MADISON _ Whippany Park's Nickolette Dunbar is well known, having established herself as one of the top high school shot putters in the nation.
Rhianna Follet of Morris Hills is the opposite, looking to stand out as an individual competitor after being part of several outstanding relay teams, including one that competed at the New Balance Nationals when she was a freshman.
Dunbar, a junior, left basketball behind and made an indoor track debut that was more than memorable, blowing away meet and Morris County records at the Jack O'Leary Lid Lifter at Drew University on Thursday, Dec. 18.
With Dunbar's put of 45 feet, 8 inches, she broke the meet record of 41-6 established by Parsippany Hills' Angie Rosamilia in 1999. She also obliterated the Morris County indoor record of 44-3 1/2 held by Jefferson's Carrie Wasdyke.
Strangely enough, Dunbar was nervous going into the meet. She sent the shot 41-11 on her first try before unleashing the record throw.
"This was the first time so Nickolette was a nervous but she settled down," Wildcats coach Brad Callahan said. "She got that first throw out of the way, got focused and landed the 45-8."
Dunbar did much work over the spring and fall. She dropped the glide method and is using the spin technique exclusively. Her foot speed has improved with the help of Chuck Mound.
"Now that Nickolette is a junior, she's so much more confident," Callahan said. "She's matured as a person. The weight and speed training have really paid off."
Not long after the record-breaking throw, Dunbar was gone. She was in a rush to make the holiday concert, where she would perform yet again, this time as a member of the chorus.
She made the decision to leave basketball and zero in on track after her sister, Mickel, graduated last spring.
"Nickolette played basketball for the chance to be with her sister," Callahan said. "That was important to her. I think she really liked it but wanted to put all of her efforts into the shot put."
Follet, a senior, took first in the 600 meters with a time of 1:42.59. The victory was her first as an individual.
"I expected to do well," Follet said. "I hoped to win. I wanted to win. It's been a little hard for me for the last few years. I've been an underdog, coming in second and third. I feel good. I'm confident. I can compete."
Follet, an outside midfielder for the Scarlet Knights' soccer team, was on several exceptional relay teams in previous years, running the 4x200 and the 4x400. She was typically the runner when in the 4x200. In the 4x400, Follet most often led off.
On the way to her first individual gold, Follet took charge on the second lap after being with Mendham's Sierra Tolleson for much of the first lap. Tonnesen, who finished second, was unable to catch her.
"I wanted to take the lead and keep it," Follet said. "I wanted to create a big space. I'm a senior now so this is my last shot. I'm going to leave it all on the track and do big things."
Follet impresses in the classroom as well. She is part of the Morris Hills Magnet Program which emphasizes math and science. She is at the tail end of a four-year research project on pose running.
"As a freshman, you're taught a certain form," she explained. "I was interested to find out if it was beneficial. I did testing and gatheredata from my teammates before they began doing pose running and then did it again after."
Parsippany's Elly Scherer topped the field in the 55-meter hurdles with a personal and meet record of 8.53. Scherer was second in the 55-meter dash, crossing the finish line in 7.64.
Morris Hills' Casey Lyness (7.57) prevailed in the 55-meter dash. Ally Schlosser of Parsippany took the 1,000 meters in 3:10.69. Roxbury's Olivia Viparina garnered gold in the 1,600 meters in 5:13.26.
The top spot in the pole vault went to Monica Benz of Villa Walsh, who posted a 10-6. Dunbar's Whippany Park teammate, Kristen Hall, won the high jump with a leap of 5-0. Mendham took first in the 4x200 relay while Roxbury took the 4x400.