MADISON _ Claire Doto ran into one of her former youth basketball coaches at a Randolph girls basketball game and he asked why she was seated in the bleachers.
"What are you doing over here?" he inquired, expecting that Doto, a freshman, would be out on the hardwood running the offense as point guard.
Doto explained that she had taken up indoor track and would no longer be playing basketball, only watching. Her decision surprised him.
Apparently, Doto knew exactly what she was doing. On Friday, Jan. 5, Doto, who chose running because she wanted to take part in an individual sport, helped the Rams repeat at the Morris County Girls Winter Track Relay Championships by being a part of the first-place shuttle hurdles and distance medley teams.
Randolph dominated, amassing 70 points and triumphing for the 18th time since the relays began in 1981. The second-place finishers, Roxbury and West Morris, had 28 points apiece.
"This is all very unexpected," Doto said. "I never thought I'd be on varsity. I couldn't imagine that I'd be on the winning team."
Doto, who enjoyed track events during field days in elementary and middle school, ran the shuttle hurdles with Stefany Heiberger, Jordyn Kranis and Meghan O'Malley. For the distance medley, she teamed with Brooke Olson, Meredith Finley and Abby Loveys.
Everyone who questioned Doto's decision to give up basketball now knows she is a talented runner. Since the indoor track season began, she has competed in hurdles, the 600 and 1,000 meters and the 400 sprint medley.
"It's exhilirating to run," she explained. "In basketball, you have an entire game to change things. Track is decided more quickly. I guess that's why it's more exciting."
Doto's family supported her decision to participate in track. They discussed Randolph's indoor program with other families in town.
Cross country and spring track will not be on Doto's radar in the future. She competed in soccer last fall and will play lacrosse in the spring. She said she will not be persuaded.
"Lacrosse is my big sport," Doto said. "I will kindly tell them no."
Randolph garnered gold in three additional events - 4x800, high jump and pole vault. Olson, Kate Gihorski, Amanda Houston and Loveys comprised the 4x800 team. O'Malley and Kranis prevailed in the high jump while Paige Zangara and Kranis
Roxbury prevailed in the 4x100 and sprint medley. Jefferson won shotput.