Bernards girls gearing up for big meets

For the Bernards High School girls track team, Sunday’s performance at the NJSIAA Group I Relays was something of a kick-start to their season.

“We try and pick and choose our moments to go hard and last Saturday was one of those times,” head coach Dave Szostak said. “Our girls gave it everything they had but just couldn’t come away with the victory.”

Bernards was unable to emerge victorious as a team, but it was a banner day for the program’s relay units, with Melanie Macchiaverna and Emma Raftery capturing the high jump and Danielle Aharoni and Danielle Coons combining to help win the pole vault. Also taking home first-place medals were the distance medley squad and the 4X800 quartets.

Bernards won the 4×800 as Zoe Wojtech, Katherine Gunson, Sydney Rudin and Laura Quintana clocked in at 9:54.68. Quintana, Gunson and Wojtech were joined by Maddy Auerbacher on a first-place effort in the distance medley, when they ran a 12:39.50.

“It was a good day for our distance runners, but it’s been our strong suit throughout the season,” Szostak said. “But it’s in the plans to start running faster now as the season is progressing and we’re getting ourselves into bigger and more competitive meets.”

In the pole vault, both Aharoni and Coons cleared 9-6 to give Bernards the gold and Macchiaverna cleared the meet’s top height of 5-4 in the high jump to come out on top.

But going into the event, she didn’t know if she had what it took to be the best.

“Going into it, I knew it would be tough to even try and place,” Macchiaverna said. “I knew the best in the state would be there and I just focused harder than I have in the past and I walked away as the winner.”

Next up for Bernards is the Skyland Conference Championships, Jan. 26 at Lehigh University. Then, in February, come the sectionals and Group I meets where the Mountaineers can do the most damage.

“We can’t compete depth-wise and we probably can’t win the team title, because some of the other teams in the Skyland Conference are the best in the state and they’re Group IV schools; we simply can’t stack up to them top to bottom,” Szostak said. “We’ll go for season-best times and look to get some individual medals.”

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