MADISON _ It's way early in the indoor track season - the very beginning to be precise - but that doesn't diminish Whippany Park's accomplishments.
The Wildcats basked in the spotlight at the 2015-16 season opener, earning gold medals in the high jump, shot put and 4x200 relay at the Jack O'Leary Lid Lifter on Thursday, Dec. 17 at Drew University.
"I'm so happy. I couldn't be happier," said Whippany Park junior Emily Petro, who ran the opening leg of the 4x200. "It was a good time. I feel good. We pushed ourselves. We went as hard as we could."
Petro and the Wildcats, hoping only to place, ran in the second heat and wound up topping the field with a time of 1:54.43. Other members of the winning relay squad were Maria Grill, Kristen Hall and Gina Dello Russo. Morris Knolls was second in 1:55.17.
"I did not think we'd win," Petro said. "We're all exhausted. We kept telling each other 'Good job' when it was over. We knew the others in our race were pretty far behind so we just had to wait and see what the results were. This is a great way to start the season."
Petro, who typically runs the second leg, started off because Grill, a sophomore, was new to the relay. Petro took on the new role with ease, getting off fast before handing off to Grill.
Not long before the 4x200, Hall, a senior, finished first in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 4 inches, which matched the meet record established by Morris Hills' Lauren Burke in 2007. Nickolette Dunbar, another senior, took the shot put with a throw of 47-5, also a meet record.
Hall had her mind set on 5-2 coming into the meet but, obviously, exceeded her expectations. She cleared 5-4 only one other time - at the NJAC Championships in the spring.
"I feel good about 5-4," she said. "I never expected that. I hit 5-2 and was satisfied. At 5-4, I was ecstatic."
To achieve the mark, Hall made two adjustments at the urging of Wildcats high jump, pole vault and hurdles coach Colin Feeney. Feeney instructed Hall to begin her approach farther back and to step in more on her run to the bar.
"My coaches kept moving me back," Hall said. "I stepped out on my run but it was fixed. Both things helped. Getting 5-4 is kind of surreal. I'm more confident now and have high hopes for the season."
Another fix also figured into the result. Hall wasn't rotating her hips for some of her earlier jumps. Once she did, she stopped knocking the bar down.
"I was traveling across the bar," she said. "It made it harder to get over it."
Randolph senior Nora May McSorley prevailed in the meet's featured event - the 600-meter run. McSorley crossed the finish line in 1:40.29. She, too, did not anticipate winning a gold medal in the meet that kicked off the season.
"I am really, really surprised," McSorley said. "I did not go in thinking that I'd win. I wanted to go out slowly and finish hard."
Perhaps McSorley, headed to Columbia University next September, was excited about the new season.
"I love winter track," McSorley said. "It's so much better than cross country. I prefer shorter races."
McSorley said she was nervous before the 600 and was "relieved it turned out well." She left the gym with a trophy, one that she intended to put on the shelf in her room.
Tymia Joseph, a Morris Knolls senior, was victorious in the 55-meter dash with a PR of 7.54.
"I was really nervous," Joseph said. "I didn't feel prepared. I felt like I didn't practice enough. I had dead butterflies before the race. I kept bouncing around. I had to keep moving."
Joseph, a standout long jumper and hurdler, moved where it mattered most - on the track. Behind her were Mendham's Emma Schacht (7.58) and Parsippany's Olivia Shosan (7.82).
She ran in an old pair of black and gray shoes with purple laces.
"I didn't really have the right shoes on," Joseph noted, showing the soles which were textured. "That made me more nervous. I need indoor flats."
Other winners were Parsippany's Ally Schlosser (1,000-meter run, 3:10.44), Mendham's Lucy Jeffs (1,600-meter run, 5:27.40), Randolph's Elly Scherer (55 hurdles, meet record 8.28), Morris Hills (4x400, 4:22.81) and Randolph's Savan Brackelmanns-Puig (pole vault, 9 feet).
Latest from Sandy Seegers