Girls’ Track Team Takes Sectional Title


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Coach Sebastian Powell, Coach Gene Leporati, Erin Smythe, Julia Temple, Montana Delcolle, Sydney White, Rebecca Lee, Heather Sweeney, Coach Nick Serpico. Front: Kelsey Attamante, Rebecca Slotkin, Rebecca Conaway, Ashlee Petroski with award (Photo courtesy Meg Slotkin)

Before this weekend’s Group I sectional track meet had even begun, Verona Girls’ Track coach Gene Leporati had a feeling it would come down to the wire–the final event, 1,600-meter relay. After Friday’s events, Verona had a 23-point lead, but as he warned his girls on the bus on Friday evening, that cushion would quickly evaporate the next day, since Whippany Park was stronger in the day-two events.

Sure enough, after the very first event on Saturday, Whippany Park had erased Verona’s lead with a 24-point sweep of first, second and third places in the 100-meter dash.  The rest of the day was a see-saw. As the events wound down, the Verona girls, down two points after failing to place in the long jump, got a big boost from shot-putters Rebecca Lee and Julia Temple, who took first and third with throws of 36-3 and  31-3 1/4, both personal bests. “Rebecca and Julia were throwing bombs,” says Leporati. “Julia’s first throw was 28 and her final throw was over 31. Three feet is incredible in that event.”

As he had predicted, the meet came down to the 1,600-meter relay. Verona was clinging to a razor-slim 2-point lead, but was ranked third in the relay event, behind Whippany Park and Newark Central. Leporati told his runners, Ashlee Petroski, Kelsey Attamante, Rebecca Conaway and Erin Smythe, that they’d have to give it their all. And give they did: The team took first place with a time of 4:12.93, a full 10 seconds off their previous time, with every girl running a personal best. Verona had won the North 2, Group 1 track and field sectionals 138-131.

This marks the eighth sectional championship for the girls since 2001, according to the T-shirts the girls had made up this year that list their numerous championships. So the latest notch in their belts does present a small problem, says Coach Leporati:  “We’ll have to get some new shirts.”

Here are the results from this weekend’s events. The top 6 finishers in each event will participate in the Group 1 Finals this coming Friday and Saturday; the top six finishers in that meet will compete in the Meet of Champion June 6.

400-Meter Run: 2nd place–Ashlee Petroski, Verona, 1:01:46; 5th place–Marybeth Grund, 1:04:03.

800-Meter Run: 6th place–Erin Smythe, Verona, 2:33.73.

1,600-Meter Run: 1st place–Kelly Scully, 5:31-70; 2nd place–Heather Sweeney, 5:32.50.

3,200-Meter Run: 1st place–Kelly Scully, 12:11-88; 2nd place–Heather Sweeney 12:12-46.

100-Meter Hurdles: 1st place–Ashlee Petroski, 15.77

400-Meter Intermediate Hurdles: 1st place–Ashlee Petroski, 1:06.40; 2nd place–Marybeth Grund 1:07.94; Erin Smythe, 1:07.96.

Shot Put: 1st place–Rebecca Lee, 36-3; 3rd place, Julia Temple, 31-3 1/4

Discus: 2nd place–Montana Delcolle: 98-8; 3rd place, Rebecca Lee, 93-11.

Javelin: 3rd place–Rebecca Slotkin, 93-1

Pole Vault: 1st place–Rebecca Slotkin, 11-3, meet record; former record, 10-6, Vonelle Allocca, New Providence, 2002

1,600-Meter Relay: 1st place–Erin Smythe, Rebecca Conaway, Kelsey Attamante, Ashlee Petroski, 4:12.93.

Erin Smythe passing off to Rebecca Conaway in the 4 x 400 relay

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Julia Martin Langan
Julia Martin Langan
Julia Martin Langan moved to Verona in 1989. A long-time journalist, she has been on the staff of Money, Sports Illustrated, Bride’s and Redbook magazines. Her articles on health and parenting appear in a variety of national publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Parents, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Self and Family Circle. She and her husband Greg have three school-aged children, and are members of Our Lady of the Lake Church. You can reach Julia at [email protected].


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