Several Seniors Culminate Athletic Careers at State Group Track and Field Meets

By DAVID BIGGY | Jun 06, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat senior Nico Adorno will anchor the Bengals 4x100-meter relay team in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions on June 9.

Sara Wells just missed going to the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, but she walked away from the discus circle for the last time with a smile. She’s been through a lot the past few years – working hard to get better despite some difficult things – but on June 2 she was able to start looking forward to a new chapter in life at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

“I strained both my quads and coming back from that was hard,” said Wells, who finished her high school career at Barnegat with top throw of 107 feet at the NJSIAA Group II Championships. “And my mom was away from meets for a while because she had several surgeries to treat cancer. That was really hard because she’s part of my coaching team. She’s the one who picks up on a lot of little things to help me, so when she was out I had a tougher time.”

Despite the adversities she’s faced, Wells has been one of the Bengals’ better and more consistent throwers the past few years, during both the winter indoor season and spring outdoor season. In Saturday’s discus preliminary round against the group’s best, she made three successful throws and qualified for the eight-thrower final. She ultimately finished seventh in Group II.

“I’ve done a lot of growing the past four years,” said Wells, one of the senior members who helped shaped Barnegat’s Junior ROTC program. “I’ve taken a lot of little things and worked to make myself better, and I’m happy with how it all turned out.”

Her next step is NJIT, where she plans to major in chemical engineering and continue her track and field career under head coach Al Alfonso.

“I’m so excited to go to NJIT,” she said. “I’m ready to work harder. I really like the idea of putting in the work to get something better out of it, and I’m going to a place where I’ll be surrounded by athletes who are going after the same things and we’re going to get better together.”

Barnegat classmate Kylie Picaro, too, was able to walk away with a smile, after she just missed qualifying for the triple jump finals with a distance of 34 feet to place 15th overall. Picaro is headed to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to study nursing, but her athletic career ended Saturday.

“Overall, I did pretty good the past four years,” Picaro said. “I went to the state championship every year of gymnastics and set a few records for track, so I’m happy with all of it. I was second at the sectional meet, and I was expecting a little better for myself today, but this season’s been great and I can walk away with a smile.”

No doubt the best gymnast to graduate Barnegat High School to date, Picaro only started competing in the triple jump last season, so reaching the group meet after tying her school record of 35 feet, 10 inches a week earlier is a big accomplishment, according to girls coach Rebecca Kane.

“The fact she learned the triple last year and got to the group meet is incredible,” Kane said. “I love watching Kylie jump because it’s so beautiful, and her success has helped a lot of the younger girls. They’ve gained confidence from her, just by following what she’s done. I couldn’t be happier with this season.”

As for Pinelands senior Susie Grelak, she wasn’t too happy with her top triple jump distance of 31 feet, 7¾ inches, but she did acknowledge that her final season with the Wildcats “was fun.” On the other hand, coach Matt Fuller said Grelak and classmate Jackie Peschko – who qualified for the Group II 1,600-meter run but a family emergency the day of her scheduled race forced her to scratch – had awesome seasons and should be proud of what they’ve done.

“Susie had an injury and had to bounce back from it, so for her to get to the group meet as a senior is fantastic,” Fuller said. “And Jackie, too. For them to both qualify for this meet says a lot for their resilience and work ethic. They were two of our highest point-scorers for the season, so they were a huge part of our success.

“By the middle of May, we didn’t have a track anymore because the workers started tearing it up. So spending the last month practicing on the grass, or showing up at 5:30 p.m. to go to Barnegat High School so we could use their track, has been tough. But they battled through it and got to the group meet.”

Two other Barnegat seniors, Nico Adorno and Joe Herod, get to end their careers at the Meet of Champions on June 9. Adorno just missed qualifying for the 200-meter dash but teamed with Dewight Smith-Fernandez, Justin Gomez and Ralph Cruz in the 4x100-meter relay in 43.05 seconds to place third in Group II and earn a spot in the season finale. Herod finished sixth in the triple jump with a hop, skip and jump of 45 feet, 1½ inches.

“We’ve been working all week with our handoffs, and our goal was to win the seeded heat,” Adorno said of the relay crew. “But the ultimate goal was to get to the Meet of Champions, even if we didn’t finish at the top. We just wanted to have another race in the Meet of Champions. Now, we want to go in and at least finish top 10, maybe get to the top five. We’re not done yet.”

Another guy who’s not done yet is Southern senior Joe Miele, who threw the discus 157 feet, 7 inches to place seventh in Group IV, qualifying for one of the Meet of Champions’ wild-card spots with the 16th-best throw in the state.

Also heading to the season finale from Southern will be junior Joe Guglielmo, who placed fifth in Group IV with a javelin throw of 175 feet, 3 inches, and sophomore Karagan Bulger, who also took fifth in the girls’ 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.81.

As for other locals who finished among the top 10 this past weekend, Pinelands’ Liz Makar finished ninth in the girls’ Group II shot put, while Barnegat freshman Jillian Jankowski took seventh in the long jump, and Southern freshman Maria Mezzo managed a 10th-place finish in the girls’ Group IV pole vault.

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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