CALDWELL – The Mount St. Dominic Academy indoor track team started its season on a positive note.
The team competed in the Essex County Season Opener on Friday, Dec. 20 and the Super Essex Conference Liberty Division Championships on Monday, Dec. 23.
At the SEC Championships, junior Alexa Raphael '21 set a school record while capturing first place as she ran 7.51 in the 55m dash. Sophomore Gianna Mangili '22 placed third with a personal-record 7.71.
Raphael took third in the 200m dash (27.32), while Mangili took sixth (28.01). In the 800m, junior Carol Aguirre '21 took fourth with a personal-record 2:39, and senior Sydney Anish '20 took seventh in a personal-record 2:45.
Sophomore Carina Navas '22 took fourth in the 1600m in a personal-record 6:07.
In the novice sprint medley and novice distance medley, freshmen Maria Holevas '23, Amanda Galasso '23, Ava LaBruno '23 and Olivia LaBruno '23 placed first and set the meet record in both events.
“Our team had some really strong performances last winter,” said Richard O’Connor, who is in his fourth year as head coach and sixth year at the Mount. “We had multiple athletes qualify for Eastern States Championships and had an athlete qualify for the state Meet of Champions.
“We lost quite a few seniors from our distance group but return all of our sprinters from last year. We also had a very strong cross country season this fall and have many of those athletes competing with us this winter.”
O’Connor expects Raphael and senior Julia Acevedo '20 to lead the team this year.
“Alexa Raphael is our top returner from last year,” he said. “She is our school record holder in the 55m dash, 55m hurdles and 200m dash. Last year, she qualified for the New Jersey state Meet of Champions in the 55m hurdles and is one of the top returners in the Liberty Division Conference and Non-Public B across all of her events.
“Julia Acevedo has proven to be one of the best long jumpers in the county over the past few years. Last year, she qualified for the Eastern States Championships in the long jump and also contributes to many of our relays during the winter.”
A handful of other returning runners are expected to contribute.
“We have a really deep team this year and expect returners like seniors Anya Michalewski '20 and Sydney Anish, juniors Carol Aguirre and Alison Arcoleo '21, and sophomore Carina Navas to lead our team this year through their performances on the track.”
A number of newcomers have joined the team.
“We have a tremendous group of new athletes this winter that we are really excited about,” O’Connor said. “Gianna Mangili is starting her first winter track season after a great spring track season as a freshman last year. She qualified for the Non-Public A State Championships in the 100m dash and should be one of the top sprinters in Non-Public B this winter.
“We have a number of freshmen who have a ton of potential and that we are excited to see race early this winter including Maria Holevas, Amanda Galasso, Ava LaBruno, Olivia LaBruno and Michela Peluso '23. They are a confident bunch who seem to have great chemistry. We have some great upperclassmen leaders, so they are in good hands.”
The team hopes to accomplish a lot this season.
“We hope to place in the top five as a team at the Non-Public B State Relay Championships and the Non-Public B State Group Championships,” O’Connor said. “We also hope to send as many athletes as possible to the Eastern States Championships and the New Jersey state Meet of Champions. For our group of young freshmen, we hope that they will find a love for the sport and realize the significant potential they have as a group and as individuals for the future.”