Distance runners firm up time slots

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS – The special 1,600-meter invitational field at the Aviator Relays on Friday featured some of the best middle-distance runners in North Jersey. For two of them, the result could mean participating in the biggest show for area high school athletes – the Penn Relays.

It would be wonderful, said Ramapo senior Brad Paternostro, who won with a time of 4:17.8, especially since I’ll be running track the next four years at Princeton. They go to Penn Relays every year and in college, of course, it’s a really big-time environment. And Penn Relays is the biggest track and field meet in the world. So getting the experience my senior year in high school would be really valuable and a really awesome time.

Paternostro and Lyndhurst senior Patrick Rono (4:18.5) both ran under the 4:20.0 qualifying time for the Penn Relays at Franklin Field in Philadelphia from April 28-30.

He’s got some serious wheels and I heard he likes to open really fast, said Paternostro of Rono.

Today was a little slower but it was a very good race. I knew he was there the whole time so it ended up being pretty quick in the last half-mile.

The special 1,600 invitational, organized by The Record sports writer Paul Schwartz, gave the runners a final chance to put in their bids for Penn. For Paternostro and Rono — who celebrated his 19th birthday on Friday – it would be their first trips to Penn.

I wanted to make it more affirmative that I belong there, said Paternostro, who ran a 4:19.9 during the indoor season. So today was a great opportunity to come out and run a fast time.

And when I heard Patrick was going to be in it, I was like ‘Oh great, even better.’ So coming out at [4:17.8] in the first race of the year is pretty good.

Behind big performances by Kevin Condal and Kevin Harris, Hasbrouck Heights boys won with a final score of 110 points over Rono and second-place Lyndhurst’s 56 points.

A lot of kids stepped up, Aviators coach Rob Brady said. We overcame a lot of adversity with our boys. Our shuttle [hurdles] team was disqualified, which is one of our strongest events. And one of our kids had to sit out the whole day after pulling his hamstring in a dual meet.

Not to be outdone by their counterparts, the Aviators girls team won over second-place Indian Hills.

A great win for us, Brady said.

A lot of great schools here. It’s competitive. The fact that they were able to win this championship means a lot to them and a lot to me.