Morristown tops distance races at Morris County Relays

Morristown tops distance races at Morris County Relays


Morristown tops distance races at Morris County Relays



Morristown wanted to make sure that people realized just how dominant the Colonials have been in the distance races during the indoor track season.

“It was really important to set the tone early,” said senior Sean Lyons, who ran the anchor leg in both the Colonials’ gold medal winning distance medley relay and the 4-by-800-meter relay at Monday’s Morris County Relays championships at Drew University

“We had high goals and wanted to set school records,” Lyons said.

Sure enough, the Colonials went one better. Led by Lyons, the Colonials set a new meet record in the 4×800, crossing the finish line in 8:22.21, breaking the old record, also set by Morristown four years ago.

“Greg (Arabagian) and I tried to turn it on,” Lyons said. “We worked so hard on these relays. We wanted to stay on top all the way through.”

“We might not go out our hardest individually, but on a day like today, we’re not running for ourselves,” said Arabagian, who ran the first leg in both winning relays. “We’re running for each other. We’re all best friends and we can’t let each other down.”

John Vallacchi was also a part of both gold medal winning teams for the Colonials.

Delbarton, Mount Olive leads

Unfortunately for the Colonials, the rest of the day didn’t go as well, as Delbarton soared to the lead and appeared to have won its second straight boys relays championship.

After seven events, the Green Wave led Morris Hills, 46-31, with Morristown third and Randolph fourth.

And after seven events, Mount Olive, thanks to the exploits of the explosive Keturah Orji, has a solid 37-24 lead over Mendham.

The Marauders set a new meet record in the 4-by-200-meter relay, with Orji running the anchor leg, in 1:49.13, breaking the old mark of 1:49.72 set by Chatham in 2006.

Alicia Warren, Suzanne Nimoh, Micaela Poggi and Orji won the gold medal for the Marauders.

Madison avoids trouble

Madison had very high hopes of breaking a long-standing school record in the shuttle hurdles relay.

There was only one problem. Three-fourths of the hurdles relay team had to endure their own adversity prior to the Morris County Relays championships.

Abe Gertler was battling a serious back injury, one that kept the senior out of action for a while and forced him to wear a brace in order to compete.

“I hurt it warming up for the hurdles a few weeks ago,” Gertler said. “I wasn’t sure if I could run. I just hoped I could finish the race.”

Teammate Mat Richards did one better. He fell into his fireplace Sunday night, sending Richards to Morristown Medical Center with second degree burns to his hands.

“I was putting a log on the fire and I fell in,” said Richards, wearing gauze and medical tape to cover his wounds. “I caught my hands on some hot bricks. But there wasn’t a question of me not running today. Writing in school was a little weird. It hardly worked. But I was going to run.”

And to cap off the perfect day, A.J. Ding was late coming to the meet, with his teammates wondering whether he would be able to arrive on time.

But the Dodgers had that one thing in mind.

“We knew that the school record was possible,” said senior Dylan Anderson, who started the Dodgers off on the right foot. “I knew I was going to run against the toughest runners, so I had to get off to a good start. I knew the school record was going to be close.”

Anderson handed the baton to Gertler.

“Not screwing it up was definitely the object,” Gertler said. “We were ahead, so I knew I had to keep it going.”

Next came Ding.

“The No. 1 thing for me was to keep the lead,” Ding said. “I was hoping to slice a little off the record. I felt pretty good.”

Ding kept the lead and handed it to Richards, who shook off the pain in his hands to bring home the gold medal and the school record. Richards crossed the line in 31.31 seconds, breaking the old school record of 32.5 set in 1985, before any of the current Dodgers were even born.

“It’s actually pretty impressive, considering what we went through,” Richards said. “Our goal was to beat the record, but to do it by a second and a half is pretty impressive.”

Wolfpack sets school mark in DMR

All day prior to the Morris County Relays championships, the West Morris quartet of Brennan Sharkey, Katie Sabatino, Meghan Lloyd and standout Kylene Cochrane thought about the possibility of setting a new school record in the distance medley relay.

“We were definitely going for the school record,” said Sabatino, a senior. “We wanted to have our own legacy.”

“It was really important to all of us,” said Sharkey, also a senior.

So Sharkey went out in the first leg and challenged Randolph’s Liz Wellman every step of the way.

“I was trying to get as close to first as possible,” said Sharkey, who enjoyed a breakthrough season in cross country in the fall. “I felt I could contribute if I got out fast.”

It was then Sabatino’s turn.

“I knew I had to run my best,” Sabatino said. “I was just trying to stay in the same position.”

When Sabatino handed the baton to Lloyd, the Wolfpack was still in second.

Up stepped Lloyd, whose name didn’t even appear on the result sheet.

“The one thing on my mind was the school record,” Lloyd said. “I wanted to do better than I did.”

When Lloyd passed the baton to Cochrane, the Wolfpack fell into third place.

“I knew she (Cochrane) would make it up,” Lloyd said. “I really wasn’t that worried.”

Neither was Cochrane, who won both the 1,000 and 1,600-meter runs Saturday at the Pietrewicz Polar Bear Invitational.

“I knew who was running with me, but I really wanted this,” Cochrane said.

Cochrane outkicked fellow cross country standouts Margaret Thomson of Randolph, Mackenzie Barry of Mendham and Sarah Masukewicz of Mount Olive to win the race in 12:38.91, shattering the old school mark of 12:47.60 set last year.

Incrediby, Thomson, Barry and Masukewicz were all First Team All Daily Record honorees in cross country last fall, along with Wolfpack members Sharkey and Cochrane.

“It was a tough race,” Cochrane said. “I knew the record was a possibility. It’s a great feeling to do this my senior year. All the strategy we did with each other all day paid off.”

Cochrane would not reveal the top secret strategy.

“But I did get to cheer a little,” said Cochrane, one of the most enthusiastic runners in terms of supporting her teammates.

Shot put battles put off for now

Ethan Weiss and Matt Kraemer have been best friends since elementary school, but the two Mount Olive seniors find themselves in a bit of a predicament this indoor track season. They are currently the two best shot put throwers in Morris County.

“We go back and forth and feed off each other,” Kraemer said. “It’s great to have a partner like Ethan who can push me.”

Monday, the two friends let their rivalry simmer down for a day, as they competed as a tandem in the shot put relay.

For the second straight meet, Weiss got the better of his buddy, throwing 50-4½, while Kraemer threw 50-3¾. But the two combined to win the shot put relay with a combined throw of 100-8¼, better than Morris Hills (92-3¾) and Delbarton (89-11¾).

“We had 100 feet on our minds, 50 for each of us,” Weiss said. “We made sure we had a commanding lead.”

However, the competition remained between the friends.

“He got 50 (feet) first,” Weiss said. “Since he got it, I had to get it. He pushed me.”

“I think it’s all a lot of fun,” Kraemer said. “We knew we had this meet coming up and we did what we wanted to do.”


More USA TODAY High School Sports