The jumps are the thing this spring in Somerset County girls track. That’s where three of the state’s best will set up shop.
The list begins with Hannah Taylor of Montgomery, who has been one of the favorites in the event since she entered high school. Just this past winter Taylor showed what she is capable of by finishing in third atthe Meet of Champions in 5-4.
Taylor has already completed a vast number of objectives during her high school career. This list includes winning the Somerset County high jump title last spring and this past winter.
During the 2014 outdoor season, Taylor jumped 5-8 twice, which helped her claim the Central Group IV and the Group IV titles. Taylor tied the fifth best performance in the nation by jumping a 5-8.
Franklin’s Selena Thorne has soared to similar heights, and she’ll be a center of attention for the always-tough Warriors this spring. Now a junior, Thorne has experience, which should play a significant role in her junior outdoor campaign.
“I feel like I know more things about the sport now,” Thorne said. “The experience definitely helps me and is an advantage going into the season.”
Thorne closely followed Taylor at the MoC in the high jump, completing the event in fourth place (5-4). Thorne was constantly in the top five during the winter season, which is something the junior feels she can build on heading outdoors.
“It pushes me to a high level,” Thorne said about her success indoors. “Outdoors is definitely is bigger for me so it makes me want to go harder during the spring. I’m definitely looking forward to the outdoor season.”
Jessica Creedon of Ridge, who is the youngest of the group, just a sophomore, displays the maturity of an upperclassman. Creedon concluded the winter MoC with a fifth place finish, but the sophomore admits she can do better. To her credit, she was battling a sickness when the MoC rolled around, which restricted her from showcasing her full potential.
“I’m satisfied with where I’m at, but I’m definitely hungry to do better,” Creedon said. “ I didn’t necessarily meet my exact goals this past season, I wanted to get a 5-6, but I ended up getting a stomach virus. I set high expectations for myself and I’m excited to see how I do during the spring season.”
Creedon received a quick flash of reality as a freshman. With Taylor and Thorne on opposing teams, Creedon did not have the opportunity to ease into high school. Instead, she had to go against the best right away.
“It was exciting,” Creedon said about her rookie campaign. “It was definitely interesting because of the new experiences. It was awesome to meet all of the new competitors and experiencing all of the new events.”
Creedon is also a crucial part of the Ridge volleyball team, and believes volleyball season translates to success during the track season.
“Volleyball helped me improve my vertical because we do strengthening for legs,” Creedon said. “It keeps me moving during the fall season. Volleyball is a fun sport to compete in.”
There’s a mutual respect between the three girls. Taylor, Thorne and Creedon know the focus is on them every time they compete in an event. Although the girls are now friends, there is a certain level of business at these meets, which is why they continue to work towards becoming the best in Somerset County and possibly the state.
“We are all good friends and we talk at the meets,” Taylor said. “Once the bar goes up we all know that it gets serious.”
Five athletes to watch
Sydney McLaughlin, Union Catholic: What’s there not to like about McLaughlin? She is one of the best schoolgirl track athletes in the country. After storming onto the scene during her sophomore year, McLaughlin won the indoor Meet of Champions in the 400 (53.72) and 55 hurdles (’7.82). She’s even better in the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles.
Jacqueline Berardo, Hunterdon Central: Berardo made vast improvements during her junior year when she place in fifth at the Meet of Champions in the 800 (2:10). This winter was the same story, as she once again placed in fifth at the MoC in 2:15.
Eva Glasergreen, North Hunterdon: Last spring Glasergreen placed in fourth in the 1600 of the Group IV meet (4:55.96) and won the 3200 (10:26.56). The senior took seocnd in the indoor MOC 3200.
Kelsey Vieira (Hillsborough): The best triple jumper returning in the area. She won the Skyland Conference triple jump (36-11.5) and long jump (17-8). She also placed fourth in the triple in Central Group IV and eighth in Group IV.
Ashley Berry (Franklin): Now a senior, she won the Group IV and set a Somerset County record in the discus (135-7) last year before finishing fifth in the event at the Meet of Champions. Also an accompished shot-putter.
Five teams to watch
Hillsborough: The Raiders have a ton of experience, balance and depth as usual. Casey Kelly, Daija King, Olivia Mukendi and Lauren Smith form a fine nucleus. Thrower Priscilla Senoo is a proven veteran as well.
Franklin: You’d be hard-pressed to find two better jumpers than Selena Thorne and Irina Ewing. Junior Morgan Dey is accomplished in the sprints. The Warriors are always a factor.
Union Catholic: Sprinter Jordan Coverson would be the star on any other team. Seniors Alana Herran and Caitlin Glynn are good runners, too. The Vikings’ 4×400 won the indoor state title in 3:50.
Hunterdon Central: Kathleen Jaeger is an elite 800 runner in her own right, having placed second in the indoor MOC in 2:13. Pole vaulters Madison Heft and Sabrina Anderson helped the Red Devils win Central Group IV indoors.
Ridge: Senior standouts Abby Regner, Liz Newman and Kelly Van Baalen return for once last go-around in the distances. They led Ridge to the North 2 Group IV title indoors.