Old Tappan is making its mark early in the season

NEW YORK – Anyone who was at the Armory Track and Field Center for the Spiked Shoe Invitational a couple of weeks ago got to see a lot of blue and gold.

All-County sprinter Maxine McConnell jogged around with her Virginia Commonwealth Track & Field backpack, cheering on her high school training partner, Golden Knights senior Caity Ubl.

Senior pole vaulter Lauren Bilali is finally healthy and looking forward to an injury-free season. She cleared 10'6 at the Spiked Shoe Invitational.

michael karas /staff photographer
Golden Knights senior Marc Reinas ran an impressive 4:25.4 in the 1,600-meter race at the Spiked Shoe Invitational.

Alyssa Casamento was there too, clad in her Carnegie Mellon T-shirt and swinging her Old Tappan lanyard around on the infield near Old Tappan assistant coach Jeff Clark.

Last year’s champion pole vaulters, Marc Ocampo and Luke Annichiarico, caught up with the rest of their old squad near the vaulting pit. Many alumni came back to the armory track to watch their former team compete in their first meet since some of them graduated last June.

And they certainly witnessed great performances.


Senior Lauren Bilali has been waiting since 2012 to be completely healthy for a track and field season and now she is finally at that point. Bilali took up pole vaulting in the spring of her freshman year after a childhood of competitive cheerleading and quickly became an integral part of the varsity jumps team, though she has only recently been able to say that her knees are cooperating with her training.

In her season opener, she cleared 10’6 and placed second in pole vault, breaking the indoor school record that Giana Abballe set in 2010 and Maddy Lucas tied in 2012.

Bilali already shares the outdoor record with Abballe, but feels excited to finally have a record of her own, even if she considers 10’6 a small step towards winning titles.

“The coaches have been talking to me about these records since I was a freshman,” Bilali said of her Spiked Shoe performance. “And it is extremely important to me that I have already been able to get one [during] indoor because I have so much time left in the year.

“At the meet, I was actually aiming on going higher, to 11 feet, but I was competing in triple jump (where she ended up placing sixth) at the same time I was taking my pole vault attempts. But still, here it is, finally happening to me, and I am really pumped about what’s to come.”


On the track senior Marc Rienas won the varsity 1600-meter run against formidable competitors from Christian Brothers Academy, Indian Hills and Brewster, NY. He hit his stride and led early on in the race but calmly stuck with the front pack when passed in the final lap. At the very end, he decisively overtook everyone and posted a 4:25.4.

This means that Rienas already sits dangerously close to Alex Weiner’s indoor school record of 4:23.76 just one week into what promises to be an exciting senior campaign.

The rest of head coach Pete Dunn’s squads performed strongly for such an early season meet and have a lot to look forward to.

“We’re so close and everyone’s already throwing out times that we never expected,” Bilali said. “Caity [Ubl], Taylor [Parcells] and I are so into team bonding and bringing in the freshmen and I feel like we have all already gotten so close. We can’t wait for the [league meet] and to be able to compete together.”




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