The Jefferson Falcons hosted the annual Unified Track meet on Wednesday, May 29. Although inclement weather was a burden on the scheduled events, it did not ruin the day.
Unified Track is a growing sport that combines two groups of people to create friendships and teammates while trying something new. Each event is attempted by two partners whose scores are combined to determine the winner. Since coming to Jefferson Township High School, the sport has quickly bloomed into a great tradition.
Unlike traditional sports, Unified Track “brings together two groups and unifies them as one. It gives everyone a chance to compete and work together,” said Katelyn Cannarozzi, physical education teacher and Unified Track coach. “The friendships and camaraderie that you wouldn’t normally see form so often in Unified, which makes it unique.” She also noted the benefits to the community. “Everyone comes and watches them jump, run, and throw, and today was a great example. The rain could have stopped people, but so many still showed up and rooted for everyone, which is something you don’t always see.”
Five schools joined the home team, Jefferson, for the meet: Boonton, Morristown, Newton, Pequannock, and Vernon. Due to space limitations in the two high school gymnasiums and wrestling room, the meet’s four events were shot put, javelin, long jump, and shuttle run relay.
In an exciting shot put competition, two hometown kids, Paul Monaco and Kiko Mina, took second place. First place was awarded to Boonton. “It’s a completely different atmosphere,” said Monaco, a senior, on the difference between Unified Track and other sports. “It’s awesome to have a different group of athletes and having the town come out to cheer and support everyone.” He expressed admiration for his partner. “Kiko is such a great kid. He’s an amazing athlete and I just love everything about him.”
In the javelin throw, Jefferson students placed third (Robert Peterson and Brian Vasallo) and first (Pat Catania and Ryan Stevens). A group from Boonton took second. In the long jump, it was all Boonton as they were awarded the top spots with three different duos. Jefferson did not place in the relay. Newton took third, Boonton second, and Morristown first.
The overall champion of the meet was Boonton, winning two events and placing second in three. The meet ended with a sportsmanship award given to the most uplifting and positive town in attendance, and Newton claimed that title.
The new culture in the sport of Unified Track is bringing together people from very different groups, leading to friendships that otherwise may never have been possible.