MADISON _ The plan was simple: Conserve energy.
West Morris coach Tom Lawrence made that request of Kylene Cochrane, hoping the senior standout would have enough left for the 1,000-meter race after participating in the 1,600 and 600 at the Morris County Indoor Track Championships on Thursday, Jan. 23.
"We talked about positioning, about strategy," Cochrane said. "My coach told me to focus on the 1,600 but not go out too hard. I had two races after that so I had to conserve energy."
Cochrane, who ran on a treadmill at school and at home in the basement because of the recent inclement weather, took the advice and had more than enough energy and stamina, taking first place in all three events and setting a meet record in the 1,000.
Those performances led to the girls team title for the Wolfpack - their first in school history. West Morris had 56 points while sister school Mendham finished with 51 in the meet at Drew University. Mount Olive, powered by Keturah Orji, was third with 39.
"This is amazing," Cochrane said. "It's so fun because we did it as a team. We're all close so it's nice."
Cochrane had a PR in the 600, her second race of the meet, crossing the finish line in 1:38.74. Her time in the 1,000 was an impressive 2:56.51, dethroning Randolph's Joelle Amaral, who ran a 2:59.44 in 2011.
"It's all so exciting," Cochrane said. "Whenever I take time off, I don't expect it. I guess I'm getting stronger as the season goes on."
Teammate Brennan Sharkey took second in the 3,200 behind Mendham's Mackenzie Barry (10:58.91). Sharkey picked up important points in the next-to-last event, racing past Randolph's Carole Harsch, to pick up eight much-needed points for the Wolfpack.
Kristina Lovenberg placed second in high jump behind Montville's Leah Wis and Marlena Paz was second in pole vault to contribute to West Morris' championship.
Mount Olive's Keturah Orji was another multiple winner, earning golds in the 55-meter dash (7.32) and 300-meter run (42.25).
In addition to Barry's excellent showing in the 3,200, Mendham prevailed in the 1,600-meter relay. Combining to run a 4:09.36 for the Minutemen were Cali Heffernan, Audrey O'Neill, Margo Medenbach and Sierra Tonnesen.
Randolph sophomore Elly Scherer continued to dominate in the 55-meter hurdles, recovering from a poor start to win in 8.69.
"I didn't get out fast enough," Scherer said. "I had to catch up. I caught up to everyone at the second-to-last hurdle. It was determination. I really wanted it."
Although Scherer is Morris County's best female hurdler, show jumping is her real love. She began competing last summer.
"Riding is similar to hurdling but you're on a horse," noted Scherer, who has taken lessons and riden horses since she was 5.
Scherer is torn between the two sports and actually has considered dropping track.
"Track's going well so I'll stick with it for now," she said.
Villa Walsh's Monica Benz took the pole vault, matching her PR and clearing 11 feet, 6 inches. Benz, a junior, did not take part in any of the other meets at Drew this winter.
Benz, a junior, has been working out with heavier and longer poles at Heights Unlimited in Stanhope. Most recently, she has been using a pole that is 13 feet long and weighs 145 pounds. Benz previously used a pole that was 12 feet and 130 pounds.
"Pole vaulters always try for something longer or heavier," Benz said. "It helps you get higher."
The Benz family has reason for a double celebration. Michael Benz, a senior at Delbarton, triumphed on the boys' side.
Benz tried cross country as a freshman and swam but decided she liked track.
"This is it," Benz said. "It's good to be here with the team. It's a great atmosphere."
Helene Rowland of Madison took top individual honors in the shot put with a throw of 38-3 1/4.
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