Unachukwu scores four at county track meet

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Ada Unachukwu never looks ahead because she never takes anything for granted.

“I try and take it one [event] at a time,” said Marlboro High School’s multievent star. “To focus on the next race instead of the one you’re doing now is not good.”

It wasn’t good for athletes looking to finish ahead of Unachukwu, who was incredible again winning four events at last week’s Monmouth County Championships. She was the Most Outstanding TrackAthlete for her wins in the 100- 200- and 400-meter runs and she won the triple jump in the field.

Of her track events, she was most pleased with the 400, where she broke her own Freehold Regional District record again with a 56.35, beating the defending champion, Melissa Bellin of Rumson-Fair Haven, (57.68) in the process.

“The 400 was one I was most proud of,” she said. “I was not expecting to get the time I received. When I saw the time on the scoreboard, I said ‘wow.’”

Unachukwu began her sweep of the sprints Saturday, taking the 100 final in 12.46. She said it was perfect preparation for the 400 that followed.

“I’m glad I did the 100 first,” she remarked. “It gets me prepared for the 400. It warms my leg muscles up.”

After her monumental 400, Unachukwu still had to run the 200, which proved to be her most challenging.

“I had to gather all my strength,” she noted. “I didn’t care about time as long as I won.”

Her 25.56 got her to the line just ahead of RedBankRegional’sAiyanna James (25.74).

The county championships were held over two days, Wednesday and Saturday. Unachukwu won the first of her four titles onWednesday in the triple jump. She did 37- 1/4 in qualifying and it held up through the finals.

The girls team championship was the most memorable in meet history with three teams finishing within two points. Defending champion Colts came out on the short end with its 52 points, trailing winner Matawan (54) and runner-up Rumson-Fair Haven(53).

Allison Linnell led the Cougars scoring wins in the 1,600 and 3,200.

She scored a front-running victory in the 1,600 meters on Thursday. The Cougar darted into the lead around 250meters into the race and from there it was a solo effort.

“I thought more [runners] would go with me to get a time,” noted Linnell.

A first lap in 75 seconds had 10 meters on the field and no one seemed interested in challenging her the rest of the way, and she coasted to a 5:07.72 victory in her first outdoor county championship. There would be more to follow Saturday.

In the 3,200, Linnell surged to the win in 11:05.78 over early pacesetter Lindsey Lamber of Howell (11:17.74)

Lindsey Rappleyea contributed to the Cougars with a second place in the triple jump (35-10½) and a fourth in the high jump (5-2). The triple jump was a new school record.

Karissa Herrick was second in the 100 hurdles (15.65) and sister Kathlyn Herrick was fifth in the 400 intermediate hurdles (1:06.16) and 400-meter dash (1:01.17).

Marlboro was only six points away from the team title with 48 points. Besides Unachukwu’s 40, Lauren Pietrosh picked up eight with her second place in the 800. She produced a personal best, 2:16.76, and finished .01 ahead of Freehold Township’s Janel Parker (2:16.77).

Freehold Township’sMeghan Donovan put a year of discouragement behind her in the girls high jump. The senior, who had been stuck on 5-2 since last year, finally improved her personal best to 5-4 in finishing first. She was the only jumper to clear that height in the competition.

“It’s been so frustrating,” said Donovan. “I couldn’t get over the bar at 5-4 at the longest time. Sometimes I wasn’t even jumping 5 feet.”

Donovan noted that she had tinkered with her run up to the bar in order to get more knee-drive on her takeoff. The results were quite promising.

The Patriot wasn’t entirely satisfied with her personal best and championship. She had three jumps at 5-6 and was over the bar on her second attempt. Now that she has 5-4 in the bag, 5-6 is her next challenge.

The Pats’ Desiree Reese came up golden in the long jump. Her season’s best, 17-1, topped the field. Teammate Colette Johnson was sixth (15-10½). She took third in the triple jump (34-10 ½).

Tanika Peart was third in the 100 (12.81) and fifth in the 200 (26.91) for the Pats, who were fifth with 41 points.

Howell’s Lindsey Lambert was third in the 1,600 (5:11.75) before taking second in the 3,200.

Jackie Tillotson was second in the pole vault (9-0) for Howell with teammate Kellie Bresz (8-0), fifth.

The Rebels’ Maggie Gilbertson was third in the high jump (5-2); Heather Tallman, fourth in the discus (101-5); Melissa Parato, sixth in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (1:06.25); and Norell Aabernath, sixth in the javelin (104-4).