Pope John boys, girls both win NJAC titles

Pope John boys, girls both win NJAC titles


Pope John boys, girls both win NJAC titles



Jordan Pacheco looked up the Morris County pole vault record two years ago. Though Pacheco was only a Morris Hills sophomore at the time, he decided he was going to break it before he graduated.

Pacheco finally reached his goal on Wednesday afternoon, and then even higher. After clearing 15 feet, eight inches on his second attempt to erase a county record three years older than he is, Pacheco continued on to “a bonus” 16-1.

He also made that height on his second attempt, faltering only at 16-5. Pacheco now has the top pole vault in New Jersey this spring.

“I’m ecstatic right now,” said Pacheco, who was cheered on by an ever-growing crowd. “At Morris County Relays, it didn’t go well. I came in today with a better mindset. I told myself I had to get the county record today. 16-1 was a bonus. 15-8 was the number in my head all day.”

Pope John earned its own big numbers and the NJAC Large School titles. The Lions boys totaled 101 points to edge Mendham and the girls crushed the field with 139 points.

Junior Dina Naphor of Flanders won the 100 meters and 100 hurdles as the Pope John girls placed at least one athlete in the top six in all but three of the 16 events, with multiple medalists in nine of them. Senior Raul Green won three gold medals and senior Chris Hatler picked up two more as the Lions boys medaled in 11 events.

“Mother Nature gave us a good day to run. That makes everything great,” said Green, a Jefferson resident who broke the meet records in the 100 and 200 meters, won the triple jump, and was sixth in the long jump over the two-day meet.

“(My events) complement each other. I’m nice and warm from the jumps, so I can run the 200. They’re not one after the other, so I can focus.”

Junior Keturah Orji won the long and triple jumps, as well as the 200 meters, as Mount Olive finished second overall.

Randolph senior Aaron Harris broke the meet record in the javelin (175-11). Montville freshman Leah Wis was more than 15 feet ahead of the discus field with a school-record 123-8.

Parsippany Hills senior Megan Crowley was one of five competitors to clear five feet in the high jump, winning the NJAC title based on misses.

Junior Justin Naselli of Mendham turned in a 59-second final lap, including a scorching 200-meter kick, to post a huge personal best and meet record of 9:26 in the 3,200 meters. The Minutemen, who had gone undefeated in invitationals this spring, had to settle for second on Wednesday. They also won the 4×400. Mendham junior Mackenzie Barry also came from behind to win the 3,200 meters.

“I looked pretty ugly that last 200,” said Naselli, who hasn’t run the 3,200 since freshman year. “I was just dying, giving it all I had.”


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