Following the Ridgewood High School Boys and Girls Winter Track Team’s success at the Bergen County Relays, the team brought its best to the NJSIAA Sectional Track and Field Championship in Toms River. Both the boys and girls divisions placed first in this prestigious competition, something that has not been achieved at Ridgewood in the last ten years.
Varsity runners Billy Byrne, Sid Wagh, and Michael Thurston placed among the highest in events such as the mile, the 400m, and the two-mile. Distance runner Billy Byrne, a junior, came in sixth place for the mile (1600m), clocking in at 4:37. He also came in third place for the two-mile (3200m), running at 9:45. Sophomore Sid Wagh also placed in the two-mile, running at 9:54 and placing seventh overall. Senior Michael Thurston came in third place for the 400m at 52.46, while sophomore Matt Tai ran only about a second more at 53.98, coming in at seventh place.
Ben Zamboldi, Kenneth Marshall, and Zack Stadulis were among some of the other runners who aided in making this meet a success. Sophomore Ben Zamboldi ran five seconds behind Billy Byrne in the mile event, placing ninth at 4:42. Senior Kenneth Marshall placed eighth in the two-mile at 9:56. Following Michael Thurston in the 400m, Junior Zach Stadulis ran a 54.51 and came in at thirteenth place. In the 4x400m event, Michael Thurston, Zack Stadulis, Matt Tai, and Will Baginski came in first place. These four boys finished at 3:32.95, which not only won them first place for the event, but awarded Ridgewood with the one extra point they needed to get ahead of Morristown (42-41), officially deeming the boys’ team first place winners of the championship meet.
As for the girls, varsity runner Olympia Martin crushed the other competitors in the mile and the two-mile event, coming in first for both. She ran a 5:05 mile and a 10:56 two-mile to gain first-place status in both events. Following her in the mile event, Sam Halvorsen came in third place at 5:15 and Corina Cobb came in sixteenth place, finishing at 5:59. In the girls two-mile event, Ridgewood swept the competition with Olympia Martin in first, Sam Halvorsen in third at 10:59, and Hannah Fishbein in seventh at 11:51. For the 400m event, senior sprinter Riley Alvaro came in twelfth place at 1:05. Evelyn Kotch, Meghan Adams, Leah Rosenfeld, and Cate Shippee came in fifth place for the 4x400m event at 4:18. Altogether, the Ridgewood girls placed first with 64.2 points, defeating Montclair at 51.2 points.
To add to the success of this year’s winter track team, Michael Thurston has been named High School Male Athlete of the Week by NorthJersey.com for the second time in his running career. This admirable title highlights his extraordinary performance at the sectional championships, as well as his first place win at the Bergen County Relays, where he ran the second fastest 600m race in New Jersey’s history at 1:20.1. Recently, Michael placed seventh in the 4x800m relay along with Andrew Taggert, Will Baginski, and Ben Zamboldi at the Millrose Games in New York on Saturday, February 20.
Needless to say, Ridgewood’s winter track team has experienced a season like no other. As many runners transition from winter to spring track, they will take a well-deserved two week break between seasons. Meanwhile, a small handful of varsity runners have qualified to attend the Eastern States Championship at the New Balance Armory on March 1, and will continue practicing in preparation.