The two-hour event at the Secaucus High School track pits fourth to sixth grade boys and girls in a competition involving the softball throw, teacher ball, long jump, 50-yard dash, and relays. Third grade students attend as spectators.Twelve-year-old Huber Street student Victoria Vanoni said that since she was in Pre-K, her Alma Mater lost every year. Vanoni said she thought the team was strong in relay and long jump this year, giving them a competitive edge. "This is great, especially since it's my last year [at Huber Street School]," Vanoni said. "There was a lot of cheering, enthusiasm and support. That really helped."
Huber Street Physical Education teacher Joe Alfano said it would not have mattered to him if the team had lost to Clarendon again, as long as each student tried to do their best. Alfano, a 30-year veteran of the Secaucus school system, said the race is a tradition between the two schools for 25 years. He noted that all students get to participate, "not just the athletes."
Alfano, who is in his fourth year at the elementary school, said, "it was a standing joke that they sent me down from [Secaucus] High School to [help the kids] win this meet. It took longer than I thought it would."
But Huber Street's student dedication and will to win won out the day, according to Clarendon physical education teacher Bill Fitzgerald. The 18-year veteran teacher said, "I never won or lost a race - it's all about the kids." He said winning the race runs in cycles.
"[Huber Street] kids were spectacular - they were overpowering," Fitzgerald said. "Before Clarendon's 10-year winning streak, Huber Street won for six years."
Huber Street student teacher Joey Giordano from Kean College in Union said students worked hard during class and had a strong desire to win.
"This is a very special day for the school. It has been long overdue," Giordano said.
Clarendon sixth grader Kelly Ann Gettman said even though her school lost, she was still proud of their efforts. "I thought our score was pretty good. I was watching the races and the girls ran faster than the boys," Gettman said.
Clarendon fourth grade teacher Rob Valente said the Huber Street victory was a "tough loss" but "it was good to see the kids have fun."
"I think it was like the Red Sox edge with the Yankees. Huber Street hadn't won in over a decade," Valente said. The Boston Red Sox broke an 86-year drought against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series last year. Known as the curse of the Bambino [in reference to infamous Yankee homerun hitter Babe Ruth], the team had not won to the Yankees since 1918. Clarendon school principal Frank Merlo said he was happy to see all the students try their best and maintain good sportsmanship.
"The event was won decisively. They [Huber Street] were the better school, and that was good to see after our 10-year winning streak," said Merlo. "That is what competition is all about."
Clarendon students got a special treat after their defeat, since Tuesday was also pool day for the entire school at the Secaucus Town Pool. After a sweltering day cheering for teammates, participating in the races and enjoying intra-school competition, cooling off at the Koelle Blvd. facility quickly melted any sadness from losing.
"It was a pretty good day anyway since it was sunny. The race is fun and so is the pool - my favorite race was teacher ball [a kind of musical chairs with ball tossing]," said Clarendon sixth grader Alexandra Lentini. "We're having fun at the pool after all that."