Len Pietrewicz’s lasting memory from the outdoor track and field season is anger and frustration.
There were only a few events at Morris County Relays, and the long-time Randolph head coach had all but given up. The Rams had been disqualified from the distance medley, as well as the shuttle hurdles, Pietrewicz’s “pride and joy.”
Right before the 4×800, Pietrewicz even stopped keeping track of all the teams’ points.
But that’s when Randolph’s young distance runners showed the spark they had during cross country season. The Rams finished third in the 4×800, and went on to what is now called “the ugly win” at the Morris County Relays by six points over Mount Olive.
Pietrewicz and assistant coaches Kevin Higgins and Andrew Finland were astonished.
“We proved even on one of our worst days, we’re still a good team,” freshman distance runner Carole Harsch said. “Spring is always Randolph’s season. We always seem to do better in spring. Our coaches were trying to pump us up, saying we’re going to redeem ourselves. Coach P really wanted us to come back and show Morris County that Randolph is an amazing track team. We didn’t want to disappoint him.”
It was Randolph’s third straight County Relays title. The girls also extended their dual-meet winning streak to 25 in a row dating back to 2009. The Rams won their fourth straight North 1 Group IV title as well.
It was a significant turnaround for Randolph, the 2012 All Daily Record Girls Outdoor Track and Field Team of the Year.
Freshman Liz Lansing joined the team for the first time, winning the 1,600 meters at the Morris County Championships – and again at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Sophomore Aliyah Huland El, a volleyball and basketball player, covered the jumps and also became a reliable thrower. Sprinters Lynn Petrella and Aimee Mehta returned from injuries and illness. Rehabbing after a stress fracture, senior Samantha Jones was able to train with and help guide the young distance runners.
Pietrewicz recognized five freshmen – Mehta, Harsch, Lansing, distance runner Margaret Thomson and jumper/hurdler Katja Brackelmanns-Puig – all together at the team’s banquet.
“They didn’t seem to be affected by anything,” senior thrower Lisbeth Lopez said. “Over the years, there’s always been so much pressure for the younger kids to perform. This year, Coach said, ‘You need to get the job done,’ but it was more laid back. … We were most definitely focused and determined, but at the same time, relaxed.”