PARSIPPANY _ Randolph’s Abby Loveys named all that was perfect about the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Championships.
“The temperature. No wind. Condition of the course. Everything,” Loveys said.
Add to that Lovey’s race. The Rams junior finished in 17:35.48 to take the NJAC Large Schools Race at Central Park on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
Randolph, with four runners in the top 10, claimed the NJAC Large Schools title. Morgan Mehmel triumphed in the Small Schools race, leading Villa Walsh to the crown.
“It’s a new course so you don’t know what to expect,” Loveys said. “It’s a bad thing but also a good thing because you can run as hard as you want without being scared. Our coaches told us to go out there to do our best. They told us to not leave anything on the course."
Loveys, a junior, used the first mile to "go fast" because much of the course is downhill. There are hills over the last mile so it's beneficial to get off to a good start. Loveys, with teammate Brooke Olson early on, broke away quickly and made her way to the front.
Olson, a senior, was the runnerup to Loveys, posting a time of 18:32.32. Mendham's Lucy Jeffs was third and Julia Trethaway of West Morris was fourth. Kate Gihorski and Meredith Finley were seventh and eighth for the Rams, who scored 35 points. The fifth runner figuring into Randolph's scoring was Amanda Houston (17th). Sydney Bradle came in fifth and was the top runner for second-place Mount Olive (61 points).
"Winning today makes us excited for the counties," Loveys said. "I like the course because it's different and new."
Mehmel, undefeated for the first four batch races of the season, was pleased to top the pack. Mehmel navigated the course in 19:01. She and three teammates were among the first 12 across the finish line.
"I've been running well," Mehmel said. "I was fifth at the Shore Coaches Meet. To be first today is just crazy. I've been working hard and it's paying off. My plan was to break 19 minutes and I came close. That's OK. I'll get it another time."
Prior to the race, Mehmel was nervous. It was a big race and she was anxious. During the recent Stewart Invitational, she tripped over a root and fell yet finished and actually won.
"My legs felt tired the whole race," she said. "This was mental for me. I had to push through. All I wanted to do was keep pace. Sometimes, I go out too fast. When I got to the third mile, I gave it my all."
Villa Walsh coach Mary Ehmann was happy for Mehmel and the team. Hope Crann (5th), Sarah Hanifin (7th), Mia Cuttone (12th) and Julia Collum (15th) figured into the scoring.
"Many of our girls had huge PRs today," Ehmann said. "We're hoping for third behind Randolph and Mount Olive at the county meet. Morgan is pretty headstrong. She's smart out there. She didn't go out like a jackrabbit. She knows how to race and what she can do."
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