At the beginning of the spring season, the Mendham boys track team had a single goal — to repeat as North 2 Group III champions.
The Minutemen never sat down and talked about it, but senior Tom Pavarini said it was just understood by everyone.
But then the season started, and Mendham began to win.
The Minutemen tied for the Summit Relays team title, then won Dodgertown and the Morris Hills Relays. At the same time, they went undefeated in NJAC-National dual meets.
Momentum was building as the Morris County Relays got underway. Head coach Dave Quinn thought “we could have a chance to be among the teams competing for championships … but it was almost ‘a reach for the moon, you’ll land among the stars’ type of thing.”
“We were inspired by past success, and we always wanted more,” Pavarini said. “The best part about our team is, we didn’t have to have a spoken agreement to do that. … Each individual athlete took it upon himself to take charge of his training and attain the success that we wanted for so many years.”
Quinn was watching sophomore Spenser Clouse high jump toward the end of the second day of competition when it all came together. Clouse cleared 6 feet, 2 inches, then 6-4 and 6-5. Sophomore Christian Kildal-Brandt crossed the finish line first in the 4×200. An assistant told Quinn that Mendham had tied for second in the pole vault.
“And I put it together,” Quinn said. “We’re going to win this thing. It all happened in about five minutes. It went from, ‘Wow, it’s going to be close’ to ‘We did it.’ It was kind of a surreal experience.”
Mendham won its first Morris County Relays and overall Morris County Championship this spring – and also defended the sectional title that had captured the boys’ imagination so quickly. The Minutemen are the 2013 All Daily Record Boys Track and Field Team of the Year.
Seniors like Pavarini, sprinter Pat Carney, pole vaulter Adam Mszanski, hurdler Cory Pressl and thrower John Obiedzinski set the tone for Mendham. Quinn called them “extensions of what I wanted done” at practice, ensuring teammates followed the workout plan. But it was the Minutemen’s sophomore class — including Clouse, the team’s only individual county champion — which had a truly breakout season.
Mendham only failed to win one championship, finishing second to Pope John at the NJAC Large Schools.
“We knew we’d be good, but this is the best team I’ve ever been associated with, period,” Quinn said. “The kids were so tough this year. They never said, ‘I don’t know if I can do it.’ They’d get on that line and say to themselves, ‘I’m the best here. I’m going to win this race. No one’s going to outwork me.’ They did that. … Last year, we were good. This year, we were good and tough, track tough.”