Alex Rodgers didn’t think much of competing in Thursday night’s Morris County Indoor Track Championships. After all, the Montville junior hadn’t been practicing the shot put much at all over the last few weeks.
“I didn’t even pick up a shot since last Tuesday,” Rodgers said. “I had been practicing a bit in my garage. But I didn’t think I had a chance to even get a medal.”
The unknown Rodgers watched Delbarton senior Tommy Rhodes throw 52 feet, but Rodgers had no idea where he was in the standings. Rodgers’ previous best was a school record 51-4.
“It was the county championships and I knew I couldn’t hold back,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers’ final throw of 52-01⁄2 beat Rhodes by just one-quarter of an inch, capturing the gold medal at Drew University in the biggest upset of the night.
“I still can’t believe it,” Rodgers said. “I thought (Rhodes) had me by a lot more. I thought he was way ahead of me. I was able to beat my own school record again and I was happy to just secure second. I really didn’t have a feel of where I was. It’s unbelievable. All the work I did in the summer and in the weight room paid off. I never dreamed this was possible.”
Rhodes was second, with the pair of Mount Olive throwers Matt Kraemer and Ethan Weiss finishing third and fourth, respectively.
When the indoor track season began in December, Madison senior Dylan Anderson had no idea how he would fare among the other top competitors in Morris County.
“I didn’t think I had the potential to beat the top people,” Anderson said. “I was just hoping to break into the top six and maybe get a medal.”
As it turned out, Anderson became the top hurdler in the county and Thursday night, he cemented his place among the best when he won the gold medal in the 55-meter hurdles in 7.84 seconds, beating John Walsh of Chatham and teammate and friend Mat Richards.
“It’s kind of unbelievable,” Anderson said. “It’s always great to come out on top. Mat and I always go back and forth. It’s a very friendly rivalry.”
Anderson thought he didn’t have a chance in the finals.
“I’ve been having terrible starts the last couple of meets,” Anderson said. “I was a little worried today. So I got to the blocks and I leaned forward a little more, to put more weight in front of me. It really helped.”
The start at the blocks enabled Anderson to win.
“It’s nice to be the best in something,” Anderson said. “I was hoping to do it and now, I actually did it. It’s a big weight off my shoulders.”
Scherer top hurdler
Randolph sophomore Elly Scherer spent the entire Drew indoor series as the top hurdler, so the pressure was on to capture the gold medal in the 55-meter hurdles Thursday night.
“I didn’t want to know that I was the No. 1 seed,” Scherer said. “I was a little bit nervous. I just wanted to place.”
Scherer showed no signs of the jitters, winning the race in come-from-behind fashion, defeating Simone Kirton of Chatham and Danielle Beniulis of Jefferson in the final strides.
“I felt a little slow getting out of the blocks,” Scherer said. “I was definitely behind when I started. I really wanted it, so I pushed it. I saw the Jefferson girl (Beniulis) ahead of me in the corner of my eye and I wanted to catch her. I think I got her over the last hurdle. I just had a little more left.”
Just enough to claim the county championship.
Cochrane wins two
Kylene Cochrane won two events early, capturing the gold medal in both the 1,600-meter run and the 600-meter run. The West Morris senior dominated the 1,600 in 5:03.83, a solid four seconds ahead of runner-up Mackenzie Barry of Mendham, and won the 600-meters in 1:38.74, a full second ahead of Sierra Tonnesen of Mendham.
Cochrane joked that she would try the shot put and the high jump if it meant helping the Wolfpack earn the team title.
Lyons sets pace
Morristown senior Sean Lyons continued his brilliant indoor season with a victory in the 1,600-meter run, helping the Colonials gain 17 team points in the event.
“I think it was huge to do well right away,” said Lyons, who planned to run in the 3,200-meter run later in the meet. “We know it’s going to come down to the last event, so we want to stay strong in the beginning. It sets the tone for the rest of the meet.”
Lyons said he was sad that defending county champion Josiah Hanko was absent from the meet, still battling the effects of Lyme disease.
“He’s such a great friend, a great kid,” Lyons said. “The competition wasn’t what I wanted. It really stinks that he wasn’t here. I wish he could have run. Hopefully, he’ll be back for the spring.”
Lyons said that he was not looking for a specific time in the 1,600.
“I was trying to conserve some energy for the 3,200,” Lyons said. “In that respect, it’s good that I didn’t have that much competition. But this was a great start to the meet, better than what I expected.”
Mendham junior Christian Kildal-Brandt might not like the 600-meter run, because it’s a hybrid of the 400-meter and 800-meter runs.
“It is a little bit difficult,” Kildal-Brandt said. “I’m moving up a little in distance, so I have to keep loose and focused. I need to be a little more relaxed. I can’t go all out. It’s a weird mix, but I’m getting used to it.”
Kildal-Brandt won the 600-meter run in 1:24.15, defeating tough competitors Rudy Torres and defending county champ in the event Eddie Garcia of Mount Olive.
“I’m still working my way up and I still can’t get used to the pace,” Kildal-Brandt said. “But I’m really happy. I wanted to win and that was the goal. It’s great to be the county champ.”
Kildal-Brandt remained undefeated for the indoor track season, having won all nine races he has competed in.
“By far, it has been my best season,” Kildal-Brandt said.
Delbarton’s Brendan Kenny won the 55-meter dash in meet record time, exploding out of the blocks to finish in 6.54 seconds, breaking the record set by Jeff Sokolowski of Butler in 2000.