MADISON _ In Karen Hull's family, participating in a sport isn't a choice, it's mandatory.
Hull, a Randolph High School freshman, has been involved in soccer and track for six years already. The 14-year-old, despite often competing or practicing six days a week, still has a zeal for both sports.
"My family believes in fitness," said Hull, whose efforts helped the Rams capture the 2016 Morris County Relays title at Drew University on Thursday, Jan. 5. "It doesn't matter if you're good or bad at what you do. It's important to get exercise. I've done this since I was very young so I'm used to it. I really love it."
Hull's exuberance was evident at the relays. She enjoyed every event, running the last leg of the 4x200, doing the first leg of the shuttle hurdles and taking part in the high jump. Randolph was second in the 4x200 and finished first in the shuttle hurdles and high jump and claimed the championship with 60 points. Roxbury was second with 45 and Morris Hills took third with 35.
The highlight of the meet?
"I'm really happy with my split time in the 4x200," Hull said. "It was 25.9 seconds. I was surprised to hear that."
The Morris Relays title was the Rams' first since 2011 and 17th overall. Hull was thrilled to participate and proud of Randolph's success.
"We have a lot of teams out to get us," Hull said. "We've lost by some close margins in the past. We're back on the map again. We're a force to be reckoned with."
That's for sure. Randolph, which chose not to run the last two events, also was first in the 4x800 and the distance medley and was runnerup in the pole vault.
Coach Len Petriewicz noted that the Rams got off to a bit of a rough start in the shuttle hurdles, which opened the meet, when Savanna Brackelmanns-Puig clipped a hurdle and fell. That might have spelled doom for other teams but not in this case as Randolph prevailed in 34.44. Hull, Jordyn Kranis and Meghan O'Malley were other members of the triumphant foursome.
"Savanna didn't just lay there," Pietriewicz said. "She rolled, got up and kept going. That was great. We have a lot of young kids and they came through. I'm very, very happy. You never get tired of winning."
It appears that the Rams will be on top or in contention for at least several more years with athletes like Hull and O'Malley, a sophomore. In addition to the shuttle hurdles, O'Malley ran the first leg of the 4x200.
Hull is following in the footsteps of many in her family who played sports for Randolph. Her older sister, Diane, also ran track for Pietrewicz. Lester Davis, Hull's uncle, was a standout runner. Kim, her mother, was on the track and basketball teams. The younger Hull mentioned that her mom was involved in other activities, too, and even tried playing the tuba. Her father, Sergio Cardona, played professional soccer for Colombia.
"I haven't done much yet," Hull said. "I'm living on the legacy of the family right now."
Last fall, Hull distinguished herself on the soccer field, starting and scoring nine goals for the Rams, who went 13-6-1 and were MCT semifinalists. At this point, she likes soccer a "little more" than track.
"I'm naturally good at running. In soccer, you learn skills," she said. "I'm going to keep doing both. I don't know what I'll do in a few years. I'm still young."
In her younger years, Hull's schedule was filled with both sports. Mondays and Wednesdays were devoted to track while Tuesdays and Thursdays were for soccer. Typically, she'd have a game on Saturday and a meet on Sunday. She took off on Fridays.
"I like being busy," said Hull, whose favorite subjects are English and science.
As for the 5-foot-10 O'Malley, she says that her "tallness" enables her to be successful in track. At Drew, she had to switch back and forth between events, going from the hurdles to the high jump then to the 4x200 and back to high jump.
"I get warmed up by doing the high jump," O'Malley said. "I try to focus on one thing at a time on days like this. I don't think too much about it because it will mess me up."
Winning was sweet because last winter, Whippany Park garnered the Morris Relays title, edging out the Rams, 46-41.
"We were close to Whippany Park as a team and in a lot of individual categories," O'Malley said. "That's why it's so nice to win today."
Whippany Park, which lost many talented multi-event athletes to graduation, was first in the shot put led by the efforts of Kate Matrisciano (39-9 3/4) and Sophia Avallone. Matrisciano's best throw was a foot less than Morris Hills' Chioma Eluemunor (40-6).
"That was a season PR for me," Matrisciano said. "I've started to spin instead of glide and I got pointers from Nickolette (Dunbar). I struggled with it for a few weeks but I've ironed out the details. I kept losing my balance. I've been doing drills so it's become muscle memory."
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