By Alexa Sadowski, Sports Editor and Paige Jaenicke, Staff Writer
The varsity, JV and freshman cross country teams each competed in competitive championship meets this season under the leadership of senior captains Olivia Almeida and Caroline Meany, junior captain Ally Lawson, head coach Tony Avallone and assistant coach Chelsea Bollerman. The teams successfully competed at a high level while also building a strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork over the course of the season.
“This team has capitalized on the strong foundation of the past and are exceeding expectations,” Avallone said. “They began on July 11 and many are closing in on about 600 miles of preparation for the state championship.”
With hard work over the summer and wins in several smaller meets versus Keyport and Henry Hudson at the beginning of the year, the team was able to prepare for its more difficult meets. In addition to their team victories, one athlete also set a school record. Sophomore Madeline Barber ran a 19:01 5k at the Shore Conference Championship to break alumna Lexi Salerno’s (‘18) former record.
At the Monmouth County Championship at Holmdel Park on Oct. 17, the freshmen placed third, varsity placed sixth and JV placed seventh. Barber, sophomore Grace Child, sophomore Haven Dora, junior Anna Ferrigine and Lawson led the varsity squad. The team also participated in the Shore Conference Championships on Oct. 24 where the freshmen finished second overall, varsity placed seventh and JV placed eighth.
“I think the greatest success has been seeing our packs [runners 1-5] become solidified,” Bollerman said. “When the team is tighter and stronger together in a pack, they are generally more successful. Everyone has been working their hardest and pushing each other to be their best.”
At the NJISAA Prep State Championships on Nov. 6 at Blair Academy, the team was moved up to the A division and managed to place fourth overall, despite having no seniors due to injuries. Barber finished fourth, Child finished sixth, Dora finished ninth, junior Ally Perri finished 34th, Ferrigine finished 35th and sophomore Kate Hegel placed 43rd.
Just three days later at the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference championship in Morris Plains, the team won the junior varsity championship as Almeida placed first and junior Lucy Retterer placed second.
“Running at the NJCTC was a great experience,” Retterer said. “The freshman and JV teams competed, and everyone on our team PR’ed [got their personal record]. Although it was very cold, we worked together as a team and were able to pull out the victory.”
At the NJSIAA Group Championship at Holmdel Park on Nov. 16, the team placed second in the Non-Public B category behind Villa Walsh. The team had two top 10 finishes, with Barber placing fourth and Child placing eighth. The second-place finish qualified the team for the Meet of Champions, which was held at Holmdel Park on Nov. 23.