The biggest meets of the season are still down the road for the Hopewell Valley Central High track and field program.
But the Bulldogs have been laying the foundation to future success with some solid performances leading up to the championship season.
The Hopewell Valley girls finished third and the boys were eighth at last weekend’s Mercer County Relays, which were held at West Windsor-Plainsboro High North.
The Hopewell Valley girls recorded 55.33 points and trailed only the host school, West Windsor-Plainsboro (102 points), and Princeton (61.50 points) in the team standings. The boys finished with 47 points, while Hamilton West won the meet with 73 points.
“We were very pleasantly surprised,” Hopewell Valley girls’ coach Aaron Oldfield said of the relays performance. “We had a nice balance across the board, with freshmen through seniors contributing. We have a couple girls hurt right now that are getting close to coming back contributing to the team. As a group, the coaches have been happy with everyone’s training and the way they have performed.”
The Hopewell Valley girls registered four second-place finishes. In the 3x400 intermediate hurdles relay, Ava Tillman, Elizabeth Ottinger and Milan Couillens finished second. Tillman and Couillens joined Kate Jackson and Sofia Venezia to place second in the 4x800 relay. In the pole vault relay, Anica Pinto and Ottinger ended in second, while Molly Martin and Madeleine Castadot were second in the high jump relay.
“Ava Tillman was hurt most of the winter and she is back and has done a nice job on the track and also by helping to bring the younger girls along,” Oldfield said. “We have a freshman, Milan Couillens, and (Tillman) has taken her under her wing so to speak and done tremendous job.”
The Bulldogs also had third-place finishes in the shuttle hurdles (Ottinger, Pinto, Sophia Orem and Elizabeth Sonzogni) and distance medley (Mia Vaughn, Sofia Venezia, Jackson and Ottinger).
On the boys’ side, the sprint medley team of Sean Dolan, John O’Connor, Will Titus and Kevin Murray placed first, while Hopewell Valley also won the shot put relay with Jack Muoio and Chukwuka Obidike. The Bulldogs also finished third in the 4x1600 with Sam Fowler, Gavin Fowler, Cormac Dow and Titus.
“We have the Penn Relays this weekend,” Oldfield said about the prestigious meet that is held annually in Philadelphia. “Sometimes it is peaks and valleys with the season. We have a couple more weeks of quality training to get ready for counties, sectionals and states and then possibly the Meet of Champions.”
Hopewell Valley competed in the Ed Poreda Invitational at Lawrenceville on April 13, where O’Connor won the boys mile in 4:25.89 and Titus won the 3,200 meters in 10:03.84. Andrew Carsky-Wilson finished third in the 110-meter hurdles and was fourth in the 400 intermediate hurdles. Obidyke was second in the discus and second in the shot put. Muoio was third in the shot put. The boys also won the 4x400 relay. For the girls, Lilian Wurtz won the javelin, Ottinger was second in the pole vault and Tillman was third in the 400 hurdles. The Bulldogs also won the 4x400 relay.
The Hopewell Valley girls ended the Colonial Valley Conference dual meet season with a 5-1 record, while the boys were 2-4. Both teams have their sights set on big finishes to the season.
“Sean Dolan is the returning national champ in the mile,” Oldfield said. “He’s coming off a little injury in the winter so he didn’t run at nationals indoors. He will conclude this season in Seattle in a meet in June the week after Meet of Champs. So he has a lot of time still in his season.
“Anica Pinto broke the school record in the pole vault and hopefully she can break her own record this spring . Ava in the intermediate hurdles has been running very well. And our 4x4 for both the boys and girls are starting to come along. It should be an interesting second half of the season.”