FAST COMPANY: Wilberforce School track stars, from left, Gwen Mersereau, Laura Prothero, Adeline Edwards, and Sophia Park are all smiles after they finished first in the 4×800-meter relay at the Mercer County Track and Field championships on Memorial Day weekend. The quartet clocked a school-record time of 9:55.75 in winning the program’s first-ever county relay title. Wilberforce will be competing in the NJSIAA Non-Public championship meet this weekend. (Photo provided courtesy of Lois Szeliga)
By Bill Alden
Although the Wilberforce School girls’ 4×800-meter relay took first at the Mercer County Relays earlier this spring, Lois Szeliga knows that guaranteed nothing when the quartet competed at the county meet on Memorial Day weekend.
“Because there are so many relays, coaches have to strategize what relay are we going to put our A team in,” said Wilberforce track head coach Szeliga, referring to the relays competition.
“You only have so many girls that can run certain distances. The county meet is the real test, you only have the 4×100, the 4×400, and 4×800 so you are getting everybody’s A team.”
The group of Gwen Mersereau, Laura Prothero, Adeline Edwards, and Sophia Park passed that test with flying colors at the Mercer County Track and Field championship meet at Robbinsville, taking first in a school-record time of 9:55.75 as they earned the program’s first-ever county relay title.
“We were really excited, we thought we could do well but the big surprise was breaking 10 minutes and just how well they did,” said Szeliga. “They had their eyes on that all year because there is something about the relay, it just multiplies the joy because it is with your teammates. That is what they love the most. They couldn’t stop talking about the 4×8, they were really excited to compete at counties.”
Freshmen Mersereau and Edwards, who took second and third respectively in the girls’ 800, have made an instant impact this spring.
“Gwen is an experienced racer and Adeline is an athlete who just started track,” said Szeliga of the pair, who combined with Park and Georgie Pandolfo to take fourth in the 4×400 relay. “They are great for each other, they push each other. It brings excitement for the future.”
In addition to Mersereau and Edwards, a number of other athletes excelled at the county meet. Junior Park took eighth in the 800 and ninth in the 1,600 while sophomore Maria Madigan placed sixth in the 400 in a school record time of 1:01.14. The squad’s top thrower, Jenna Fischer, set school records as she took 13th in the javelin (77’1) and 15th in the shot put (26’5). more