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LHS Sports Wrap: Elkaim Defends Titles

Tennis team close to ultimate prize, baseball and volleyball still alive, track heads into Group 4 tournament.

TRACK

After great success on the local level all season, the Livingston track and field teams had a very tough test against some of the best teams outside Essex County this past weekend.

And like it's done all spring, the Lancers responded to the challenge at the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 meet at Randolph by advancing 13 athletes to the Group 4 Championships, slated for this Friday and Saturday at Old Bridge. The top six finishers in each event qualified for the Group 4 meet.

Leading the charge, as usual, for the boys was All-American Jeramy Elkaim, who pulled off a distance double for the second straight year by winning the 1,600 (4:14.83) and the 3,200 (9:22.25 as the Livingston boys finished fourth with 42 points.

"Coming into the weekend I was just hoping I could defend my titles, and I knew that wouldn't be easy with guys like Collin Frost (Randolph), Levi Jennings (Ridgewood) and Pat Rynkowski (Ridgewood),'' said Elkaim, the 3,200 winner in Group 4 and at the Meet of Champions last June.

"I was happy I was able to get both wins, and was most happy with the 1,600 because I closed in 58. It just shows that my closing speed is back in a fast race," Elkaim said.

Elkaim, who said he'll most likely run just the 3,200 this weekend, will be joined in the Group 4 meet by teammates German Valdez, Nick Fogarty, Josh Wang, Mike Lazar and Andy Jung.

Valdez, a senior, moved on in two events by placing fifth in both the triple jump (42-5 1/2) and the high jump (6-1).

After a couple agonizingly close calls, Fogarty, a junior, finally earned a spot in the Group 4 meet for the first time when he placed fourth in the 3,200 on Saturday with a personal best of 9:42.42. Fogarty was seventh last year in the 800, and seventh again this past Friday in the 1,600 in a personal best 4:20.60.

Wang, a junior, finished sixth in the discus with a 138-9, and senior pole vaulters Lazar, third at 12-6, and Jung, fifth at 12-6, also nailed down berths in the state Group 4 meet.

The Livingston girls will be sending a parade of seven girls to Old Bridge for the state meet, led by double qualifiers Shannon Kelly and Michelle Lee.

Kelly, a junior, placed fifth in both the 1,600 (5:14.56) and the 3,200 (11:40.29). Lee, a senior, took fifth in the javelin (109-4) and sixth in the discus (104-9) as Livingston scored 22 points to place eighth.

Senior Megan Kelly, fifth in the 400 hurdles in 1:08.09, freshman Taylor Rosenblum, third in the 100 in 12.93, junior Tess Ehrlich, fourth in the pole vault with a 10-0, and freshman Jennifer Su and junior Nancy Yang, who tied for fifth in the long jump at 15-11 1/2, also extended their season at least one more week with impressive performances.

At stake at the Group 4 meet this weekend is a berth in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions (June 9 at Old Bridge). The top six finishers in each event and six wild cards from the six groups combined in each event will qualify for the M of C.

BASEBALL

Livingston’s baseball team flexed its muscle as it defeated Randolph for the second time in seven days when it rolled to a 13-3 victory in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 tournament on Friday.

Lancers ace Brian Drapeau improved to 6-1, allowing seven hits and three earned runs with eight strikeouts in six innings of work. Brian Writt and John Sorrentino paced the offense for Livingston. Writt went 3-for-4 with a home run, five RBI and two runs while Sorrentino was 2-for-4 with two homers, five RBI and two runs. Jordan Farber added a 3-for-5 effort with two runs as Livingston held a 6-0 lead after its at-bat in the top of the third.

Livingston (18-7) defeated Randolph, 5-3, on May 21 during the regular season.

It will now travel to face Union City in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday. A victory there will propel Livingston into the sectional final on June 3 against either Ridgewood or Morris Knolls.

SOFTBALL

The Lady Lancers had their season come to an end in heart-breaking fashion on Thursday coming out on the short end of a 1-0 decision to Morris Knolls in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 tournament in Denville.

Livingston pitcher Jess Peslak didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the fifth inning and finished with a three-hitter with five strikeouts and two walks, each of which came in the sixth inning.

Livingston finished its season with a 15-9-1 mark. The 2011 campaign included a trip to the Essex County Tournament semifinal round where it bowed to Nutley, 4-3.

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

After an impressive showing against Harrison on Thursday, Livingston will get a chance to advance to the sectional final when it travels to play at Bayonne in a North Jersey 2, semifinal on Wednesday.

In its 25-17, 25-14 straight-set victory over Harrison, Livingston (22-5) was led by Steven Birnbaum (21 assists, three digs, two blocks, one kill), Edward Jung (16 digs, four aces, one assist), Jayson Patel (seven kills, five digs, two blocks), Thomas Scervo (five kills, five digs, two blocks), Kyle Rulka (seven kills, five blocks, one dig), David Lee (eight digs, two kills) and Allan Friedman (six kills, three blocks, two digs).

If Livingston prevails against Bayonne on Wednesday, the Lancers would face the winner of the other sectional semifinal between St. Peter’s Prep and Memorial of West New York on Friday, June 3.

TENNIS

The Lancer Tennis team received the top seed and bye through Tuesday’s first round of the NJSIAA Tournament of Champion. It will open the event on Wednesday at 3 p.m. with a match against either fourth-seeded Millburn or fifth-seeded Haddonfield. If it wins, it will compete in the final on Thursday at 3 p.m. All rounds will be played at Mercer County Park in West Windsor.

Livingston (34-0) is looking for its first overall title since 1977 and first T of C crown. The event was called the All-Groups tournament until 1992.

"We're prepared for whatever happens," first-singles player Thomas Caputo said. "The coaching have kept us very focused and we won't take anything for granted."

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