2006 - '07 Winter Track News


Boys Defeat Girls in First Annual "Battle of the Sexes" Scrimmage

Sparta, nJ (Dec. 15, 2006) � The Pope John boys winter track team defeated the Pope John girls team in the first annual "Battle of the Sexes" scrimmage at the PJ track today.  Using the IAAF Multi-Event Scoring tables for points and scoring the top 3 in all events, the boys were able to vanquish the girls by a score of 16769 to 16620.  Events contested included the 55m, 55 HH, 300m, 500m, 1000m, High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump, and Shot Put.  Click the link below for performances and point totals.

The teams travel the New York City Armory on Wednesday, December 20th for the first invitational of the season.

Scrimmage Results


Thomas, Sapol, O'Connor Set Class Records at Spiked Shoe

NYC, nY (Dec. 20, 2006) � Chris Thomas ('08), Amy Sapol ('07) and Melanie O'Connor ('10) set class records on Wednesday at the first annual Spiked Shoe Holiday Classic.  Competing at the NYC Armory for the first time this season, Thomas broke Mike Mazur's ('05) junior class record in the triple jump with a leap of 40-7.5, O'Connor bested the freshman class record of Sarah Bieganousky ('09) from one year ago with a jump of 4-4, while Sapol added the senior class record to the junior class one she set last season.  Medalists at the meet included Jeremy Tucker ('07) in the 55m dash, Katherine Ozmeral ('07) in the long jump, O'Connor in the freshman high hurdles, and the freshman boys' 4 x 400m relay team.  The team consisted of Sean Reid ('10), Dan McIntyre ('10), Chris Patterson ('10) and Greg Moore ('10).

The teams return to action in the New Year with the ESU Invitational on January 5th and the NJCTC Winter Relays on the 7th.

Meet Results


Sapol Ties PV School Record at East Stroudsburg

East Stroudsburg, pa (Jan. 5, 2007) � Amy Sapol ('07) tied her own school record and set a senior class record in the Pole Vault with a jump of 7-6 last night at the annual East Stroudsburg University Invitational.  Joining Amy in the class record breaking was the victorious Emily Carrollo ('09) in the 55m dash.  Emily's time of 7.3 seconds established a new sophomore class record and ties her personal best.  Also in the 55m dash, Tara Downing ('07) tied Amy Goralczyk's ('01) senior class record with a performance of 7.5.  Rounding out the class record setting was Melanie O'Connor ('10), who established new marks in the High Jump (breaking her own record) with a leap of 4-6 and the Long Jump with a distance of 14-9.

Highlights from the boys' team included: Thoe Lusardi's ('07) 3rd place finish in the Shot Put with a throw of 44-1.5, Ricky Okoye's ('09) long jump of 17-3, PR's for Ryan Norris ('07) and Robert Prignano ('07) in the 55m High Hurdles, and a 2nd place finish for Jon Juleus ('08) in the 1600m with a time of 4:38.9.

The teams return to action on Sunday with the NJCTC Winter Relays at the New York City Armory.

Meet Results

Girls Win First Ever State Relays Championship; Boys Take Third

JERSEY CITY ARMORY, JERSEY CITY, NJ (January 12, 2007) - For the first time in school history, the Girls Team has won a state indoor Track & Field Relays Championship.  Competing in the NJSIAA Group 1 Championships, the girls scored 48 points to easily defeat second place Haddonfield (27 points) and third place Haddon Heights (16 points).  All of the Lions' points were scored on the track where the runners took first place in the 4 x 200, 4 x 400, SMR, and DMR.  The ladies also took second in the 4 x 800, demonstrating emphatically that they are one of the deepest running teams in NJ.  Seniors Tara DowningLauren Bariexca, and Alex Bush led the way for the girls, each taking two gold medals.  Downing's came in the 4 x 200 and the SMR; Bariexca's in the DMR and the 4 x 400; and Bush's in the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400.  Bariexca also picked up a silver medal in the 4 x 800.  Senior Lara Heigis took a gold in the DMR and a silver in the 4 x 800.  Classmate Kelsey Murphy also took a silver in the 4 x 800.  The junior class was represented on the medal stand by Caitlyn Lees who ran a 200m leg in the SMR.

If it is possible, there was a class comparable in strength to the seniors.  The sophs, led by Emily Carrollo, Sarah Bieganousky and Sarah Cariati made some hefty contributions to the cause.  Carrollo led the medal haul, taking three gold medals by leading off the winning SMR and anchoring the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 teams.  Emily's anchor in the 4 x 200 was sizzling as she broke her own indoor school record when she split in 25.6.  The pair of Sarahs, Bieganousky and Cariati, both took home two golds.  Sarah B. in the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400; and Sarah C. in the SMR and DMR.  Fellow sophomore, Kasey Homa, also was a golden girl earning her medal as the 400m leg in the DMR.  The lone freshman to take home a medal was Ashton Weiler, who took a silver as part of the 4 x 800 team.

In the field, sophomore Sylvia Okoye PRed in the shot with a throw of 30-10.5.

The boys team placed a very respectable third, scoring 31 points, behind Abraham Clark of Roselle who won the championship with 37 points and second place Union Catholic with 34 points.  The sole team to win gold was the 4 x 800 team of seniors Clay Smith, Rob Lennon, and Jeremy Scheid, joined by junior Jon Juleus.  Scheid and Juleus also earned silver medals as part of the DMR.  They teamed with seniors Tim Burns and Matt Pezzulo

But without question the outstanding male performer was senior Theo Lusardi who contributed points in four events.  In the field Theo teamed with junior Chris Thomas to take fifth in the High Jump; and with classmate Kevin Flannery to take sixth in the shot.  Both Lusardi (45-3.75) and Flannery (40-9.75) PRed, and Theo's heave established a new school indoor record.  On the track Lusardi anchored both the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relays, helping his teams to 4th place and 5th place finishes respectively.

Both teams return to action on Saturday when they compete in the New Balance Games at the Armory Track & Field Center, NYC.

Meet Results

Heigis. Bariexca, Girls' SMR, Boys' SH set School Records at New Balance

ARMORY TRACK & FIELD CENTER, NYC (January 20, 2007) - Pope John records fell at the 12th Annual New Balance Games held today at this famous East Coast track Mecca.  With over one hundred schools competing, and elite races that featured pros such as Alan Webb and Mary Cullen, the Lion boys and girls distinguished themselves early and often.

The first school record fell in the first event of the day when the boys shuttle hurdle team of seniors Rob Prignano, Ryan Norris, Mike Gaus, and junior Ricky Lencsak clocked in at 34.6.  Norris and Gaus both PRed.  The last records that fell came in the Girls SMR - one of the last events.  In that race, the team of sophomores Emily Carrollo and Sarah Bieganousky, joined with seniors Tara Downing and Lauren Bariexca to shatter the school record in that event.  Running an electrifying 4:10.6, fast enough for third place and easily meeting the national qualifying standard of 4:20.00, Downing set a senior class record of 26.4 for her 200m leg, while Bariexca set a new school record in the 800m running a great anchor leg in a time of 2:16.8.  Lauren will be running for the Big Red of Cornell University next year.

Sandwiched between these two record setting performances was perhaps the most notable record of the day.  Senior Lara Heigis, running the HS Girls Invitational Mile, just missed going sub-five minutes when she put up a new school record time of 5:03.8.  Competing with the top girl milers in the nation, Lara showed why she deserved to be in this elite company.  In the race until the very end, which was won by U.S. #1 Danielle Tauro, Heigis made everyone of her teammates and coaches proud showing great grit and determination.  This record is just further proof of the fact that Lara is the greatest girls distance runner in PJ history.  She will be showcasing her talent for Brown University following graduation.

Other performances of note included senior Amy Sapol tying her own school pole vault record of 7-6, and junior Chris Thomas setting a new junior class record in the triple jump (40-9.75).  New PRs were set by senior Kevin Flannery in the shot put (41-1.75); junior Trevor Warden in the triple jump (33-10.75); junior Cory Haynes (25.2) and senior Theo Lusardi (23.1) in the 200m; and senior Rob Lennon (2:03.7) and junior Nick Beese (2:07.9) in the 800m run.

The young Lions will perform on Monday, January 22, at the NJ Frosh/Novice Meet at the Armory Track & Field Center, starting at 4:30 PM.

Meet Results

PR's Dominate the Novice Meet

ARMORY TRACK & FIELD CENTER, NYC (January 22, 2007) - The annual NJ Frosh-Novice Meet is an opportunity for the young athletes to see how much they have improved after six weeks of training for track and field.  For many of the athletes, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors alike, this has been their first experience attempting to get into "track shape" - their first opportunity to pit themselves against athletes from the tri-state area who are at the same level of training.  The meet also provides an opportunity for the coaches to determine which athletes are tough and want to compete, and which athletes haven't yet learned how to compete.  Fortunately, both goals were accomplished as evidenced by the large number of PRs (personal records) set by the young Lions and placements won.

Beginning with the freshmen girls, Brianna Bourlier finished in a second place tie in the high jump with a leap of 4-2, while  Ashton Weiler (5:50.3) and Marissa Galante (5:53.0)  placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 1600m run.  Weiler also placed fourth in the 800m run with a time of 2:38.6.  In the same 1600m race, Rebecca Costantini recorded a PR of 6:22.0.  Last but not least, Ashley Taylor PRed in the 400m, with a split of 1:09.4 on her leg of the 4 x 400 relay.

For the frosh boys, Dan McIntyre had a big day recording two PRs, placing second in the high jump (5-2), and leading off the fourth place freshmen 4 x 400 relay.  In the 200 Dan's time was 25.3, while in the lead-off leg of the 4 x 400, he split 58.9.  The other members of the relay were A.J. Hanifin, Sean Reid, and Chris Patterson.  Hanifin also recorded a PR in the 1600m run with a time of 5:03.0, and placed fifth in the frosh 800m run with a time of 2:17.6.  Reid also picked-up a fifth place medal in the high jump (4-6).

In the girls Novice competition, sophomore throwers Sylvia Okoye and April Conway both established indoor PRs.  Sylvia's 31-1.5 foot toss was the best of the day, earning the sole gold medal for the Lions.  Conway's chuck of 23-3 demonstrates that she is on the way to becoming a vital part of the throws team.

Finally, the Novice boys had a big day led by Paraic O'Reilly's 4:58.0 PR in the 1600m run.  This was a breakthrough race for Paraic, being the first time that he ran at a sub-five minute pace.  O'Reilly followed that up with a PR of 57.7 in the 400m, running the second leg of the 4 x 400 novice relay.  One of his teammates on that 4 x 400,  Cory Haynes (56.8), also PRed.  Another PR came in the Novice 400m, where Dave  Kratzer ran a time of 55.9.  Two jumpers, Jason Frandi (35-1) in the triple jump and Ricky Okoye (17-10) in the long jump, established new PRs.  Okoye also debuted in the shot put with a throw of 32-0.5.  Frandi also PRed in the 800m with a time of 2:13.7.

Meet Results

Girls Repeat as NJCTC Champions; Boys Finish Third

Heigis, Bariexca, Girls 4 x 400 and Lusardi Win Gold


JERSEY CITY ARMORY (January 27, 2007) - Seniors Lara Heigis and Lauren Bariexca, along with the 4 x 400 relay team brought home gold for the girls, to lead the girls team to their second consecutive NJCTC Winter Championship.  The girls' 90 points easily defeated second place Monsignor Donovan (59 points) and the remainder of the field.  Overall team depth was the key, as the Lions placed second in five other events to cinch the win.  For the boys, senior Theo Lusardi took the only gold, helping the team to a third place finish behind Saint Benedict and CBA.


L to R - Front Row: Tara Downing, Amy Sapol, Caitlin Meehan, Kelsey Murphy, Carolyn Bieganousky, Alex Bush, Lauren Bariexca, Emily Smith, Katherine Ozmeral, Lara Heigis.

Standing: Marissa Galante, Sarah Cariati, Kim Trumpore, Kara Turnbull, Rebecca Costantini, Ashton Weiler, Caitlyn Lees, Casey Keller, Lauren Hurley, Brianna Bourlier, Sylvia Okoye,  Melissa O'Connor, Stephanie Keller, Kasey Homa, Sarah Bieganousky


Although a tremendous team effort is the story, Lara Heigis' dual victories in the 1600m and 3200m runs definitely are noteworthy.  Lara held off a game Marie Walsh from Mater Dei, to win the 1600, and teamed with sophomore Sarah Cariati to  easily win the 3200m.  Cariati finished two-tenths of a second behind Heigis to take second.  Equally noteworthy was Lauren Bariexca's win in the 1000m run.  Not only did it set the tone for the day by coming in the first race of the day, but Lauren's time of 3:01.48 set a new school record for the event. Bariexca also took a placed fifth in the 1600m. Cariati also figured big in the 1000m, taking third place and six valuable points.


Lara Heigis won two events, running 5:13.49 in the 1,600 and 11:42.40 in the 3,200 to lead Pope John to the team title at the NJCTC Winter Track Championships earning her Daily Record Athlete of the Week Honors

Courtesy Daily Record


Another girls school record fell in the 600m race where sophomore Sarah Bieganousky ran a very fast 1:40.04 to take silver.  She duplicated her placement in the 300m dash, running 43.36 in that event.  Senior Tara Downing also won a silver medal in the 55m dash in a time of 7.55.  She then led off the victorious 4 x 400 team; joining with Bieganousky, Bariexca, and senior Alex Bush to finish the race in 4:12.14, a full ten seconds faster than the second place Monsignor Donovan.  Bush also finished in sixth in the 300m dash. Rounding out the Lions' scoring was a 6th place finish by freshman Ashton Weiler in the 3200m run and a 2nd place finish by the 4 x 800m relay of Marissa Galante, Casey Keller (in her season debut), Weiler and Kelsey Murphy.


On the boys side, the highlight of the meet was senior Theo Lusardi's school record setting, and first place toss, of 49-9 in the shot put competition.  The throw was a four foot PR for Lusardi and is a mere three inches short of the national qualifying distance.  Other placers for the boys include senior Clay Smith, who took sixth place in the 1000m run; senior Jeremy Scheid who placed third in the 3200m;  junior Jon Juleus who placed 3rd in the 1600m run with a PR time of 4:29.64;  junior Chris Thomas who earned a silver medal in the high jump competition; and a 5th place by the 4 x 800m relay of sophomore Ryan Ehrhardt, junior Nick Beese, sophomore Chris Gaus, and freshman AJ Hanifin.


Both teams return to action on Wednesday, Jan. 31st for the  NJ Metropolitan Invitational.


Pope John Results

Girls Meet Results

Boys Meet Results



Records and PRs the Story at Metropolitan Invitational


ARMORY TRACK & FIELD CENTER, NYC (January 31, 2007) - Junior Jon Juleus was knocking at the door.  For the last few weeks he has run some good races, but was coming up just short of having a big breakthrough.  The breakthrough came last night when Jon eclipsed his old PR by seven seconds, posting a time of 4:22.3 in the 1600m run.  "Juleus has been ready to run a race like this for some time", said PJ Coach Brian Corcoran, "it was just a matter of whether he really wanted to do it.  Obviously, Jon wants to do well and he's on his way to even better performances." 


Emily Carollo Jon Juleus


The other outstanding race tonight was run by sophomore Emily Carollo.  Emily broke her own PJ record in the 200m with a time of 24.9.  It came as she ran the anchor leg of the 4 x 200.  The relay team of senior Tara Downing, sophomore Sarah Bieganousky, junior Caitlyn Lees, with Carollo, completed the race in 1:46.00, the third fastest time in NJ this year according to Ed Grant's list of NJ performances.  The school record of 1:45.4 was set last year with Downing leading off and Carollo anchoring.  The middle legs of the record setting race were run by senior Carolyn Bieganousky, who is currently injured, and recently graduated Rachel Posthumus ('06)


Other PR performances were turned in by senior Kelsey Murphy in the 1600m run (5:29.9); junior Kim Trumpore in the shot put (24-1.75); freshmen Dan McIntyre (58.3) and Greg Moore (58.9) in the 400m; and frosh Melanie O'Connor in the 55m HH (9.4) and the triple jump (31.0.5).  O'Connor's HH time was good enough for third place in the freshman competition, while her triple jump mark took a first place among the freshmen and sets a new PJ freshman class record.   "Melanie doesn't realize how good she can become", said Corcoran.  "She has the potential to break every PJ horizontal jump and hurdle record, and to become a multiple state champion.  If she dedicates herself to the sport, she has the makings of a great multi-eventer."


Finally, the freshmen boys 4 x 400 team of McIntyre, Moore, Chris Patterson, and Sean Reid placed second in the frosh division for the event.


Pope John Results



Vroom, Vroom at Varsity Classic


ARMORY TRACK & FIELD CENTER, NYC (February 5, 2007) - It was pedal to the metal tonight at the fastest indoor track in America, and the Lady Lions were out front doing their "Speed Racer" thing.  School record breaking runs sandwiched many outstanding performances.  Sophomore Sarah Cariati started the evening by setting a new school record in the 3200m (11:24.8), establishing herself among the luminaries of PJ girls distance runners.  Lions' fans can now speak of Sarah in the same breath with current teammate Lara Heigis (former 3200 school record holder, multiple First Team All-Stater, and soon to be Brown University Bear); and with alumna such as Liz So '06 (University of Chicago '10), and Lafayette College steeplechase record holder Franny Morro '04.  The night ended with a record-setting performance in the 4 x 400 relay.  Sophomores Sarah Bieganousky and Emily Carollo teamed with seniors Tara Downing and Alex Bush to run the second sub-four minute time in Lions' history, finishing in 3:59.8.  Taking first in the race, this relay team also posted the second fastest time in NJ this season.  Carollo's split of 57.8 further lowered her own indoor 400m school record, while Bieganousky's split of 59.4 established a new PR for this talented soph.  Sarah also PRed in the 800 with a split of 2:20.6.  Freshman Melanie O'Connor PRed and set new frosh class records in both horizontal jumps.  Her hops of 31-2.5 in the triple jump and 15-9.5 in the long jump were both outstanding performances.


    The girls relay teams now own the following marks: 4 x 800 is U.S. # 13 and NJ # 3; DMR is U.S. # 9 and NJ # 3; 4 x 400 is NJ # 2; 4 x 200 is NJ # 3; and SMR is NJ # 3.


4 x 400 Relay Team (Clockwise from top): Tara Downing, Sarah Bieganousky, Emily Carollo, Alex Bush Sarah Cariati


    The boys also contributed to the record breaking.  Junior Chris Thomas tied the junior class record with a PR leap of 6-4 in the high jump.  In one event, the 1600m, three boys set new PRs.  Senior Jeremy Scheid (4:29.1), junior Josh D'Anna (4:50.2), and freshman A.J. Hanifin (4:55.3) all ran great races.  Hanifin made the big sub-five minute breakthrough by displaying incredible resolve.  He told Assistant Coach Nick Dilworth what time he intended to run before the race and he toughed out the last two laps to make his prediction a reality.  In the 800m run, seniors Tim Burns (2:02.3) and Rob Lennon (2:03.1) both PRed.


    The throwers return to action on Wednesday night at the Garfield Classic #3 at Garfield High School, while the Freshmen and Sophomores will compete in the NJCTC Frosh/Soph Championships on Sunday at the Jersey City Armory.  The Varsity team will prepare for the NJSIAA Group 1 Championships scheduled for Thursday, February 15, at the Toms River Bubble in Tom River.


Pope John Results



Throwers Have "Long" Week with Lots of PRs


GARFIELD HS and JERSEY CITY ARMORY (February 7 and 11, 2007) - It was a "long" week for the PJ Throwers as most of the team competed in two meets.  On Wednesday the 7th, the entire team competed in the Garfield #3 throws meet, while the Freshmen and Sophomores had a second meet at the NJCTC Frosh/Soph Championships today in Jersey City.  What made the week so "long" was that most of the athletes delivered PR performances at one or both meets.


    At Garfield the Boys led the way with five of the eight on the team throwing for PRs.  In the freshmen competition, Dillon White extended his PR by a foot with a toss of 31-6, while sophomores Ricky Okoye (35-9.75) and Shaun Baker (26-11.75), along with junior Mert Konrat (25-9.75), all PRed.  Okoye's chuck bested his previous record by over four feet!  The toss of the night for the boys belonged to senior Kevin Flannery, who launched the shot 43-0.25, extending his PR by almost a full two feet.  On the girls side, freshman Natalia Ignaczak came back from a two week injury lay-off with a PR throw of 19-5.5.


    The performances were even better at the NJCTC Frosh/Soph championships.  Seven of the eight young athletes PRed, some for the second time in four days.  Today the girls shined, with sophomore Sylvia Okoye's toss of 31-6.25 being the highlight.  Sylvia has been working very hard on correcting some technical flaws, and today the hard work paid off.  Not only did she set a new PR, she also won the gold medal in the sophomore girls division.  The other three girl throwers also PRed.  Sophomore April Conway (24-2), with freshmen Chiazam Onyenso (24-6.75) and Natalia Ignaczak (21-0), all had banner days.  Chiazam placed fourth in the freshmen girls competition while Ignaczak also PRed at Garfield on Wednesday.


    The boy throwers also had encouraging results.  In the soph division, Ricky Okoye had a second huge PR for the week with a heave of 37-7.  Classmate Clay Trainor made a fantastic breakthrough with three throws that were further than his previous PR, but his last toss of 30-10 destroyed the 30 foot barrier that stymies many a young thrower.  Trainor is a javelin thrower who throws the shot in the winter to stay in javelin shape and to work on foot quickness, which makes his accomplishment all the more remarkable.  Fellow javelin thrower and classmate Mike DeStefano rounded out the PR performances with a throw of 26-0.


    The varsity throwers will return to action on Thursday, February 15 for the NJSIAA Group 1 Championships.  The meet will take place at the Toms River Bubble starting at 4:00 PM.


Pope John Results


Frosh/Soph Results



Freshmen Girls Win Championship; Numerous Records Set


JERSEY CITY ARMORY (February 11, 2007) - Employing a total team effort, the freshmen girls retained their NJCTC Freshman Championship title today at the Jersey City Armory.   The girls were led by Melanie O'Connor who won both the high hurdles and high jump events, contributing 20 points to the 67 point total.  Every girl, save one, scored a point for the team.  In addition to winning the HH and HJ, O'Connor tied the freshman class record in the HH (8.90), and tied her own PR in the HJ with a leap of 4-6.  O'Connor's classmates, Chiazam Onyenso and Ashley Taylor also PRed in their events.  Onyenso tossed the shot 24-6.75 for a fourth place finish, while Taylor PRed in three events - the 55m sprint (8.1); 300m run (49.7); and the 400m (1:09.6).  Ashton Weiler and Marissa Galante also made major contributions in both the 1660m and 3200m runs.  Weiler placed first in the 1600m with a time of 5:43.3 and second in the 3200 (12:33.5).  Galante placed fourth in the 1600 (5:52.7) and third in the 3200 with a new PR (12:39.3).


For the sophomore girls, Sylvia Okoye took the gold and 10 point by winning the shot put competition with a toss of 31-6.75, an indoor PR, leading the girls to a sixth place finish.  Classmate Kasey Homa took two fifth place medals in the 55m (7.9) and the 300m (46.5).  In the same events, Lauren Hurley placed sixth with times of 7.9 and 46.8, respectively.  Finally, Rebecca Costantini placed sixth in the 1000m run with a time of 3:35.4.


On the boys side, freshman Dan McIntyre tied the class record, and took fourth place in the 300m with a time of 38.8.  PRs were set by A.J. Hanifin (10:33.8), Chris Gaus (10:28.1), Tim Paziora (10:32.2), and Ben Woods (11:58.6), all in the 3200m run.  Sophomores Jason Frandi (1:32.8) and Ryan Ehrhardt (2:49.9) both had nice runs in the 600m and 1000m events, respectively.  Finally, Brandon Ferris had a 14 second PR in winning his heat of the 1600m with a time of 5:32.2.


Frosh/Soph Results


Pope John Results



Girls and Boys Win NJSIAA Group 1 State Championships

Heigis, Carollo, Bariexca, Juleus, Thomas, & Girls 4 x 400 Take Home Gold


JOHN BENNETT ATHLETIC CENTER, TOMS RIVER, NJ (February 15, 2007) - Coming into the NJSIAA Group 1 Championships the prognosticators had picked the Pope John Lions Girls as the odds-on favorites; but no one had considered that the Boys could come away with the team win.  Consequently, when the Girls won the team championship in a rout - scoring 76 points - no one was surprised.  However, the Boys narrow three point victory over Abraham Clark of Roselle, 28 - 25, surprised virtually everyone in the new John Bennett Indoor Track facility with the exception of the Boys themselves, the coaches, and the loyal Lions' fans.  It was also no surprise that the girls put away the championship early, earning placements in the 55 dash and 1600m run, while the boys had to wait until the conclusion of the last race of the night, the 4 x 400 relay, to proclaim their victory.  For the girls it was their first ever Indoor Group championship; while the boys last won the championship in 2004.


Boys and Girls NJSIAA Group 1 Champions


Sitting (L to R): Emily Smith, Caitlin Meehan, Tara Downing, Lara Heigis, Lauren Bariexca, Carolyn Bieganousky, Alex Bush, Amy Sapol, Tom Roy

Second Row: Theo Lusardi, Tim Burns, Jeremy Scheid, Mike Gaus, Rob Lennon, Kevin Flannery, Clay Smith, Rob Prignano

Third/Top Row: Sarah Bieganousky, Sarah Cariati, Chris Thomas, Sylvia Okoye, Nick Beese, Melanie O'Connor, Dave Kratzer, Emily Carollo, Jon Juleus


On the boys side, the team was led by the gold medal performances of juniors Chris Thomas in the high jump, and Jon Juleus in the 1600m run.  For both of these outstanding young athletes it was their first individual state championship title, though both boys were displaying the ability to take the crowns in recent weeks.   Thomas is on the verge of making school history as he continues to improve in the high jump.  Though his performance tonight was not his best of the year (6-0), the junior has learned that it's not about heights in championship contests; rather, it's about winning.  Focusing on nothing but the win, Thomas did all that was necessary to accomplish the task.  Similarly, Juleus didn't worry about times during his run.  His goal was to win, and he used his explosive kick to do just that.  Sitting on the slow pace for the first 800 meters, Juleus used a burst of speed to drop the rest of the competition on the 5th lap.  From there Jon just paced in the last three laps for the victory in 4:28.89.  He looked comfortable, strong, and confident throughout the run.


Though Juleus and Thomas provided 20 of the boys 28 points, it was the grit and determination of the other two point scorers that ultimately delivered the team win.  In the 3200m run, senior Jeremy Scheid, battled to a fifth place finish (9:43.43) in what many observers considered the race of the night, as Doug Smith of Gill-St. Bernard and Andrew Hanko of Trinity Christian, finished in a virtual dead heat as they ran two of the fastest times in the country this year in this event.  With the pace being so fast, Scheid made a team decision and fought hard for the 3rd place spot.  In another display of pure toughness and desire, senior Clay Smith took third in the 800m run in a PR time of 2:00.76.  Smith came from fifth place at the start of the gun lap to take third in the last 150m and then battled to hold off a game fight by Pompton Lakes senior, Dane Bender.

Complete Boys Results


Unlike the dramatics of the boys' victory, the girls simply dominated the rest of the competition as they were fifty points better than the number two team, Haddon Heights.  Their 76 point total, based on preliminary research, is the second highest girls team point total since the NJSIAA adopted the present Group Championship format.  The girls won four individual events and the 4 x 400 relay, while also placing in five events.  Senior Lara Heigis (1600m and 3200m) and sophomore Emily Carollo (400m and 1600m relay) both won two gold medals, with Carollo also picking-up a third place medal in the 55m; senior Lauren Bariexca  (800m and 1600m) won a gold and a bronze medal as did sophomore Sarah Bieganousky (1600m relay and 400m); senior Alex Bush won gold and took a fifth place medal (1600m relay and 800m; and senior Tara Downing (1600m relay) and sophomore Sarah Cariati (3200m) each won one medal.  The 1600m relay team of Bieganousky, Downing, Bush, and Carollo also set a new meet record with their time of 4:03.69.


NJSIAA Group 1 Individual Champions


(L to R):  Chris Thomas, Jon Juleus, Lauren Bariexca, Tara Downing, Alex Bush, Emily Carollo, Sarah Bieganousky, Lara Heigis


With the girls winning so handily, it is easy to overlook just how tough and competitive they are.  Certainly the college coaches have noticed!  All of the senior medalists are committed to quality collegiate programs.  The Ivy League gets two great middle distance / distance runners in Heigis, who is going to Brown University, and Bariexca who will be running for the Big Red of Cornell.  Rochester Institute of Technology will have the services of Alex Bush, while, much to the chagrin of Coach Morro (Fordham College '75), the Jaspers of Manhattan College get a great sprinter in Tara Downing.


The full team, varsity and youngsters return to action on Saturday, February 17 in the Hall of Fame Classic at the Armory Track & Field Center in the Big Apple.


Complete Girls Results



Golden Day at Hall of Fame Classic


ARMORY TRACK & FIELD CTR., NYC (February 17, 2007) - After winning their first indoor NJ Group championship on Thursday night, it would have been easy for the PJ girls to rest on their laurels and to have a fun day at the 4th Annual Pepsi Hall of Fame Classic.  That may be true for most teams, but for the Lady Lions the way that they have fun is to run fast and to break records.  Well, they had lots of fun today!  Most notable among many highlights was the Championship 4 x 800 relay who won their race in a meet record 9:15.71.  The team of seniors Lauren Bariexca, Alex Bush, and Lara Heigis, joined by sophomore Sarah Cariati, now have the #1 time in New Jersey and the #3 time nationally, as well as a new PJ record.  For Cariati, it was the race of her life as she PRed in a time of 2:18.6, setting a new sophomore class record in the process.


Lauren Bariexca Alex Bush Sarah Cariati Lara Heigis


The girls Sprint Medley Relay also was awarded first place after the team from Easton, PA was disqualified.  Sophomore Emily Carrollo led off on the 400m leg in a sizzling 57.7, delivering the baton to senior Tara Downing who split 26.5 on the first 200m leg.  Downing did a tremendous job holding off the runner from Easton to give the stick to sophomore Sarah Bieganousky in first place, allowing Sarah to clear the field after the first turn, finishing her 200m leg in a split of 26.1.  That left Bariexca to bring home the victory on the anchor 800m leg.  Lauren did not disappoint, splitting in a new PR and school record time of 2:15.8.  The final time for the SMR of 4:06.27 sets a new PJ record, and like the 4 x 800, is the #1 time in New Jersey and #3 in the United States this year.


Emily Carrollo Tara Downing Sarah Bieganousky


Finally, five girls combined in the preliminaries and final of the 4 x 200 relay to bring home a sixth place finish; a time that ties the PJ record; a third U.S. #3 time; and an individual school record.  Downing, Bieganousky and Carrollo were joined by junior Caitlyn Lees in the preliminary and by freshman Melanie O'Connor in the final.  The time of 1:45.53 in the final was just slightly better than the 1:45.72 run in the prelim.  Emily's split of 24.7 in the preliminary anchor leg lowered her own school record in the 200m by three-tenths of a second, and Bieganousky's split of 25.9, also in the preliminary, set a new PR for this very talented sophomore.  Tara's split of 26.1 in the final was a PR as well.  Other girls who had PR performances included sophomore Kasey Homa in both the 400m (1:05.5) and the 200m (27.9); junior Kim Trumpore in the shot (24-4); and sophomore Chidemma Onyenso in the 1:06.1.  Senior Amy Sapol tied her PR in the pole vault at 8-0.  Last but not least for the girls, the freshman 4 x 200 relay team of Ashley Taylor, Briana Boulier, Alisha Lolk, and Melanie O'Connor finished in sixth place in a time of 1:58.2.


Kasey Homa Chidemma Onyenso Caitlyn Lees Dan McIntyre


The boys also established or tied PRs and school records.  Leading the way was senior Rob Prignano who tied the school record in the 55m high hurdles with a time of 8.21.  New PRs were set by senior Tim Burns in the 800m (2:01.4); freshman Dan McIntyre in the 400m (57.8) and 200m (25.6); sophomore Dave Kratzer in the 200m (24.4); junior Corey Haynes in the 400m (57.3) and 200m (25.1); sophomore Kevin McCormick (2:15.2) and freshman Brendan Ferris (2:23.8) in the 800m run; and sophomore Ricky Okoye (39-0), Shaun Baker (29-2), and freshman Dillon White (32-6) in the shot put .  Senior Theo Lusardi took sixth place in the shot put with a throw of 49-4.5, while classmate Mike Gaus tied his PR in the pole vault with a vault of 10-6.


This meet represents the end of the indoor season for the young athletes.  Varsity athletes who have qualified have the NJ Meet of Champions, the Eastern Regionals, and the NSIC National Meets left on their winter season schedule.


Pope John Results


Complete Girls Results


Complete Boys Results


Hall of Fame Classic Photo Gallery (Go to images 37 & 38)


PJ Photo Gallery



Girls Have Great Day At Meet of Champions

Bariexca Wins 800; Heigis and Carollo Place Third; 4 x 400 Relay Take Second


JOHN BENNETT ATHLETIC CENTER, TOMS RIVER, NJ (February 24 & 25, 2007) - For the first time in many years the NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions was held over the course of two days, the girls competing on Saturday and the boys on Sunday.  The change was necessitated by the move from Jadwyn Gym on the campus of Princeton University to the new indoor John Bennett Athletic Center in Toms River.  Most fans and participants were very happy with the new accommodations, and based on the results from Saturday, the girls took to the new surroundings very well.


The day started off in the best way possible for the girls when senior Lauren Bariexca became the first girl to win an All-Groups championship in Pope John history  when she won the 800m run.  This race was a nail-biter, with Lauren and two other girls battling for the win right up to the finish line.  Prior to the meet Bariexca's name wasn't mentioned as a potential winner - virtually all of the attention was focused on Arianne Neutts of Roxbury, who finished second today.  The difference was in the planning.  Lauren stuck to the game plan fashioned by Head Coach Brian Corcoran to the T, biding her time by staying on Neutts' shoulder until she passed her at the 300m mark.  But there was no quit in Neutts, she broke back at the top of the final straightaway.  Lauren hung-in, and when Neutts gave her an opportunity to pass on the inside, Bariexca took full advantage, sprinting back on top with about 20m to go in the race.  From there, Bariexca sprinted through the finish line to take the gold medal and assuring herself a permanent place in Pope John Track history.  When asked about her accomplishment, Lauren said, "It is an honor to be the first girl in Pope John history to win an indoor championship, especially when you think about all of the great girls that came before me and that I run with now."  Bariexca went the 800m in 2:15.24, with Neutts second in 2:15.84.  Jahlisa Smith of Plainfield, another pre-meet favorite, finished third with a time of 2:16.21.


In the next race, the 400m, sophomore Emily Carrollo placed third in a very deep field.  The favorites going into the race were defending champion Kristin Mahon of Notre Dame, and Symone O'Connor of Piscataway.  Freshman English Gardner of Eastern also had to be considered a favorite having run the fastest time in the state group meets.  The race was very tight with the entire field passing the 200m mark as a pack.  Carrollo, running the race of her life, moved to the outside just after crossing the line, passing Mahon who was boxed on the inside.  Disaster then struck for Mahon.  It a flash she stumbled to the track, taking out Leslie Njoku of McNair Academic in the process.  From there it was a three girl race with Carrollo, Gardner, and O'Connor battling for the next 100 meters.  At the top of the final stretch, Gardner found another gear to take the race in 56.29, leaving Emily and O'Connor to battle for second place.  In the end O'Connor was too big and too strong enabling her to place second in 56.74, with Carrollo finishing third in 57.72.  As it turned out, this would be just the first medal for Carrollo today - another was in the offing.


The 3200m was next on the order of events, and the Lions had two girls qualified to run.  First, sophomore Sarah Cariati ran a great race in the unseeded section of the event, taking 12th place in a time of 11:15.77, a new PR for this very talented young lady.  In the seeded section, senior Lara Heigis was set to face state record holder Ashley Higginson of Colts Neck and Theresa Cattuna of Cherry Hill East.  Simply said, the race was a tour de force for Higginson.  Leading from start to finish, running the entire race by herself, Higginson smashed her own meet record by running a time of 10:26.53.  The battle was for second between Cattuna and Heigis, where Lara hung in until the last 600 meters.  The greatest female distance runner in PJ history, was forced to take third in a time of 10:57.25.


The last race of the day was the 4 x 400 relay, where the team of sophomores Sarah Bieganousky and Emily Carrollo, joined by seniors Tara Downing and Alex Bush, would enter the race as one of the favorites.  They lived up to the pre-meet hype, placing second to East Orange Campus who  finished in a time of 3:59.03 to the Lions' 3:59.87.  Bieganousky led off the race in a split of 59.8, giving Downing a lead of about 5 meters.  It was here that "TD" ran the race of her life.  Not fond of the 400m distance, Tara was not going to give up the lead.  Instead she increased it by a few meters running a PR split of 60.2.  On the third leg, Alex Bush battled for the lead with the East Orange girl, delivering the stick to anchor Emily Carrollo in a virtual dead heat.  Bush split in a time of 61.9.  Carrollo then did her thing.  Always a fierce competitor, Emily took on 55m hurdle champion Racquel Vassell.  The race was nip and tuck until the very last 20 meters, when Vassell edged Carrollo for the win.


By all standards it was a great day for the girls, taking placements in all four events in which they were entered.


The results were not as lofty for the boys when they competed on Sunday.  Although all of them gave valiant efforts, it was not their best efforts.  Junior Jon Juleus ran in the first event of the day, the 1600m.  He finished twenty-first in a time of 4:34.55.  In the high jump, fellow junior Chris Thomas finished in a nine-way tie for 12th place, clearing only the opening height of 6-0.  In the 800m run, senior Clay Smith finished in 18th place in a time of 2:01.32.  Finally, senior Jeremy Scheid placed twenty-first in the 3200m run with a time of 9:49.54.


Varsity athletes who have qualified will compete in the Eastern States Invitational in Tuesday evening, February 27, at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City.


Eastern States Invitational Report: Girls Break NJ 4 x 800 Record

By Alexandra Bush

ARMORY TRACK & FIELD CTR., NYC (February 27, 2007) - Oh what a night!  The 2007 Eastern States Championships is arguably the greatest meet in the history of the Pope John Girls� Track and Field program.  With Four school records, two New Jersey #1�s and one New Jersey State Record, the performances at the meet exceeded the expectations of all coaches, alumni, athletes and spectators. 

The evening started with a bang with the performance of the magnificent Katherine Ozmeral (Oz) in the triple jump.  After missing two weeks with shin splints this young lady jumped 33-1.5 to smash her own school record by an astounding 9.5 inches.  Not to be outdone in the horizontal jumps, freshman Melanie O�Connor eclipsed current Gettysburg athlete Sam Spence�s 2003 long jump record with a leap of 16-9.5, an exceptional one foot PR.  The greatness, however, was not relegated to the infield, it also showed up on the track. 

Firing up the track first was the 4 x 200m relay of senior Tara Downing (26.3), senior Alex Bush (27.9), junior Caitlyn Lees (27.9), and O�Connor (27.4) who combined to run a solid time of 1:49.62.  With the track warmed up, it began to sizzle when the girls� 4 x 800m relay stepped on.  Utilizing the combined talents of senior Lauren Bariexca (2:16.5), sophomore Sarah Cariati (2:18.6), sophomore Emily Carrollo (2:14.9), and senior Lara Heigis (2:16.8), the race was sure to be hot.  Displaying great tenacity and unyielding urgency, the quartet blazed to a time of 9:06.94 claiming both a school record and, for the first time in Pope John history, a New Jersey state record.  Their performance bettered the great 1997 Columbia High School time of 9:08.34.  Their time is currently ranked #2 in the United States and is the 10th fastest time ever run in indoor national history. 

And if that was not enough, the girls� 4 x 400m relay still had to go.  And the record books would change once again.  The team of sophomore Sarah Bieganousky (58.5), Downing (1:00.7), Bush (1:01.2), and Carrollo (58.1) broke their own one week old school record , running a time of 3:58.59 to become the #1 ranked team in New Jersey.  Bieganousky�s split of 58.5 was a personal best. 

On the boys� side, junior Chris Thomas earned an Easterns medal in the high jump with a sixth place leap of 6-2.  The 4 x 800m relay of junior Jon Juleus and seniors Rob Lennon, Tim Burns, and Clay Smith finished in 8th place in 8:10.26, while senior Jeremy Scheid finished 10th in the two mile run. 

The teams step back on the track and high jump apron at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships on March 9, 10, and 11 at the New York City Armory.

Pope John Girls Shine at NSIC: Twelve New All-Americans Cited

ARMORY TRACK & FIELD CENTER, NYC (March 9 - 11, 2007) - In what has to be the greatest weekend in PJ Girls Track & Field history, the five relay teams placed no lower than seventh in the nation in their respective races.  The top six finishers in each event earn All-American honors.  Kudos to the Sprint Medley Relay team (2nd); the Distance Medley Relay team (6th); the 4 x 1 mile team (5th); and the 4 x 800 team (3rd).  In the process, several new PJ records, and one NJ record were set.  Arguably, the performance of these young Lions is the greatest overall team effort in NJ history.


The SMR team started off the long weekend with a bang on Friday afternoon.  Senior Tara Downing, joined with junior Caitlyn Lees and sophomores Sarah Bieganousky and Emily Carollo to place second in an event that is traditionally dominated by larger, urban schools.  Three of the four legs ran a personal best.  Though Downing's 26.5 200m split was her PR, it was an outstanding opening leg, that was followed by Lees' 27.5 PR 200m leg.  Both girls left everything on the track, giving the sophomores a great chance to bring home the gold - and both Bieganousky with her 400m leg and Carollo with her 800m leg meant to bring the loot home.  Bieganously ran a scorching 57.2, giving the stick to Carollo in a virtual dead heat with Benjamin Cardozo of Brooklyn and the Motor City Track Club of Detroit.    When all was said and done, Cardozo won with a time of 4:01.30; PJ was second in a new school record of 4:03.69, and Motor City placed third with a time of 4:05.11.  Carollo had a tremendous leg, running her 800m anchor in 2:12.5


Tara Downing Caitlyn Lees
Sarah Bieganousky Emily Carrollo



Downing and Lees were probably the two happiest girls in the Armory following the receipt of their medals.  Tara now can share an All-American moment with her brother, Bryan Downing '05, another PJ Track All-American currently attending Manhattan College; while Caitlyn can look back at her career and remember just how far she has come from her injury-plagued freshman year to All-American junior.  There were lots of tears of joy and smiles and slaps on the back that display the real meaning of athletics at the high school level. 


Next up on Friday was the DMR, featuring a tremendous array of talented teams from across the nation including a trio of outstanding NY teams: Bay Shore from Long Island; Burnt-Hills from Ballston Spa in the Adirondacks; and Carmel from Dutchess County.  Always tough, Lasalle of Cincinnati, OH, also was entered.  Despite the formidable competition, the Lions' team of seniors Lauren Bariexca, Alex Bush, and Lara Heigis, joined by super soph Sarah Cariati, ran to a sixth place finish in a time of 12:04.1.  Bariexca, Cariati, and Bush all ran outstanding legs in the 1200m, 800m, and 400m legs respectively, while Heigis ran a game 1600m anchor leg to bring the girls a second All-American relay in less than two hours.  Eventual champion, Bay Shore, featured a tremendous lead-off 1200m leg from 800m champion Sarah McCurdy.  The time run by the Lions girls established another school record, and gave the Lions eight All-American citations on day one.


Lauren Bariexca Alex Bush
Sarah Cariati Lara Heigis


The last relays on Friday were the trials for the 4 x 400.  In that race seniors Tara Downing and Alex Bush teamed with Bieganousky and Carrollo to run a time of 3:56.74 to qualify for the Sunday finals.


Chris Thomas was the lone Lion boy to participate in the Day One action.  His leap of 6-1.25 in the high jump gave the junior a share of 18th place in the competition.  The winner, Philip Feinberg of Chandler, AZ, jumped 7-1, the top mark in the nation this year.


Chris Thomas


Saturday was distance day, with both the boys and girls entering a team in the 4 x 1 Mile relay.  Again, the girls brought home All-American honors based on their fifth place finish.  Seniors Lauren Bariexca (5:12.8), Kelsey Murphy (5:38.2), and Lara Heigis (5:07.7), teamed with sophomore Sarah Cariati (5:16.2), a total time of 21:15.04, a new PJ school record.  Murphy earned the first All-American citation of her career, while Bariexca, Heigis, and Cariati earned their second All-American honors in two days.  This race marked another milestone in the young career of Sarah Cariati, as she continued to improve with every race.  Her split was a PR for the sophomore.


On the boys side, junior NJ Non-Public A 1600m champion, Jon Juleus led off in 4:26.8 before handing off to senior Jeremy Scheid (4:33.3), the first of a trio of seniors to run this relay.  Tim Burns (4:48.1) and Clay Smith ( 4:36.8) brought the boys home in a final time of 18:25.08 - good enough to place eleventh in the nation.


Day three of the meet was mid-distance relay day.  The girls 4 x 800m team came into the meet with the number two time in the nation, and was one of the favorites to win the championship.  With the 4 x 8 being the first race of the day, it wouldn't be long before the Lions knew whether or not they would win their first national championship.  Certainly, the girls were ready to run fast, and that they did, finishing in a new PJ record time of 9:05.97.  But at championships, times are not important.  The only matter of importance is taking home the gold; and with gold as their criterion for success, the ladies' third place finish was bittersweet.


Jon Juleus Rob Lennon
Clay Smith Jeremy Scheid


The race started off very well with NJ All-Groups champion, Lauren Bariexca, running a very fast split of 2:16.1.  That was followed by an incredible PR split of 2:15.9 by Sarah Cariati.  During her leg, Cariati earned her new nickname, "The Hunter", as she just focused her sights on catching any girl ahead of her.  To this observer, Sarah's run reminded me of a National Geographic special where a cheetah is shown running down a gazelle.  She was unrelenting in her pursuit, giving the baton to Lara Heigis in first place.  Heigis did her best to hold on to the lead, but the Purple Wave from Warwick Valley, NY and the girls from Carmel were intent on taking gold themselves.  Both teams passed Lara at the 400m mark, then extended their lead to 10 to 15m by the time the last exchange was made to Emily Carrollo.  Carrollo ran a great leg, splitting in 2:13.7, but it was not enough to overtake the Carmel anchor who ran an amazing 2:07 point .  Carmel's time of 8:59.85 was the fastest time run in the nation this year and was a mere three-tenths of a second off of the meet record.


For Bariexca, Heigis, and Cariati, they were All-Americans for the third time in the weekend.  Carrollo won her second All-American honor with the 4 x 400 finals still to come.


The boys 4 x 800 squad of Jon Juleus, Rob Lennon, Clay Smith, and Jeremy Scheid ran 8:21.98 to finish in the thirty-third position.


Bottom Row (L to R): Caitlyn Lees, Alex Bush, Sarah Bieganousky, Tara Downing

Top Row: Lauren Bariexca, Sarah Cariati, Emily Carrollo, Lara Heigis


The 4 x 400 finals for girls was the last track event of the meet, and the team of Tara Downing (59.4), Sarah Bieganousky (58.5), Alex Bush (1:00.6), and Emily Carrollo (57.2) were hoping to make the NSIC an All-American weekend for all five relay teams.  Unfortunately, despite running a great relay and setting a new PJ record of 3:55.78, the girls finished in seventh place, a mere seven tenths of a second behind the team from East Oakland, CA.


Without a doubt, this was the greatest performance by a girls team in PJ indoor track history.  Arguably, it is the greatest team performance by any team in NJ history.  What a great way to conclude the indoor season and to step into the spring.  Let's all celebrate these performances at the Winter Track Banquet on Friday, March 31st.

Pope John Results

Complete Results

Winter Season Concludes with Post-Season Honors

POPE JOHN HS (April 1, 2007) - This indoor season could arguably be described as the most successful in school history.  Obviously, then, it should come as no surprise that the teams and individual athletes have been singled out for many post-season honors.  The table that follows lists all team and individual awards and provides links to the original newspaper or internet sources where those honors were first published.

2006 - 2007 Indoor Track Post-Season Honors

Name Award