MADISON _ The margin of victory was wide, way wider than Mendham coach Roy Hamblem imagined it would be.
The Minutemen took top team honors once again at the Morris County Winter Track Championships held on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Drew University.
Mendham didn't finish first by single digits. The Minutemen, who did a victory lap after the results were announced, amassed 66 points to Mount Olive's 45. And, they didn't have to wait until the last event to know the outcome.
"Last year, it was really close," Hamblen said. "It came down to the relay. We got a lot of points. There were some really big performances."
One of the big efforts was by Reagan Kolakowski, who accounted for 14 points. Kolakowski was third in the 1,600-meter run, taking 12 seconds off her best time, and second in the 1,000-meter run, setting a new school record with a 3:04.37.
Abby Seel, not feeling well, drew the praise of Hamblen for gutting it out in her races. Seel, a senior, was fourth in the 1,600-meter run, giving the Minutemen a 1-3-4 finish. She was fourth as well in the 3,200-meter run. It was after the 3,200-meter run that Mendham took the lead over Mount Olive.
"It was difficult for Abby in the mile," Hamblen said. "She had a tough time breathing. I told her 'Do what you can' going into the two mile and she was able to get us a few points."
The effort put forth by Mackenzie Barry was monumental yet expected. Barry topped the field in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Then there was freshman Julia Mszanski, who grabbed gold in the pole vault by clearing 10 feet. Mendham typically doesn't pick up points in that event.
Ultimately, the Minutemen took first in the 4x400, clocking a 4:07.79, the second-fastest time ever at Drew University. The Marauders were second.
The members of the 4x400 squad were Cali Heffernan, Laura Papili, Nicole Skuraton and Sierra Tonneson. Skuraton, a sophomore, was a late addition, filling in for Audrey O'Neill, sidelined with a hip injury. She ran the third leg.
"We have a lot of depth so it was nice to be able to give Audrey a chance to recover," Hamblen said. "I don't like to run kids when they're hurt or sick. Nicole did a great job in her place."
Mount Olive senior Marissa Karl prevailed in the 600-meter run in 1:38.82.
"I'm so happy. This is so unbelievable," said Karl, who missed much of the 2011-12 indoor track season with a groin injury.
A pair of Morris Hills runners, Ulana Thompson and Rhianna Follett, were second and third, respectively. Karl credited Thompson with pushing her. She mentioned how cross country made her better.
"Ulana always pushes me," Karl said. "I liked knowing she was there. You won't slow down with someone on your tail. Cross country made us push ourselves, too. We upped the tempo. All of that mileage paid off."
Karl, very appropriately, was wearing gold glitter liquid eyeliner and had a gold ribbon woven through the braid in her hair.
Mount Olive standout Keturah Orji was a double winner, garnering the 55-meter dash with a PR of 7.29 and the 300-meter dash in 41.50.
"My start wasn't very good in the 55 meters," Orji said. "I got distracted. I heard later someone may have false started. It caused me to lift my head at the beginning. I just picked up speed."
In the 300 dash, Orji had a simple plan: Get to the inside lane. She did and cruised past the rest of the runners.
Liz Wellman of Randolph turned in a PR in the 1,000-meter run with a 3:02.12 despite having a head cold.
"I trained hard all week," said Wellman. "We got in some good workouts. Then, I just ran the way I've been running."
Wellman's Randolph teammate, Samantha Kral, was first in the 55-meter hurdles.
Jefferson senior Carrie Wasdyke triumphed in the shot put with a put of 41-02.75.
Alexa Perkins of Hanover Park repeated as champion in the high jump with a leap of five feet.
For complete results, see mctrack.org.
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