11. With a swift time of 7:52.76 at the prestigious New York City track and field event, the boys not only broke their own school record by 4.93 seconds, but was the second-best current indoor time for a U.S. or New Jersey boys' high school team.
The current 4x800 indoor time in the nation and the Garden State was run at the very same Millrose Games by St. Benedict's Prep of Newark, which edged out Hopewell Valley in the finals by just five one-hundreds of a second.
“This the first relay championship for the boys in school history. That's pretty impressive,” Tripp Becker, Hopewell Valley school district's athletic director, said during the meeting.
This year's success, Becker said, can be attributed to coaches Clarence Bailey, Mike Musso, Jackie Chester, Aaron Oldfield and Dan Johnson, as well as the 35-plus members of the boys' team. Each young man was introduced by name to the school board and received a commemorative plaque.
Speaking to the families of team members in attendance, Dr. Smith said he hoped that they were "very proud also, because we do try hard to support our students in any endeavor they undertake.”
“Thank you coaches for your work, and thank you athletes for all of your hard work. We really appreciate it,” Dr. Smith said. “Your accomplishments become the district accomplishments. Thank you for everything you've done to enrich the school environment.”
The superintendent also acknowledged school board member Roy Dollard, who “has a special affinity for track and field.”
“Mr. Dollard was a contender for the Helsinki Olympics (in 1952) as a quarter-miler, so your accomplishments are near and dear to Mr. Dollard's heart,” the superintendent said to the team members.
School board President Lisa Wolff echoed the superintendent's sentiments, stating that she and the board were appreciative of their accomplishments.
“Now, we will let you get back home to your homework,” she quipped.
The student athletes of the Hopewell Valley Central High School boys' winter track and field team are as follows:
Seniors: Drew Bennison, Derek Deana-Roga, Robert Donaldson, Brendan Kohn, Sam Margulis, Robert Niederer, John Ottinger, Daniel Persichilli, Allessandro Stillitano and Matthew Watterson.
Juniors: Jeremey Borges, Elliott Brown, Justin Brownstein, Jared Burnett, Owen Burnett, Christopher Cantwell, Timothy Dolan, Edward Meredith, Jorie Mickens, Michael Pavicic, Suyash Rane, Pablo Tejerina, Jack Tunkel, Mark Van Selous and Spencer Woods.
Sophomores: Dylan DeJean, Sean Dolan, Alexander Dumont, John O'Connor, Christopher Titus and William Titus.
Freshman: Gunnar Clingman, Gabriel Lefebvre, Skander Leroux, Ryan Mason, Riley Murphy and Ayman Rahman.