By Sydney Riepl, Staff Writer
The winter track team has come to the end of another successful season. With head coaches Tony Avallone and Maria Crowley leading the way, the Monarchs have made an impression on competitors at the county and statewide levels.
Prestigious post-season competitions for the team included the Shore Conference Championships on Jan. 26, the Catholic Track Conference Championships on Feb. 4, the NJSIAA Non-Public B Group Championships on Feb. 18 and the New Jersey Meet of Champions on Feb. 24.
“Competing in these big championship meets feels so surreal because I am racing with girls who are pushing me to my best ability and it’s something I’m so fortunate to have experienced,” senior captain Lexi Salerno said.
The team traveled to the Toms River Bubble for the Shore Conference meet where Senior Cate Toomey placed 25th with a time of 2:32.88 in the 800m run, and in the 400m run, junior Hannah Reynolds came in 23rd with a time of 1:04.43 and senior Gina Rienzo came in 26th with a time of 1:04.76.
The team went on to win the Non-Public B division at the Catholic Track Conference Championships at Ocean Breeze in Staten Island thanks to many season best times and high placings, including sophomore Caroline Meany’s first place finish in the 3200m with a time of 11:50.38, which earned 10 points towards the total Monarch meet score. Rienzo finished 10th in the 600m with a time of 1:45.95, setting a new school record. The 4×800 relay placed second with a time of 10:15.67 and the 4×400 relay came in fifth with a time of 4:18.23.
“It’s so inspiring and rewarding to watch my teammates compete because each meet shows the pure talent each of them has and how much effort they have put in up to this moment on the track,” Salerno said.
Returning to the Toms River Bubble for the NJSIAA Group Championships, a select group of runners competed in various races in hopes of advancing to the Meet of Champions (MOCs) by earning a top-six finish. By the end of the meet, six Monarchs had earned a ticket to the MOCs: Meany (third in the 3200m), Reynolds (sixth in the 55m), Salerno (fourth in both the 800m and 1600m) and the 4×400 relay (third place) of Rienzo, Reynolds, and sophomores Morgan Feiler and Olivia Almeida.
The following week the qualifiers returned to the Bubble to compete in the Meet of Champions. Salerno was the highest individual finisher for the Monarchs, placing 25th in the 800m run with a time of 2:28.58.
“We had to rewrite the school record book this indoor season with 10 individual and relay records set,” Avallone said. “We had nine very talented seniors lead us this season, and they will be truly missed.”
The athletes are proud of the team’s efforts and hopeful for continued success in spring track. “This season went really well, and we had a lot of girls improve their times and a lot of girls advance to the Meet of Champs,” Meany said. “Everyone put in a lot of hard work and effort, and I’m excited for the outdoor season and the accomplishments to come.”