BOONTON _ Butler's Rebecca Kneppel never objected to being labeled "the fast girl."
Everyone always noticed Kneppel's speed when she played soccer and basketball. However, there was little else, she said, that made her a consistent asset on the field and court.
"I had OK skills," she said. "Nothing notable."
So, Kneppel played one year of basketball in high school and dropped it. She took part in soccer as a freshman and sophomore then left it behind, too. The latter is exactly what Kneppel does on the track: Leave everyone behind.
Kneppel, a junior, turned in a superb showing at the Morris County Track and Field Championships on May 16 and 17 at Boonton High School, finishing first in the 100, 200 and 400 meters. She garnered gold in the 100 and 400 in the heavy rain on the first day of the meet and prevailed in the 200 meters on the second day.
Randolph scored 107 points to repeat as team champion. It was the fifth title in 10 years for the Rams. In second place was West Morris with 50 points.
Winning a trio of events was a great accomplishment for Kneppel, who also participated in the 4x100.
"According to the times, I was supposed to get first," she said. "Overall, it was a good meet. I was sort of surprised. It was encouraging to get first in three events."
Kneppel's favorite race is the 200. She was most proud of her performance in the 400 because she clocked a 57.35, shaving more than two seconds off her best time last year.
"I like the 200 because it's just the right distance," said Kneppel, who tore the meniscus in her knee while playing soccer as a sophomore. "The 400 hurts a lot. I hit a wall. It hurts when I try to run through it. The 100 is short and sweet but I'm still accelerating. I feel like I have more."
She certainly hopes she has more. Kneppel's goal is to take her successful season to the limit.
Morris Catholic's Kate McAndrew, also a junior, was atop the pack in the 800 with a time of 2:15.27 and took her first outdoor title. McAndrew was also second in the 1,600 meters to Randolph's Abby Loveys.
"I wanted to get out fast," McAndrew said. "I'm usually behind. I like to catch people. Today, I led and kept the pace up."
McAndrew's strategy typically is to stay with the leader then outkick her. She was the fastest seed coming in and wanted the fastest time. Last winter, at the indoor championships, McAndrew claimed the 1,000 meters.
"I'm excited," she said. "There's so much good competition here."
Kathryn Brown of Kinnelon had a PR and set a school record in the long jump, leaping 17-6.25. Brown was second to Kayley Moran of Morris Hills in the 400 hurdles, fourth in the triple jump and fifth in the high hurdles, establishing another school record.
"It's exciting and a little surprising," Brown said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity. I did the long jump in the rain on Wednesday and to do what I did... My best jump was my last one. After I did it, I knew it was big. My coach (Joe Illenye) knew it, too. It was all definitely worth it."
Brown deemed competing in the rain as "pretty gross." The sand stuck to her everywhere, including her arms, making putting on a jacket uncomfortable.
"There was so much sand," Brown said. "As a jumper, I have to embrace the sand."
Loveys of Randolph prevailed in the 1,600 and 3,200. Karen Hull of Randolph won the intermediate hurdles. Meghan O'Malley was another gold medal winner for the Rams, capturing the high jump. Makayla Taylor added to Randolph's total with the top throw in the discus.
Montville had a pair of winners in Alicia Gupte (triple jump) and Blythe Hehmeyer (pole vault). Whippany Park's Shannon Ziccarello was first in javelin. Kayla Morgan of Morristown garnered gold in the shot put. West Morris topped the field in the 4x400.
***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW***
Latest from Sandy Seegers