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Outdoor Journal: Out-fished by an 8-year-old girl

Every day last week I found time to make my way down to the Intercoastal Waterway to try fishing out on our large dock.

In my first trip out, I had tried to do some fishing, but every cast I made into the Intercoastal Waterway a blue heron chased my bait. No birds and no bites for me, but this little 8-year-old girl named Harper Clinese from Roseto, Pennsylvania joined her dad Patrick and on her first cast hooked and landed a nice catfish right in front of me. And actually, I enjoyed watching the big smile from the little lady as she brought it in.


Hey, you bass guys should check out the Wobblers-Swimbait crankbait. Artificial tackle that is a lifelike lure. Price is right.

Now as a bass fisherman and former guide, I still fish for bass, but I use my trusty Wacky Worms in the ponds down here in Florida.


New York State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos recently announced that the 2021 hutning seasons in New York were the safest ever, with the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents since record-keeping began.

According to Seggos’ announcement, DEC Environmental Conservation Officers investigated nine hunting-related shooting incidents in 2021, including only one fatality.

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In the announcement, Seggos said he was proud of DEC’s Hunter Education Program and its educators and volunteer instructors who worked to ensure a safe hunting season.

Accoridng to the rannouncement, seven of the nine hunter-related shooting incidents in 2021 were two-party firearm incidents, while two incidents were self-inflicted. All identified shooters were experienced hunters with an average of 40 years of hunting experience. The lone fatality involved a deer hunter not wearing fluroscent orange or pink. The hunter was mistaken for game and shot by a hutning partner.

The new hunting regulation that took effect in 2021 extended legal shooting hours for big game to 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. None of these incidents occurred during the new extended hours.


This is the time of year when New York’s resident coyotes breed and set up dens for pups that will arrive in the spring. DEC recently issued guidance to help prevent conflicts between people and coyotes to protect the public and their pets. For the most part, coyotes avoid contact with people. But, if coyotes learn to associate food such as garbage or pet food with people, these animals may lose their natural fear of humans.

So, don’t leave food outside and eliminate the availability of bird seed. Don’t let pets run free, small dogs and cats are especially vulnerable. Contact your Regional DEC Wildlife Office for assistance if you repeatedly see coyotes during the day near residences.

Winter track: River Dell earns group 2 girls state title

The scoresheet showed that only three girls scored for River Dell in Saturday’s group 2 meet at Toms River’s Bubble. Christina Allen won both the 800 and 1,600 meter runs, Albreeana Rilveria was second in the 55 hurdles and Grace McQueeny took sixth in the high jump. That gave the Golden Hawks 29 points, three more than runners-up NV/Demarest, Haddonfield and Rumson-Fair Haven and their second group title.

But don’t try and tell River Dell coach Mike Urso that only three girls contributed to his team’s victory.

“All the kids that down here worked hard all year to get us here, and even when they weren’t competing, got us jacked up like crazy,” said Urso. “It felt like a whole lot more than three kids were part of this win.”

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Rilveria, tied for the third seed in the hurdles coming into the meet, qualified only fifth in the trials and was annoyed at her performance.

“I’ve been in a rut for the last month and a half and I felt I hadn’t improved the way I should,” said Rilveria, who ran 9.37 in the event in her first meet, then never bettered that until she won the sectionals on Feb. 20. “I told myself to focus on the hurdles and forget every thing around mee.”

The internal conversation must have worked. Rilveria appeared to be fourth after the third of five hurdles but seemed to catch fire after that, closing strongly to grab second in a personal best of 8.99 seconds, more than .2 faster than her trials.

“I really wanted to make the Meet of Champs,” said Rilveria, who earned an automatic berth with her finish. “Over the last two hurdles I wanted to prove to myself I could get there.”

River Dell’s chance to win the title almost was over before it started. Allen forgot that in state competition, the command is to step up to the line on ready, then wait for the gun.

Fortunately there was no false start when Allen, leaning forward, slipped.

“I knew it was a stupid mistake and I’m glad the gun never went off,” said Allen, who went on to hold off both Angelina Perez of Lakeland and Ava Augustine of Mendham to win in 5:04.54 and then beat NV/Old Tappan’s Cara Hliboki to win the 800 for the second straight week, clocking 2:17.27. “I wasn’t more nervous than usual, and if anything I was less nervous because I knew what I had to do to advance.”

Demarest duo claims individual group 2 crowns

Casey Sullivan (shot put) and Michelle Lee (pole vault) are the latest NV/Demarest girls to win field event state titles, the ninth and tenth wins since 2001. Both of them, while mainstays of the Demarest spring team, neither had participated in the winter before.

“There’s a big difference between the indoor shot put and the outdoor one,” said Sullivan who added a win in the indoor groups to the outdoor group (and State Meet of Champions) titles of a year ago. “It’s too squishy. But there’s no difference in the preparations and every else we’re doing indoors.”

Sullivan’s throw of 43-0 1/2 inch was her sixth win of the season, where her winning throw is better than anyone else in the state’s best this year. Even though it’s below her seasonal best of 44-11, the Wake Forest-bound senior isn’t concerned or frustrated.

“I’m focusing on my technique this winter and not setting any number goals right now. I’m just trying to be consistent and the big throws will come.”

It’s Lee’s first state win and like Sullivan, she’s not concerned that her win at 10-6 on fewer misses is below her personal best of 11-3.

“It was great to win this meet and get 10 points for my team,” said Lee. who made 10-6 on her second attempt to take the title. “I’ve been making the same mistake lately of blowing through poles (without enough bend to get over the crossbar) and once I iron that out, I know I’ll jump a lot higher.”

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“Next week (at the Meet of Champions) will definitely be a difficult challenge,” said Lee, who will vault at Columbia next year. “But I think I’m ready for it.”

How low can Angelina Perez go?

For now it’s 10:21.29 in the 3,200 meters for the amazing Lakeland distance runner.

Her latest victory, her second state group 2 indoor title, is the fifth fastest in the country this year, the state group 2 and all-group meet record and is fastest than any NJSIAA athlete has ever run at any indoor meet.

Only the 10:15.02 by The Lawrenceville School’s Charlotte Bednar in 2021 is faster and Lawrenceville is not an NJSIAA member.

“I aways thought I was better at cross-country than in track,” said Perez, the state cross-country champion, who finished second in the Eastbay national championship in December. “But now I know what I’m capable of on the track and I’m working up to better times.”

It’s a sign of her ever growing confidence that she even ran the 1,600 as an extended warm-up for the longer race, running 5:05.29 and pushing friend and rival Christina Allen to her first group title.

“It gets me going,” said Perez, who ran the first 1,600 in the 3,200 in about 5:15 and ran the second half almost as she had run the open 1,600 hours earlier. “I felt good today.”

Perez was almost as happy for her teammates’ performance in the event as she was for her own. Caitlin Fahy broke 12 minutes for the first time, running 11:54.12 for 11th place, while Abigail Horevay ran 11:33.58 for sixth place and a medal. It was also Horevay’s fastest 3,200 in nearly two years.

Khanzada sets high goals — and clears them

Tenafly’s Norina Khanzada grabbed the state lead in the high jump on Feb. 16, when she cleared 5-7 in the high jump. Saturday she confirmed her status as one of the best jumpers in the state by winning her first state title with a leap of 5-6, beating Elsa Spoor of Chatham on misses at 5-6.

Yet Khanzada admits winning isn’t necessarily her goal at each meet.

“I just try to set a goal for my own performance because I can’t stop anyone else from doing well,” said Khanzada, a junior. “I set my goal at 5-6 today because I want to be consistent at that height.”

An early miss at 5-2 left her behind Spoor until she cleared 5-6 on her second jump, one fewer than it took Spoor. Then both jumpers got a chance to try 5-8, Khanzada for the first time.

“I wasn’t as scared as I thought I’d be, because it looked the same as 5-6,” said Khanzada, who had stopped jumping when she made 5-7 at the Bergen championships. “I came really close on one jump, but I hit it with my calf.”

Her next meet is the State Meet of Champions on March 4. Khanzada has set her goal for that.

“This time I want to make 5-6 on my first attempt,” she says. If she does a state Meet of Champs title could be hers.

Munson copies rival’s formula, wins title

Westwood’s Connor Munson was afraid his winter season might be over just 11 days ago. En route to a record performance in the pentathlon at the Bergen County championships, Munson injured his hamstring in the long jump, the fourth of five events and feared he wouldn’t be able to compete in the state sectionals four days later.

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Fortunately, he immediately started therapy — “I tried everything — PT, acupuncture, heat, ice, even ultrasound and I dedicated myself to get better,” he said.

But the high jump and 55 hurdles, two events that he could have won at sectionals had to go and he took just four jumps in the pole vault, clearing 12-6 to qualify and make the group meet, three feet below his best.

Saturday, after making his four heights without a miss, he cleared 15 feet on his final attempt to dethrone Pascack Hills’ Max Zuckerman and win his first title.

“Max came over to me to congratulate me and said ‘you copied me from last spring,” said Munson. “And I had.”

Zuckerman suffered a foot injury just before last spring’s sectionals, but managed to clear a much lower than normal height to advance to the group 2 meet, where he won, beating Munson. Both vaulters won medals at the State Meet of Champions.

“I felt good and I’m about 90-95% recovered,” said Munson, who plans to long jump and pole vault at the SMOC on March 4. “I’m glad I was able to recover so quickly.”

First time in a long time for Bergenfield’s Fall

Souleymane Fall has become a student of track and field during the winter season while he has become a sprinting phenomenon.

Fall, who ran the third fastest time in the state at 200 meters earlier this winter, is getting better in the 55 and 400 seemingly every time he runs it, winning sectional titles in both and lowering his 400 best to 50.68 in a fifth place finish from the unseeded heat in the group 3 race Saturday.

But it’s in the 55 that the Bergenfield senior has shone brightest lately.

Fall overtook new rival Dean Park of Fort Lee in the last four or five steps to win the group title in 6.55 seconds, becoming Bergenfield’s first boys champ since 1993 in any event and gave credit to his new-found attention to detail in his new sport.

“I used to just go out and run,” said Fall. “All this is new to me. But I’m starting to be a student, watching my films and listening to what others are saying about what they do.”

“I read an article where (Fabian France of Bergen Catholic) told about the importance to keeping his knees high,” said Fall. “So I’m trying to do that. I also know I have to get a better start in every race.”

Next up– the 55 and 200 at the Meet of Champions and a chance to put those new lessons to use.

Lots of auto-qualifiers to SMOC

In addition to the eight event winners early Saturday, there were automatic North Jersey qualifiers in nearly every event. Anyone in the top three automatically advance’s to the State Meet of Champs, along with 12 wild cards from the six group meets.

A list of auto-qualifiers from groups 2 and 3 follows:

Girls Group 2: Sanai Bryant, Dumont (2nd, 55, 7.37); Hliboki (2nd, 800, 2:18.04); Perez (2nd, 1,600, 5:05.29); Rilveria (2nd, hurdles, 8.99); Ashleigh Gorman, Ramsey (2nd, high jump, 5-0); Katie Klein, NV/Old Tappan (3rd, pole vault, 10-0).

Girls Group 3: Madelyn McDermott, Wayne Valley (3rd, pole vault, 9-6).

Boys Group 2: NV/Demarest (3rd, 4-x-400, 3:33.36).

Boys Group 3: Park (2nd, 55, 6.57); Winston Calvo, Wayne Valley (2nd, shot, 51-4 3/4).