June 1, 2022

Featuring Jean-Marie’s Brilliance, Slew of Personal Bests, Stuart Track Finishes 3rd at Prep B State Championships

FLYING HIGH: Stuart Country Day School track star Giselle Jean-Marie flies to victory in the 100-meter hurdles at the Prep B state outdoor championship meet last week. Sophomore Jean-Marie also placed first in the high jump, triple jump, and shot put at the meet to help Stuart finish third in the team standings. (Photo by Kevin Broughton, provided courtesy of Len Klepack)

By Bill Alden

Although the Stuart Country Day School track team didn’t place first at the Prep B state outdoor championship meet last week, the Tartans still produced a winning effort.

With numerous Stuart athletes achieving personal bests, the squad finished a strong third in the team standings, piling up 71 points as Montclair Kimberley tallied 111 to win the title with Villa Walsh coming in second at 71.50.

Heading into the competition which was held on May 23 at Newark Academy, Stuart head coach Len Klepack wasn’t sure how his young squad would perform under the pressure of a state meet, especially since there hadn’t been a Prep B state outdoor championship meet since 2019.

“I was hoping to finish in the top five; we knew Giselle Jean-Marie would get a lot of points but other people reached new levels for us,” said Klepack of sophomore standout Jean-Marie who ended up scoring a lot of points for the Tartans, placing first in the high jump, triple jump, shot put, and 100-meter hurdles.

“They all just did what you want as a coach, we want them to try to be their best and is basically that is what happened.”

Over the course of the spring, the Stuart athletes patiently went about their business with an eye to peaking in May.

“They worked hard, they progressed,” said Klepack. “They bought into that philosophy that we are not doing as well early in the season but we are telling them stay with it. Track and field is a May sport, the weather and the preparation are big factors. You prepare, you get the proper weather, and you are in the proper venue or environment; when you have those three things come together, you can feel good about yourselves because you are prepared. That is what they understood and they applied it.”

Things came together for Jean-Marie as she produced her spectacular four-win performance.

“We thought she was capable of doing very well; it is very difficult to win four events, you have to navigate from one event to the other,” said Klepack of Jean-Marie, who had marks of 5’2 in the high jump, 33’6.25 in the triple jump, 32’9.50 in the shot put, and 16.71 in the 100-meter hurdles.

“In the Mercer County Classic a couple of weeks ago, we put her in the pentathlon and she finished second. There she learned how to focus. When one event is over, block out everything and you go on to the next event.”

In Klepack’s view, Jean-Marie has just scratched the surface of her potential.

“You have to consider that as one of the great performances in school history,” said Klepack, noting
that Jean-Marie is also a
volleyball standout. “There is a lot of room for growth because a lot of her events are technical. You don’t mature until your junior or senior years. She has a lot of natural talent, she will improve as she gets more technically sound.”

The team’s core of seniors showed growth. Senior Trinity Broughton took fourth in the 400 in 1:03.68 while classmate Jadyn Piotrowski placed fifth in 1:03.81 in the event as they both achieved personal bests. They combined with another senior, Noelia Manion, to help the 4×100 relay place sixth. Manion, for her part, took first in the pole vault. Senior Sonya Jin took eighth in
the javelin.

“There was a lot of unity even though it was a young group, our senior leaders moved to a different level,” said Klepack. “Trinity and Jadyn never missed a practice, they were leading by example. They work real hard and it shows. The story of the meet is that they moved to a different level. If you train and prepare for opportunities, when opportunity is there, your preparation gives you a chance to take advantage of it.”

Featuring a number of young performers who rose to the occasion last week, it looks like Stuart has the opportunity to take things to a higher level in the future.

“We have a young team, there is a lot of potential,” said Klepack, whose team will welcome back junior Angelina Diaz, along with sophomores Jean-Marie and Sarah Glickson and a strong freshman group including Nyla Flamer, Capucine Baudoin, Nana Larry, Lola Lopez-Spencer, Eliska Bohmanova, Sanaya Grant, Juliette Vergara, and Mizan Chennault. “There is a solid core across all events.”