By Bridget Andree, Staff Writer
The winter track team ended its season with some impressive races at championship meets that were a testament to the hard work and commitment they demonstrated throughout the long season.
“It’s amazing to see that our runners can work just as hard on the track as they do in the classroom,” head coach Tony Avallone said.
Assistant coach Maria Crowley also noted the dedication and enthusiasm the team showed at every practice. “It’s a very good feeling when you show up and everyone wants to be there.”
The championship meets started with the Frosh-Soph New Jersey Catholic Track Conference (NJCTC) Championship in Toms River on Jan. 23, where freshman Hannah Reynolds brought home the gold for the 200 meter dash (28.47) as well as the 55 meter dash (7.87). Sophomore Cate Toomey tackled the sophomore 3,200 meter run, taking first place with a time of 12:50.23, with fellow sophomore Lexi Salerno finishing just behind her with a second-place time of 12:50.81. Freshman Catherine Stolbof earned third place in the 400 meter run (1:06.50), while in the 800 meters sophomore Gina Rienzo placed third (2.35.70) and freshman Julia LaForgia finished fourth (2:47.42). The freshman 4×400 meter relay of Reynolds, Stolbof, Laforgia and Kelsey O’Kelly won first place.
The Monarchs then competed in the Varsity NJCTC Indoor Championship in Staten Island, NY, on Feb. 7. The 4×800 meter relay of juniors Pallavi Kawatra and Erica O’Kelly and sophomores Salerno and Toomey placed first with a time of 10:30.18.
“My favorite part about running a relay is the connection that I make with my teammates. We are like a family, so I really don’t know what I would do without them,” said Salerno following her relay team’s success.
Next up for the Monarchs runners was the NJSIAA Group Championships in Toms River, NJ. The 4×400 meter relay of Reynolds, Rienzo, Stolbof, and Toomey placed first with a time of 4:21.92. Toomey, who started off the relay, finished the first lap, putting the team in a steady fourth place. After grabbing the baton from Toomey, Rienzo managed to pull the team in third place with Stolbof then moving the team into second during her leg of the race. In the anchor leg position, Reynolds went neck and neck with her opponent for most of the lap, leaning into the tape to claim the team’s victory by a split second. With this performance, the girls advanced to the Meet of Champions.
“It was the most exciting race I’ve ever ran in, and I’m happy to have been able to share the moment with my teammates,” Toomey said after the race.
Rienzo and Reynolds also advanced to the Meet of Champions by finishing sixth in both of their individual events: Rienzo in the 800 meter run (2:33.92) and Reynolds in the 55 meter dash (7.69). Reynolds was one of only two freshmen in the state to advance as an individual to the Meet of Champions.
At the Meet of Champions on Feb 27., also held in Toms River, NJ, the 4×400 relay team ran a 4.19.72, shedding 2.2 seconds off of their best time and placing 33rd. Reynolds finished in 30th place in the 55 meter dash with a time of 7.71, and Rienzo placed 33rd in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:35.57.
“As a whole, we improved with every practice and with every meet we ran in, and we certainly had fun doing it,” sophomore Mairead Mark said.
Both coaches hope to build on the success of the winter season with continued improvement and hard work from their runners during the outdoor spring track season.