BOONTON _ The fact that Whippany Park's track and turf field are still not completed perturbs Brad Callahan.
Knowing what the Wildcats have accomplished in spite of that, however, makes Callahan extremely proud.
Callahan was doubly elated when Whippany Park, led by seniors Gina Dello Russo, Kristen Hall and Nickolette Dunbar, scored 94 points to claim its second straight title at the Morris County Championships held at Boonton on May 17 and 18. Mountain Lakes (49.33) took second place followed by Montville (45).
"This is rewarding because of what we've been through," Callahan said. "We don't have a track so the kids split up to practice. It's been hard on them. That's why it's so nice to repeat."
Two or three times per week this spring, the Wildcats boarded a bus and traveled to Parsippany Hills to get in a workout on a track. Callahan stayed at Whippany Park with the throwers. Having his athletes at two sites "made it difficult to know what's going on."
The circumstances, far from ideal, did not affect standouts like Dello Russo, who simply wanted to make it two in a row.
"This is awesome," Dello Russo said. "We've been working for it. As a small school in a powerful county, we just try to hold our own. We had a pretty comfortable lead (18 points) after the first day. We never worry what the score is. We just worry about doing our best on the track and in the field and hope that it's enough."
Dello Russo had a superb showing at the meet, picking up a gold medal in the 200 meters and coming in second in the 400 meters, high jump and pole vault. Hall was second in the high jump and third in the long jump and 100 hurdles. Dunbar prevailed in the shot put and discus.
The showings put in by Kate Mastriciano, who was second in the shot put and third in the discus, and Francesca Kaspar, third in the javelin, also were critical for Whippany Park, which scored seven more points than last spring.
"Kate got second on her final throw," Callahan said. "Franki did very, very well. We preach 'Do what you can do.' We saw the seeds. They're just names on paper. You need to perform for two days and not worry about anyone else. We needed to take care of our own business."
Kaspar's improvement in the javelin was dramatic. At the 2015 championships, she was 30th overall with a throw of 80-09. Kaspar went 118-02 on Wednesday.
"Winning as a team is the best," Dello Russo said. "There's nothing better than knowing the work we put in is paying off."
Chatham's Simone Kirton, a junior, finished ahead of the pack in the 100 hurdles in 14.59, a personal record. Kirton was pleased with taking first after being second in 2015 but missed her rivals, Randolph's Elly Scherer and Morris Knolls' Tymia Joseph, both sidelined with pulled hamstrings.
"I'm very happy. I came out to win," Kirton said. "It was definitely a different atmosphere without Elly and Tymia. I just focused on myself and went for it."
The 800-meter race was won by Kyra Velock of Mountain Lakes in 2:15.98. Brooke Olsen of Randolph was first in the 3,200 meters. The 4x400 squad from West Morris, consisting of Crystal Robinson, Brittany Carratura, Jendaya Williamson and Abigail Rec, was tops in the 4x400.
Montville's Leah Wis was the individual champion in high jump. Lainie Seijas of Mountain Lakes, third in the triple jump last year, moved up to first.
***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW***
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