TASTY TIDBITS Union City girls’ harriers repeat as county champs

Memorial’s Hernandez, Prep boys also repeat; Copeland basketball tourney

A year ago, the Union City girls’ cross country program made history by winning the first-ever Hudson County Track Coaches Association championship in the school’s history.
So last week, the Soaring Eagles looked to make it two straight.
“This year was completely different from last year,” said Union City head coach Scott Emmerling. “Last year, things went pretty smoothly. This year was more of a gutsy, emotional effort. Things got a little shaky in the second mile. I saw one of my top two runners Allison Guajala rounding the corner. Allison usually runs in tandem with my other top runner Jarline Garcia. They usually finish within seconds of one another. But this time, Jarline was nowhere to be found.”
Emmerling had no idea what was going on.
“Shortly thereafter, Jarline’s cousin, Ashley Bustamante, my third runner and Emily Garcia, Jarline’s little sister, passed me and they looked visibly upset with tears in their eyes,” Emmerling said.
The two runners told Emmerling that Jarline wasn’t feeling well and stopped running. Soon after, sophomore Hailee Scarafile came close to Emmerling and appeared to be in physical discomfort.
“Things seemed to be unraveling quickly,” Emmerling said. “I finally tracked down Jarline and she was really upset. She apparently had a really bad cramp and was pretty much inconsolable.”
But things turned out to be just fine for the Soaring Eagles, as Guajala finished third overall behind this week’s Athlete of the Week Camille Bertholon of St. Dominic Academy and last year’s champ Crystal Ortiz of Hudson Catholic.
Bustamante finished sixth overall, followed by Emily Garcia in seventh. Cristina Cazares in 12th, Scarafile in 16th, and Niurkely Colindres in 17th place.
“It was truly a team effort,” said Emmerling, whose team captured a second straight county title, outdistancing North Bergen. “Emily Garcia was the hero of the day. She sliced a minute off her time from last week [the North Hudson championships. When I told Jarline that her little sister was the hero of the day, they tearfully embraced at the finish line. The girls showed a lot of heart in the race in the face of adversity.”
Emmerling praised his seniors.
“This senior group was special,” Emmerling said. “They’ll hand the torch to a very talented group of sophomores to carry on the tradition. I’m very indebted to my seniors for numerous seasons of cross country, indoor and outdoor track that they’ve persevered through. They’ve finally realized the potential and success they were always capable of.”…
On the boys’ side, Memorial senior Rafael Hernandez won his second straight county title by romping home in 15:48.5, 11 seconds faster than runner-up Will Delaney of St. Peter’s Prep. Delaney and teammate Brandon Parrado (who finished third) helped the Marauders to capture their second straight boys’ team title, finishing 19 points better than runner-up Memorial…
This weekend, a special boys’ basketball tournament will take place at both the Hoboken Boys & Girls Club and the Hudson County Boys and Girls Club located in downtown Jersey City, all to honor a long-time basketball coach who has touched many lives over the years.
Donald Copeland, Sr. has been coaching youth basketball in his native Jersey City for over 40 years, long before his talented son, Donald, Jr., ever played for St. Anthony, later Seton Hall and finally pro basketball.
Several of Copeland, Sr.’s players have moved on to become coaches themselves, like his son, like Bashir Mason, the head coach at Wagner where the younger Copeland is the assistant, like Dwayne Lee of FDU, Pete Cipriano of Southern University as well as Tommy Best, the girls’ coach at Lincoln and Jimmy Morley, the assistant boys’ coach at Dickinson.
“That’s the greatest thrill when you have former players who become coaches themselves,” the elder Copeland said.
Two of his products, namely Alex Mirabel, the head coach at St. Peter’s Prep, and Noel Colon, the head coach at Harrison, have organized the Donald Copeland Sr. Classic, which will take place Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. at both locations.
“This is one of the best awards I’ve ever received,” said Copeland, Sr., who was also an assistant coach under his mentor, the legendary Charlie Brown, at both Lincoln High School and Jersey City State College. “I never knew they would do something like this for me. It ranks right up there with being named to the Dickinson Hall of Fame.”
Eight boys’ teams in the seventh and eighth grade divisions will play in the tourney. Locally, St. Michael’s of Union City and Jersey City Recreation are among the teams. The championship game will be played Sunday at 1 p.m. at the downtown Jersey City Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s kind of special to have something named after you and to receive this honor,” Copeland, Sr. said. “I had Alex and Noel since they were eight years old and now they’re coaching. They’re good people as well as good coaches.”
“It’s exciting for us to do what we’re doing, to give back to him and let him know that we’re thinking of him,” said Colon.
“I never minded doing anything for the kids,” Copeland, Sr. said. “I guess they appreciated what I was able to do for them.”
We’ll have more next week on the formation of the new North Jersey Football Super Conference, which was officially introduced Wednesday, as well as the NJSIAA state playoff football pairings.
For now, local teams Union City, Weehawken, Hoboken, Hudson Catholic, Lincoln and St. Peter’s Prep will participate in the grid playoffs next week, which means the return of that pigskin prognosticator The Great Hagueini…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (6-2). 2. Lincoln (8-0). 3. Union City (5-3). 4. Hudson Catholic (7-1). 5. Hoboken (5-3)…–Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.

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