EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Two years ago, the idea of winning two Group 1 championships was a dream to Kaitlin Salisbury.
On Friday, the dream came true.
An understudy to Jenna Dyksen last year, Salisbury stepped up for Hawthorne in 2015. She posted a 12.12 – not far off the meet record of 11.89 – to win the 100 and an 18-5 to capture the long jump at the state group meet at Egg Harbor Township High School.
“Last year Jenna was a role model for me,” Salisbury said. “Beating her records showed me how I’ve improved mentally and physically. I felt great going in, and I even had a good breakfast, which is unusual.”
Ironically, Salisbury did not like her starts in the 100 trials nor finals.
“I’m used to our blocks, and we had to use [Egg Harbor’s], which isn’t like most other meets,” she said. “They were not the same. But I finished well. I did like my long jump. I thought an 18 was good going in, so it felt great to hit that today.”
Salisbury, a junior, broke several of the school records Dyksen set as a senior in 2014.
“I’m so pumped for [today] after the two wins,” she said. “There’s pressure in being the first seed, but that just makes me work harder.”
Salisbury was not the only girls Group 1 star. Jillian DiGiacinto has been a significant part of Hasbrouck Heights’ team success, but Friday was an individual display.
DiGiacinto extended her undefeated run in the intermediate hurdles with a 1:03.38 and placed sixth in the 400 with a 59.41.
Coach Rob Brady had high expectations for her entering the season, but she ended up being a revelation.
“She’s having a great season, undefeated in the intermediates this year,” Brady said. “It’s great to see her come through, help the team and help herself.
“Groups are a weird meet because you never know how many points it’ll take to win. Our girls have a real good chance for a top-three [finish], and Jillian is an important part of that.”
Queen of Peace’s Natalie Negroni followed last weekend’s two sectional wins with her first Non-Public B gold in the intermediate hurdles (1:05.41).
“I think Natalie could win the [high] hurdles [today],” coach Nick Mazzolla said. “Due to luck of the draw, her events are spread out really well, and she’s got plenty of time between events.”
Other area winners included Secaucus’ Carleisha Forteau, Eastern Christian’s Lyndsey Smith and Hackensack’s Amarys Berry.
Forteau had a 58.15 in the Group 4 girls’ 400 to beat Saddle Brook’s Tajia Lagomarsino by .45. Smith won the Non-Public B 400 in 58.72. Berry tossed a 42-8 1/2 to win the Group 4 shot put.