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3rd Perfect Season for Hopatcong Track

Capwell, Olugbenga lead Chiefs to another flawless season.

The boys track team isn't perfect.

But try telling that to the standings.

The Chiefs finished their third straight undefeated season Thursday with a road win over formidable Newton. The victory gave Hopatcong a 6-0 finish and its third consecutive Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Freedom Division crown.

"It's a good feeling," senior sprinter Feyi Olugbenga said.

Hopatcong has won its last 20 dual meets with a cast of state-level talent and hard-training athletes. And in the past 26 years head coach Mike Juskus has been at the helm, the Chiefs have recorded 20 winning seasons.

"Buying into the system" has helped Hopatcong maintain its winning ways, Juskus said.

"I try to teach the kids that it's positivity, confidence and leadership that breeds," he said. "And it also goes the other way. When you have negative leaders, people that don't buy into the program or commitment, you're going to breed that."

Olugbenga agreed.

"Juskus keeps us together," he said. "He's a good coach. He keeps us motivated and knows how to keep us going."

"When it comes to working, most of us work hard to get where we are. Absolutely."

Olugbenga would know a little bit about hard work. Juskus said Olugbenga and junior runner Dylan Capwell have bolstered the program this spring.

Capwell, one of the state's top middle-distance runners, finished 11th in the 800-meter run in at last year's Meet of Champions. He could return to represent Hopatcong at New Jersey's most prestigious meet, Juskus said.

"It's hard to say we expect bigger things of him," the head coach said, "because to be the top Meet of Champions winner, it's tough."

Olugbenga has also been a force on the track, during meets and practice. The senior has a chance at reaching the group championships in the 110 hurdles, Juskus said.

"He's probably one of the best leaders I've seen in years here," the head coach said. "I don't ever have a team captain. That's my policy. But every now and then you get a kid with such leadership ability that kids respect. He's that guy."

The 2012 season shouldn't be Hopatcong's last atop the NJAC Freedom Division standing any time soon, Juskus said. With just Olugbenga and senior Austin Brown, a strong shot putter, graduating, Juskus said a strong sophomore class, including distance runner Chris Dugan and Stephen Rogers, should buoy the Chiefs.

"We've got a nice sophomore crew," Juskus said. "We'll just keep breeding them."

Willa Scantlebury May 08, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Congratulations! Awesome job Chief's Track team and Coach Juskus! Shout out to Dave Barnish and the Hawks track program too for feeding the program and the start of the "breeding!"
genesko May 08, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Making them train in WORK-BOOTS... now THAT's hard core. Great job Boys! Keep up the hard work through post-season!

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