Hillsborough girls’ track team sprinting to spring championships

It is barely even trophy season for the 2019 spring track and field campaign.

But the Hillsborough High School girls’ team is already winning titles.

On April 13 at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, Hillsborough won the Skyland Conference Relays championship in the 2 Big Delaware Raritan Division. The Raiders outscored eight other schools with a team total of 98.

On April 20 at Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, Hillsborough triumphed in the Somerset County Relays championship. Coach Rich Refi’s team tied for first place with host Ridge. Both schools earned a team score of 120.

Refi’s Raiders were not finished yet, either.

Five days after the Somerset County Relays, on April 25 at the Penn Relays  in Philadelphia, four of Hillsborough’s fastest runners broke a school record in the 4×800-meter relay.

Sophomore Kirstyn Schechter, sophomore Sia Mahajan, junior Lara Leitz and senior Jenny Tavares combined to run a 9:32.21. Each runner completed her 200-meter stretch in 2:25.00 or less.

The school’s previous record was a 9:33.29, set back in 2009.

“I just put together four girls who I thought could run the fastest,” Refi said. “I didn’t expect a school record.”

It was a team effort, just like Hillsborough’s victories in the Skyland and Somerset County relay meets.

“It’s a very good team,” Refi said via text message. “2 for 2 in championship meets!”

There are plenty more championship meets to come, too, like the NJSIAA sectional, group and Meet of Champions events in May and early June. And the Raiders should be formidable in those meets as well.

Refi has talent across his roster. It showed at the Skyland relays, the Somerset County relays and even at the Penn Relays with a lot more teams from a much wider geographical range.

At Skyland, Hillsborough won behind a trio of first place finishes. Leitz took first in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.34. Senior dynamo Symone Marsh placed first in the discus event and in the shot put event. Marsh recorded a distance of 100-7 in the discus and a 38-11.75 in the shot put.

In the Somerset championship, Hillsborough dominated. The Raiders won the 4×100 shuttle hurdle relay, the 4×200 Meter Relay and the 4×400 Meter Relay.

Refi’s track standouts also earned first place ribbons in four individual events.

Schechter won the high jump with a 5-4. Marsh again owned the shot put with a 37-5. Junior Shelsea Rigby lapped the competition in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:07.60. And junior Jessica Sutter earned first in the javelin with a distance of 106-9.

“Depth really helps us,” Refi said. “There are a lot of good athletes on our team who can score.”

The Raiders actually did even better against county opponents than they did versus conference rivals, an impressive feat. Their challenge moving forward will be to build on their fast start to the spring championship season.

They almost certainly will not continue to bat 1.000 in trophy meets. But the highlights, for 2019 and perhaps even for program history too, are probably not over yet, either. Not with talents like Schechter and Marsh leading the way.

“We’re going to be competitive at every meet we go to,” Refi said of his team.