Ramapo girls win Bergen B title for Landel by Paul Schwartz of The Record
OLD TAPPAN – Bill Manzo met with his Ramapo team Saturday morning, to prepare for the second day of the Red Littler Bergen County Group Championships. It was no ordinary meeting.
“It was at this race last year with the weather rainy and a little cold that I watched Ben race for the last time,’’ said Manzo. “And I said to the team let’s not ignore what today means.’’
Ben of course, was the late Ben Landel, who passed away on Jan. 25 at the age of 18 from a rare and virulent form of cancer.
The Ramapo girls team entered the day in first place and the boys were second in the B division of the meet and the teams held their positions with fine performances Saturday, with the girls earning their first divisional title since 2013 and the boys earning their best finish since taking second in Group 3 in 1964 and 1965.
“In a lot of ways this week was the roughest for all of us since Ben died,’’ said Manzo. “They’ve pulled together for each other all year and we needed to talk about it before today’s meet. It wasn’t for inspiration but for a way for us recognize that he’s still part of us.’’
Landel had placed fifth in the 1,600 the day before and then started the 3,200 on Saturday.
“But he had to step off the track in the middle of the race because his lungs were hurting so badly,” Manzo remembered.
Within two weeks Landel received his deadly diagnosis and little more eight months later he was gone.
The Ramapo and NV/Demarest girls were in a dogfight all weekend with River Dell showing great strength in the weights and distances to stay in striking range. But the Green Raider sprint/hurdle dominance in sweeping all 7 events on track of 400 meters or less and outscoring Demarest and River Dell, 104-38-31 proved too much for either the Norsewomen or the Golden Hawks.
Sophomore Sophia Schwartz (100-400) and freshman Sophia Vernieri (200) won the sprints and state indoor hurdles champ Grace O’Shea won both the 100 and 400 hurdles. Schwartz and Emma Kinney took legs on both the 4-x-100 and 4-x-400 winning teams and Jillian LoPresti, Cortney Lander, Steph Behrens and Sarah Adams also produced big relay legs and individual points.
But fittingly, the clinching points in the 138-126 win came from field event seniors Amanda Katz (second in triple jump and pole vault) and first year javelin thrower Elena Montgomery, who won her event with a 10-foot improvement to a career best 112-3 on her final throw.
The boys chipped in too, with Mike Petrazzuollo leading the way with an easy 400 win Friday and a stunning and meet leading 1:56.98 win in his first major 800 meters race.