SOUTH PLAINFIELD – The Union Catholic boys track team is a long-established state power. On Saturday, the Vikings girls officially joined them. As the boys captured their third straight Non-Public A title, edging rival Christian Brothers Academy, the girls captured their first in runaway fashion.
It was picture perfect for coach Mike McCabe and the rest of his program. The girls had a comfortable lead heading into day two, but they placed their stamp on the final half of the events. The girls squad picked up their first Non-Public A group title in school history on Saturday at South Plainfield High School.
As one Union Catholic team is quickly building a state reputation, another continued their success. The boys team held off the Monmouth power CBA to win the their third consecutive team title. This one was rewarding because it was one of their closest battles against CBA over the past four years. The rivalry is now in place and is here to stay.
“The girls have been so strong,” McCabe said. “The boys are so good, but we knew it would be a battle with CBA. I’m so happy we were able to pull this one off because the boys lost a lot of good guys last year. To pull both off, I’ll be able to sleep this weekend.”
Taylor McLaughlin had a historic weekend. After picking up two victories in the 400 hurdles and 100-meter dash on Friday, the senior was able to close out his meet to remember by winning the 110-meter hurdles and 200 meter dash. McLaughlin became just the fifth athlete from New Jersey to ever win four events in group play.
“It feels really good,” McLaughlin said. “I just wanted to complete the 200 without feeling tight in my leg. I was able to run the whole thing and not feel pain.”
First time all season he felt like that.
“He’s one of the greatest runners to come through New Jersey ever,” McCabe said. “The way he did it is just amazing. It’s a testiment to him and his toughness. It also shows how much of a team guy he is. He knew if he didn’t do it we probably wouldn’t of won the meet.”
Sydney McLaughlin, the other-half of the talented siblings, completed her hat trick for the weekend by winning the 200. She ran a time of 24:08 to hold off Monica Heil of Saint John Vianney. Even without running what is believed to be her best event in the 110-meter hurdles, McLaughlin was still able to give her team a boost in three different events.
“It’s amazing because one of her best events is the 100 hurdles and she didn’t run them,” McCabe said. “It’s just amazing what she can do. The concentration and the focus and the ability to put it together when it matters is just huge.”
The McLaughlin’s are the centerpiece of the Union Catholic program, but every athlete is important once the major meets come around on the schedule. The boys were able to get a push from Perry Christie and Brian Sagendorf. Christie came in first place during the previous day in the triple jump. He also placed second in the high jump and was apart of the 4×400 assembly that ran their way to the Meet of Champions.
“Today was to show everybody that we can still run under 3:20 without Taylor,” Christie said. “We are going to do something amazing with Taylor.”
Sagendorf threw a school in the javelin with a final result of 196-01. He also came in second in the pole vault. Considering Sagendorf’s size, only standing at 5’7 in height, he was impressed with his performance
“It’s all about form and speed at the end. It all came together during that throw,” Sagendorf said. “I’m proud of myself. With the great rivalry with CBA and Union Catholic, it’s awesome.”
Tia Livingston, Chandi Piiru and Alana Harrington helped the Vikings claim the main prize. Livingston took home a gold medal with a time of 14.46 in the 100-meter hurdles. She has been holding down the fort with McLaughlin not running in the event. Chandi Piiru won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:11.35. Alana Harrington had a big weekend with second place finishes in in the 400 hurdles, 200 dash and long jump.
“We practice really hard,” Livingston said. “My coach is encouraging, especially his words. I think everyone just wants to do well indiviudally too. As a team we are really strong.”
The sweep is finished for Union Catholic. The Vikings can go home happy. The boys continue their dynasty in track and field. The girls are now emerging to the top of the elite forces in girls track for New Jersey.
Steven Macri can be reached at smacri@gannettNJ.com