RANDOLPH _ Announcements made late in the school day inform Pope John athletes which games and events will be postponed and which practices won't be held.
No matter what the conditions outside, track isn't one of them.
Brian Corcoran's girls squad is outside practicing no matter what. At times, Corcoran's bundled-up and wet track athletes have silently questioned his decisions. Still, they get in their training, just like any other day.
It's days like Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, that the girls understand why their coach won't bend.
Pope John, accustomed to braving all of the elements, barely noticed the rainy and windy conditions when it claimed its third consecutive North Jersey, Non-Public A championship at Randolph High School. The Lions' margin of victory was impressive - they had 188 points while second-place Academy of Holy Angels had 104.5.
"Our practices are never cancelled," said Nicole Sarao, a member of Pope John's gold medal-winning 4x100 team. "This proves how well we can overcome and deal with things. We go out in the pouring rain, the worst conditions."
Alanna Hitscherich, who was first in the 110 hurdles at the sectional meet and also a part of the 4x100 quartet, recalled running on the track when it was snowy and icy last December.
"It was slushy and we were slipping," Hitscherich said. "We did half of our running on the track and half in the streets. There's a running joke that we wait for an announcement that track is off. It never is. None of us mind. It's made us stronger."
Obviously, Pope John was well-equipped to handle downpours and strong winds over the two-day meet. It was uncharacteristically cold, too, with the temperature at 50 degrees early Saturday afternoon.
Junior Marissa Evans didn't let the unsatistifactory conditions affect her in the 200 meters on Saturday. Evans, of Rockaway, raced across the finish line in 25.58 seconds.
"It's not the greatest weather but I went out and did what I had to do," Evans said. "All of my training prepared me for this moment. I had to make sure I did a good long warmup."
Evans could feel the wind blow sideways at the start of her race. On the straightaway, she said that "it wasn't that bad."
Earlier in the day, Evans, a transfer from Morris Catholic, ran the first leg of the 4x100. In between the relay and the 200, she sat with her teammates in the hallway outside of Randolph's gym trying to stay warm.
Senior Katie McIntyre, a resident of Sparta, prevailed in the 400-meter dash on Friday. McIntyre said that taking top honors in the section by a wide margin was important because Pope John won the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Championship by a mere point over North Hunterdon.
"This is good for our confidence level," McIntyre said. "It shows we have the ability to go far."
McIntyre, headed to the University of Dallas in the fall, felt that the weather conditions impacted the times.
"It affected times a bit but we were all on even ground," she said. "It began pouring when we were coming down the straightaway. Once you're in race mode, you block it all out. You forget it and focus on what you came here for. It's the team and that's stronger than any weather we have to go against."
Sarao, of Sandyston, noted that the 4x100 unit succeeded, in part, because it took extreme care in handling the baton.
"We had to be cautious on the handoffs because of the wind," Sarao said. "We had to judge it just right. Fortunately, everything went smoothly."
Katlyn Rymarzow won the pole vault on Friday despite competing in unpleasant conditions.
"My steps were wrong because of the wind," said Rymarzow, a sophomore from Vernon. "The pit was full of water. Still, it was great to win and just get to the next round."
Additional first-place finishers for the Lions were Madison Zavoda (discus), Vicky Sheridan (400 hurdles) and Calleigh Higgins (800 meters). The 4x400 relay team comprised of Lizzie Klein, Vicky Sheridan, Jordan O'Brien and McIntyre took first place.
Evans, joined in the 4x100 by Hitscherich, Sarao and Diana Naphor, indicated that nothing comes between the Lions and their goals.
"It's phenomenal," Evans said. "We knew what we wanted to accomplish. This shows how much we wanted it. No obstacles stand between us and our goals."
Randolph, Villa Walsh triumph
The Rams, with Liz Lansing, Aliyah Huland El and Samantha Kral leading the way, ran their streak of North Jersey Section 1, Group IV titles to five.
Randolph triumphed over Ridgewood, 112-80.
Villa Walsh captured North Jersey, Non-Public B with 110 points. Kent Place was second with 97.5.
The Vikings' top performer was Megan Curham, first in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. Christine Clark was third in the 110 hurdles and Grace McGurn took bronze in javelin.
In North Jersey Section 2, Group III, Mendham and West Morris were second and third, respectively.
In North Jersey Section 1, Group I, Pequannock was second to Hasbrouck Heights. Whippany Park was second in North Jersey Section 2, Group I.
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