Less than 24 hours before the Randolph 4×800 was scheduled to take to the track at the prestigious Penn Relays, assistant coach Kevin Higgins wasn’t even sure the girls would be running at all.
Marisa Lansing, a newcomer to the quartet, had been nursing an injured hamstring all week. At about 6:30 p.m., Higgins got the call that she wouldn’t be able to run the following morning.
Higgins quickly reached out to Margaret Thomson, another sophomore who had been part of the Rams’ foursome at Penn a year ago. Thomson had three exams — biology, accounting and math — but she arranged to compete at the prestigious three-day track and field carnival anyway.
Randolph finished seventh in its heat in 9:29.91, its best of the season and the fastest time in the Daily Record area this spring. Thomson had a season-best of 2:27.9 on the Rams’ third leg, before handing off to junior anchor Liz Wellman.
All four Rams runners had competed at Penn Relays a year ago, with considerably different results – particularly due to crowding and confusion in the exchange zones.
“I was a little nervous at the start, because that sets us up for the whole entire race,” said Randolph sophomore Liz Lansing (2:17.1), who handed off to classmate Carole Harsch in first place. “The beginning is especially aggressive, so you have to be physically and mentally tough.”
Sophomore Micaela Poggi had a PR of 2:24.21 as Mount Olive was 11th in its heat in 9:35.13, a season best. Calleigh Higgins split 2:17.8 as Pope John switched up its lineup and placed 12th in its heat. 9:35.13
Defending champion Edwin Allen of Clarendon, Jamaica (9:05.41), is the No. 1 seed for today’s Championship of America final. Freehold and Columbia, who finished fourth and fifth overall, were the only New Jersey teams to qualify for the final.
Randolph placed 21st overall, and is the third-fastest New Jersey school.
“It was exciting,” Marauders sophomore Sarah Masukewicz said. “You’re surrounded by all these people, and everyone’s really fast.”