The Bernards High School indoor track program is no stranger to success, and while the girls have become a dominant force, the boys team is starting to ride the wave as well.
Both the boys and girls teams found success on Saturday, sweeping the North 2 Group I sectional championships.
“Both teams performed awesome,” Mountaineers head coach Dave Szostak said. “I think we had 33 season-best performances, and that’s almost every kid running their best time. They really came through when it mattered most for the team and it was great to see.”
The win marked the eighth consecutive title for the girls, a streak that Szostak thinks could be a motivational tool, or something completely different.
“It’s motivating, but it can be a bit scary or even a burden sometimes,” Szostak said. “As a coach, sometimes you feel a bit of pressure, but the kids seem to come through and they want to do well win or lose. That’s all you can ask for.”
Paige Petty led the way for the Mountaineers’ girls, winning the 1600 with a time of 5:22, and setting a new meet record in the 3200 with a time of 11:26. The Mountaineers scored 118 points as a team, nearly double the score of second-place Whippany Park.
As a freshman, Petty wasn’t sure what to expect from the meet. While some may not have known who she was before, Petty certainly made a name for herself. In a meet full of highlights, her record-setting performance in the 3200 was her proudest moment.
“I went into the race not really knowing what to expect,” Petty said. “There was a girl right behind me the whole time, so she really pushed me to run faster. At the end, I didn’t know I got the record, but it’s a great feeling.
Victor Gonzalez was the shining star for the boys team, as they scored 92 points, almost 40 points better than second place finisher Whippany Park.
Gonzalez shook off the pre-meet nerves and was able to take gold medals in the 400, with a time of 52.73, and 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.09.
“We came in confident and went into all of our practices with the mentality to win,” said Gonzalez. “We did everything right to stay in shape and prepare and the day of the meet we performed the way we were supposed to.”
As the girls team continues to have success, the boys look to use that as motivation to continue performing at a high level.
“I think the rest of the team takes it as motivation,” said Gonzalez. “If the girls perform better, then the guys want to as well so we can both come out with the win.”
The Mountaineers did just that, and they can now celebrate as a team as they swept the competition in dominating fashion.
“We had a lot of improvements but we can still get better,” said Petty. “We don’t want to break the streak so we want to improve every year and just get better.”