Andy Washnikâ€™s spirit could be felt all over the NJIC Patriot B division meet Tuesday at Overpeck Park.
Of course it was in the girls meet when Park Ridge rolled to an 87-point win over Emerson and the first B title. After all, Washnik was an assistant coach for the Owls before his death from cancer April 16 and his wife, Connie, is the long-time, beloved coach of Park Ridge.
But his spirit also was with the Emerson boys, a 163 1/2-151 1/2 winner over New Milford in division B. Emerson coach Bruce Benny, himself a cancer survivor, wore the PR/E T-shirt produced by the combined Emerson/Park Ridge cross-country team last fall in memory of Washnik and to honor the close relationship between the two teams.
“Winning this meet means to everything to me,” said Ashley Mennitti, one of three Park Ridge captains. “I didnâ€™t [earn a personal record] here like I wanted to, but I won the shot and discus for him, for my team and for myself. He would have been proud of us.”
“Itâ€™s the unity of team with him and with Coach Washnik,” said Kristen Gray, also a double winner. “He was my pole vault coach and I jumped a personal best of [8 feet, 6 inches] looking into the sunset and thinking of him.”
Jackie Guglielmo, the third captain who scored 24 points for the Owls, said, “He taught me how to be a team player and I know heâ€™s here with us.”
Emerson had a second inspiration written on the wrist of every Cavo athlete. They wore AP for Andrew De La Paz, a pole vaulter seriously injured last month in practice who is out for the season but was present to watch his team.
“Itâ€™s been a very sobering week for us,” said Benny. “The loss of Andy was difficult and the concern for our injured athlete made it even harder. But itâ€™s our first league championship in 20 years and that lightens the mood.”
“We were able to score two and three people in most of the events. And Iâ€™m thrilled that my son Eric won the first event (400 hurdles) and anchored us to win in the last event.”
Cresskill swept the two A meets, winning the boys by 35 and the girls by 29, both over New Milford.
“This was a great overall team effort,” said boys coach Rich Miller. “I couldnâ€™t be prouder of these kids and the efforts they put out.”
The boys were led by Dorian Slavov, who impressively doubled the shot put (53- 1/2) and discus (156-6), and Paul Yun, who won the long jump and scored in four events.
“I knew we would score around 180 points but I didnâ€™t want to tell the girls,” said Cresskill girls coach Mike Pasciuto.
Cresskill scored 66 of a possible 72 points in the throws.
Kaleb Zuidema of Midland Park won the javelin with a throw of 214-7, tops in New Jersey this year. Mel Lewis, also of Midland Park, ran 63.4 seconds for the 400-meter hurdles, also the fastest in the state this year. Other top performances included 100-200-400 triples by Khadijah Cox of New Milford and Steven Roth of Waldwick, and Park Ridgeâ€™s Rebecca Skovira tripled the 200-400 and javelin and anchored a 4:09.9 4-x-400 relay.
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