BOONTON _ Camille Carter typically is the shortest runner on the starting line for the 100 meters.
That's why the 5-foot-2 Carter, a Morristown High School senior, is so concerned about details. She sets out to do everything right, knowing that her stride isn't going to get her across the finish line first.
So, when Carter got off to a rough start in the 100-meter final at the Morris County Championships on Tuesday, May 12, she was a bit concerned. No one probably noticed that Carter straightened herself up at her eighth step, not her 10th, like she intended.
Carter ran the rest of the race to perfection, triumphing in a personal-record time of 12.59, to join her older brother, Jerry Carter III, as a gold medal winner in the championships. Carter III, now 24 years old and an assistant coach at Pope John, claimed the 100 and 200-meter events at the 2008 Morris County Championships.
"I've been working our with my brother," Carter said. "He's helped me a lot. Knowing that my parents and other family members were here motivated me. I wanted to do my best."
After one day of competition, the Whippany Park girls, buoyed by first-place finishes by Gina Dello Russo in the 400 and Nickolette Dunbar in the shot put, had 38 points. Mendham followed with 32 points while Randolph had 22 and Roxbury had 16.
Dunbar ruled in shot put for the third consecutive year with a meet-record throw of 48-10 1/4. Dello Russo, West Morris junior Julia Mszanski (pole vault) and Hanover Park junior Anna Lazur (400 hurdles) repeated as champions.
The meet will resume Wednesday, May 13 at 4 p.m., at Boonton High School.
Once Carter, also a guard for the basketball squad that garnered a conference title last winter, got past her rocky start, she decided she'd push herself. It didn't take much. Mendham's Emma Schact and Mount Olive's Jen Ojukwu, running beside her, reminded Carter of what she set out to do.
"Having them right next to me made a difference," said Carter, whose father, Jerry Jr., is the pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Morristown. "They were on my back. I had to stay ahead. I just didn't want to lose. It was high knees in the middle phase of the race. I kept lifting my legs as high as I could."
Because Carter, headed to the University of Louisville, where she will major in accounting, tends to slow down at the finish, she wanted "to run a 150 instead of a 100."
The issue of nerves never arises. Carter is calm at all times, whether on the track or court.
"This was a goal but I wasn't nervous at all," she said. "That's because my dad is a pastor. I do my part and leave the rest to God. I just figure there is a plan for me."
Dello Russo, a junior, was seeded fourth going into the final of the 400 meters and realized defending her 2014 title was not going to be easy.
"I was worried," Dello Russo said. "All I could do was get out fast and run my race. I wanted to leave it all on the track. I ended up going out a little too fast. It was hard holding on but I did."
Her time in the 400 was 58.41. As a sophomore, she prevailed with a PR of 58.33.
Dello Russo, despite balmy weather, ran with black leggings on. Teammates and others questioned if she'd be hot but she contended that "warm legs are fast."
Mszanski had the top mark in pole vault, clearing 10 feet, 7 inches. It was nearly a foot less than her PR of 11-6 yet she wasn't unhappy since she's been battling tendinitis in her left knee.
"I'm definitely happy with it this season," Mszanski said of the height she cleared. "I've had this knee injury and it's my left one which is my takeoff leg. It's been difficult because I can't get the speed I need. It's frustrating. The injury is an on-and-off thing."
Mszanski believes her knee problems may have developed while competing in gymnastics. She participated in the sport for 10 years, doing floor exercise, balance beam, uneven bars and vault. She gave it up prior to eighth grade.
In other girls events on the first day of the meet, West Morris' Sierra Castaneda took the 1,600 in 5:01.37 and Morris Knolls' Tymia Joseph topped the field in long jump.
The Wildcats, who recently shared the Morris County Relays crown with Mendham and garnered the NJAC Small Schools title, would relish taking top team honors here.
"All we have to do is give it everything we have," Della Russo said. "We can win this if we hit our marks. I think we'll be OK. We have a chance."
For Tuesday's results, click on the following link: http://mctrack.org/MCTCAST/15ST/Results.htm
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