Morgan Koeppen Leads Southern Regional Girls Indoor Track to Another Championship
Each week during the winter season so far, it seems a different star has risen to the occasion to lead the Southern Regional girls indoor track team in its quest for some sort of trophy. During the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV Championships, it was junior Morgan Koeppen’s chance to take charge.
Individually, Koeppen scored 18 of the Rams’ 46.33 points as they captured the sectional title yet again. Koeppen was the only Southern athlete to place first in an event, taking the top spot in the pole vault after clearing 10 feet. She added a second-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.95 seconds.
Senior Sabrina Woodlee had a solid effort as well, swiping second in the 800-meter run with a personal-best time of 2:18.80 and grabbing the fifth position in the pole vault with a height of 8 feet, 6 inches. Junior Taylor Mulch finished fifth behind Woodlee in the 800, registering a time of 2:20.91.
Koeppen and Woodlee also teamed up with Shannon Lytle and Caitlin Hambor to place third in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 4:06.76, while senior Justine Hosszu snagged the third spot in the shot put by tossing the ball 38 feet, 10¾ inches. Senior Liz O’Hara contributed fourth-place points when she cleared 4 feet, 10 inches in the high jump, and senior Bailey Gellis took fifth place in the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.61 seconds.
Several weeks ago, Southern received a bigger challenge in this year’s Shore Conference Championships than it had faced last year, but the result still was the same. The Rams won the team title, and with more points.
Unlike last year’s conference meet, when only two teams, including the Rams, scored more than 30 points, the Jan. 27 meet featured four teams scoring more than 30 and another just two points off. Nonetheless, Southern tallied 47.5 to get by Middletown North (42) en route to a third straight conference crown. St. John Vianney was third with 34 points, while Red Bank Catholic notched 32 and Howell scored 28.
Mulch was the big scorer of the day, as she won the conference title in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:19.73, took second in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:14.86 and helped the 4x400-meter relay team of Abby Johnson, Shannon Lytle and Woodlee place third with a time of 4:06.57, less than three seconds behind Middletown North and two seconds behind RBC.
Woodlee was Southern’s next-highest scorer, after she not only helped in the relay, but also finished third in the 800 with a time of 2:21.41 and swiped 1.5 points by tying for fifth in the pole vault at 9 feet. Koeppen also had a solid day inside the John Bennett Center in Toms River, scoring second-place points by clearing the bar at 9 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault and adding fourth-place points by blazing to a time of 9.03 seconds in the 55-meter hurdles.
Danielle Sinko and Hosszu contributed four points to the Rams’ total, as Sinko placed fifth in the high jump after clearing the bar at 5 feet and Hosszu tossed the shot put 37 feet, 9¾ inches to place fifth as well.
In 2014, the Rams swiped the conference championship with 41.5 points, and last year they recorded 42.
— David Biggy