QP Sprinter Sets Sights On 3rd Title

The Record
January 2002
She didn't make the finals of the 55 meters at the Seton Hall Invitational and she was beaten by Kennedy's Tawana Watkins at the Season Opener 55.

But don't discount the possibility of Takara Wilks of Queen of Peace winning her third straight State Meet of Champions 55-meters title on Feb. 3 at Princeton.

Wilks won her second straight title in 7.25 seconds after capturing the Colgate Winter Games as a sophomore, and then a bad back knocked her out of her second straight outdoor season.

"I didn't run for 8 1/2 months," said Wilks, a junior. "But I got lots of therapy, and decided not to have surgery, and in the beginning of November, I started to run again."

"I never doubted I'd come back," said Wilks last week. "You can't expect to win every race, but I didn't feel any pressure because I still have the rest of this year and next year. And this year, I'm finally going to run outdoors."

ANOTHER HURDLE TO CLEAR: Mahwah's Greg Molnar admits he's better at the 110-meter hurdles outdoors than he is at 55 meters indoors. But that won't stop him from trying to be North Jersey's top hurdler this winter as well.

"I have good form and that serves me well in a longer race," said Molnar, who was third behind Union Hill and Memorial runners at the Season Opener. "My start isn't that good and I need to get better. I hit the fourth [of five hurdles] and that cost me the race. I just got a little too close to the hurdle."

"I think I have a lot more strength this year from running cross-country, even though I didn't do that well," said Molnar, who was the North 1, Group 2 champion in the spring and who was fifth in the Bergen Meet of Champions. "That should help me get even better by the time spring comes around."

TITLE CONSIDERATIONS: Don't misunderstand West Milford coach Scott Copperman. He likes the idea of a Northern Hills Conference winter track championship just fine. It's that holding it 22 days after the season starts comes a little too early to suit him.

"To have this meet so early in the season and so close after vacation makes things difficult," says Copperman, whose boys and girls teams are both among the favorites in the meet at Drew University on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. "It makes it especially hard with the State Relays [for Groups 2 and 3] the next day."

But Copperman concedes that the difficulties in getting an appropriate facility, both for the league meet and State meets, makes it hard for the season to follow the same rhythm that the spring one does.

Copperman points to West Orange and perhaps Clifford Scott as the favorites to win titles Saturday, although he concedes that a few wins by his girls team could boost them to the title.

"We need to do well in the high jump and shot put and maybe Caitlin Schopp can win either the 400 or 800," said Copperman. "West Orange is tough, though, and Clifford Scott has some great sprinters and hurdlers."

Look for Passaic Valley's Jesse Mizzone to win whatever distance race she enters even as she continues to recover from mononucleosis. And Butler sophomore Rebecca Baskinger should score highly in the hurdles and sprint and hopes to improve on her North Jersey-leading 5-4 high jump.

Four-time defending boys champ Wayne Valley, a 58-56 winner over West Milford last winter, has graduated most of its points winners from last season.

The State Group 2 and 3 Relays are Sunday at Jadwin Gym in Princeton, followed by Groups 1 and 4 on Jan. 13. The event to watch might be the Group 2 girls shot put, which features the Northern Valley at Demarest team of Jessica and Kelly Fazekas. The duo, who threw 42-0 and a Bergen County record 44-5 two weeks ago in their only meet of the winter, could be the best twosome since the Plainfield pair of Kim Hicks and Nicole Sims a decade ago.

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