Hackensack's premier track & field club, MySprintClub, had another excellent year. In its grand finale at the AAU National Junior Olympic Games held in Norfolk, Virginia (8/2-8/8/2015), the club captured two Olympic medals and ten "Top 50" national finishers to go along with over 20 medals won at the AAU New Jersey District Championship in June.
Despite injury to the club's top sprinter Adrian Taffe (13U division) at nationals, 11U division athletes Shamali-Kalil Whittle and Claude Shepherd picked up the slack and took their excellent track season onto the national stage, where Whittle and Shepherd finished third (25.79sec) and 32nd (27.37sec) respectively, both in personal best times. Whittle also snatched another medal in the 100m final, finishing seventh overall. Prior to nationals, the two athletes captured ten medals (including six gold) at both the AAU NJ Districts and Regional Championships.
Academic and throwing standouts Alyssa Campbell and Jordan Somerville showed MySprintClub's versatility. The straight A students followed up their state and regional field event dominance with personal best on the national stage. In the Shot Put event (12U division), Campbell, the NJ state champion, finished ninth overall while Somerville finished 40th. Campbell and Somerville also finished 13th and 21st overall in the Discus event, to be among the nation's best in the throwing events.
MySprintClub's other national qualifiers were also in action. Michael Fullman, NJ district's Discus gold medalist, performed admirably in the Shot Put and Discus events (13U division) despite a hamstring injury, finishing in the nation's "top 50" in Shot Put.
Meanwhile, Kera Taffe put forth a gallant effort in the girl's Long Jump event (9U division), finishing 27th overall in a jump of 11'2", just short of her bronze medal performance at state district championship, where she jumped 11'4" and regional championship, where she jumped 11’3” for silver medal .
According to head coach Horace Taffe, "I am extremely pleased with the progress made by all the athletes, probably more so than with all the medals we won." Indeed, most athletes saw impressive improvements throughout the season, led by 10-year-old sprinter Gina Rubio, highlighted by her 200m progression (38sec down to 32.03sec) and 400m progression (1:41.23sec down to 1:18.10sec).
Other athletes celebrating significant improvements included 14 years old sprinters Gianna Suriano and newcomer Kimberly Campbell, who both shaved their 100m times significantly to 13.62 and 13.51 respectively. Both athletes finished amongst the best in NJ, with Campbell and Suriano finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively at district championship.
While promising sprinter Roland Hunt (12U division) had to stop his season short due to growing pains shortly after securing two silver medals at districts trials, 9 year old newcomer Jalen Balbueno developed well throughout the year highlighted by his silver medal performance in the 200m at states. Even late addition Michael Marte got in on the action. After just a month's work, the 10-year-old speedster ran a personal best 14.50sec in the 100m (3rd place) at the H.O.N.O.R.S. meet in Somerville, NJ.
The team also enjoyed relay success, winning gold at the Icahn Relays in April in the boys 4x100m (11-12 division), where Elijah Somerville teamed up with Hunt, Shepherd and Whittle for the win.
Overall, the club captured over 40 medals at the AAU and USATF championship levels, including twelve gold medals, and it finished 2015 with 14 "Top 100" Elite Youth National rankings. Indeed, coach Taffe was pleased with his team's performance this year, including the commitment by the parents and the family atmosphere created by all its supporters.
According to Taffe, the team will continue to focus on growth in physical and mental capabilities and plans to highlight the 2016 track & field season with trips to Ann Arbor, Michigan (March) and Houston, Texas (7/27-8/6/16).