The lights were on in Livingston at 9 p.m. when the girls sprint medley teams stepped onto the track at the Essex County Relays. The brilliant racing that followed was all the work of four Verona High School girls.
The race featured three heats of six teams with Verona given heat three, which was the seeded fastest heat with Montclair, West Orange, Mount Saint Dominic, Caldwell and West Essex.
VHS senior Olivia Fiore started the race running 200 meters and getting the baton to sophomore Chelsea Gruskin, who maintained Verona’s position in a very tight group of four teams. Then junior Alex DeVivo took the baton, running a fabulous 400m to help separate Verona from some of the pack. Finally, it was time for junior Kate Ashley to deliver a blistering 800m: She separated from the field in her last 150 meters, finishing first and setting a new school record of 4:18.9.
The previous Verona record was 4:20.7, set in 2009 by the team of Corrinne Tucci, Ashlee Petroski, Stevie Fego and Claire Lawrence. Both Fego and Lawrence are now high school track coaches.
Coach Gene Leporati was full of praise for the record-breakers. “I’m so proud of each girl who did exactly what had to be done to win in a very competitive field of superb and determined athletes.”