On Jan. 12 at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River, Sayreville War Memorial High School continued a modern program tradition.
In the Greater Middlesex Conference Championship, the Bombers won the White Division title in boys’ and girls’ winter track. The Sayreville girls won their fourth straight GMC White Division crown. The Sayreville boys earned their third consecutive division title.
Sayreville did not win the overall GMC championship on either side. But it did finish above the other White Division programs in the boys’ and girls’ competitions.
The Bombers’ boys’ team finished fourth out of 13 teams, while Sayreville’s girls’ squad placed fifth out of 13 schools.
“It was a total team effort,” said Sayreville coach Joe Pastva. “In years past, the girls dominated and the boys have been down to the wire, holding their breath. This year the boys were dominant. We knew about a third of the way through the meet that they were going to win.”
Sayreville’s Tommy Lewis, Alonzo Molina, Zuriel Wright and Abraham Ohiokhai-Benson sparked the boys’ victory.
Lewis placed fourth and sixth in the 800-meter run and the 400-meter dash, respectively. Molina finished sixth in the 800.
Wright came in second in the high jump and Ohiokhai-Benson placed sixth in the shot put.
Wright was out with an injury until a week before the GMC championship. Pastva was not sure if he would be ready in time.
“I said, ‘Are you comfortable jumping right back in? We could use the points but if you’re not ready, that’s fine.’ He said, ‘No, absolutely, I want to go in,'” Pastva said. “He shook the rust off in practice and was second in the county. That was a huge pickup.”
On the girls’ side, Mona Yuan, Miranda Porta, Adijah Simmon and London Martinez led the Bombers to victory.
Yuan has been dependable all season in the 400- and 800-meter events. She was again on Jan. 12, finishing sixth in the 400 and second in the 800, respectively.
Porta has also been reliable all year, in the 55-meter hurdles and in the 55-meter dash. She came through again in the GMC championship, crossing in fourth in the 55-meter hurdles and seventh in the 55-meter dash.
Simmon and Martinez gave the Bombers a lift in the shot put and in the 3200-meter run. They came in third and ninth in those events.
Sayreville’s girls’ team normally has a standout or two who carry the team. This team is more balanced, with different girls contributing in different events.
“On the previous three teams, we had at least one and maybe two Division 1 athletes. There were three to five girls on those teams that had broken school records. A lot of star power,” Pastva said. “This was a lot of people just stepping up and getting points where we needed them.”
Winning the division will likely be Sayreville’s team highlight of the year on both sides. Pastva does not expect his team to win NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 state sectional title.
But he does expect some of the individuals mentioned above to qualify for the Group 4 state championship meet on Feb. 15 and 16, and possibly even the NJSIAA Meet of Champions on Feb. 23 and 24, both in Toms River.
Either way, this season is already a success for Sayreville. The boys’ and girls’ teams upheld their program’s lofty standard.
“The kids push each other. They have great camaraderie and are working hard each day,” Pastva said. “They also wanted to keep the streak alive. No team wants to be the team that breaks the streak.”