The Union Catholic High School boys track and field team looked poised to claim the NJSIAA Non-Public A title last year, but were outlasted by Christian Brothers.
This year, the Vikings had a tremendous opportunity right from the start with the top two seeds in the 400 hurdles in sophomore Taylor McLaughlin and senior Zach Ghizzone.
McLaughlin, a Dunellen native, led the field and sparked a 1-3-4 finish for Union Catholic, claiming a whopping 20 points to that of CBA’s eight right from the event’s onset at the 95th NJSIAA Track and Field Championships Friday at Frank Jost Field.
“I would categorize this run as great,” McLaughlin said. “I impressed myself today. I think I ran the 400 hurdles well.”
McLaughlin crossed the tape in 53.26, .37 seconds ahead of CBA’s Zack McDermott.
Vikings’ Obafemi Animashaun clocked in third at 53.89 and Ghizzone took fourth in a time of 54.08.
Despite the terrific finish, it was mixed emotions from the Vikings camp.
“We wanted to get at least get a second-place finisher in there,” said McLaughlin, “but you can’t complain. We’re happy with the points that we got.”
McLaughlin explained his squad’s performance was a bit of redemption after dropping last year’s event by an 11-10 count.
“Watching them beat you and for you to be able to beat them the next year is a great feeling,” said McLaughlin.
Union Catholic coach Mike McCabe was pleased overall with his team’s finish.
“We were happy,” McCabe said. “The times were terrific, and we couldn’t ask for more. Every guy ran his PR in the race for us, so we’re really happy with the start.”
McCabe also explained the type of confidence booster the performance can be for his guys.
“I think at a minimum it keeps them at an even keel, which is sort of what they are,” he said. “We talk about what we want to do and then they go do it. When we get too juiced up sometimes it backfires with this group. These guys stayed loose and ran a nice race. Last year they were tight.”
McLaughlin took home another gold medal in the 400 dash in a time of 47.91, outdistancing teammate Jordan Jimerson (48.09).
Christoffe Scott was another Union Catholic performer to claim a gold medal.
Scott, the Vikings triple jumper and defending champion in the event, put forth a jump of 43-00 that was good enough to edge Josh Taylor of St. John Vianney (42-11).
“I expected to come in and win,” said Scott. “I actually could have taken off a little farther because every jump was two feet beyond the board. I was satisfied with the victory, and we’re fairing pretty well as a team heading into tomorrow. Forty-three feet is a winning jump, and a win is a win.”
Union Catholic claimed more gold in the discus throw with Sean Brennan heaving the disc 168-03, more than 17 feet ahead of the second-place finisher.
Union Catholic looks poised to claim the Non Public A title today with a 72.50 to 30 lead in team points over CBA after the nine events contested Friday night.
In other local action, Sam Renfreee of Scotch-Plains-Fanwood took home the gold in the girls javelin. She threw 132-0, outdistancing Nicolette Burns of Kingsway.
In the girls 4×800 relay, Bernards’ quartet of Zoe Wojtech, Katherine Gunson, Sydney Rudin and Laura Quintana broke the tape first for the gold medal in a time of 9:30.54.