By Jim Hintelmann
HOLMDEL – There was something old and something new at the annual Monmouth County Cross Country Championships Tuesday at Holmdel Park.
The old was another one-sided win by Christian Brothers in the boys race, but the new was Rumson-Fair Haven Regional winning its first Monmouth County girls championship in the school’s history.
The Lady Bulldogs had three girls run under 20 minutes to trim defending champion Red Bank Catholic 76-53, and they also had the individual winner in junior Rachel Christ, who broke the school Holmdel Park course record with a time of 19:09.
The win didn’t come as a surprise to Rumson coach Henry Mercer, whose team is currently enjoying its finest season ever. It finished fifth in this meet last year.
“We really believed that we would have the best group ever,” said Mercer, whose team had previously won its division in the Manhattan Invitational, Shore Coaches Invitational and the St. Dominic’s Invitational.
“The best performance was by Hannah Anderson (5th 19:41),” he said. “She is only a freshman, but I think the key to our success was Shannon McCarthy (11th, 19:57). She played field hockey last year, but decided to come out for cross country this season.”
Rounding out Rumson’s top five were Molly Hellman (20:23) and Isabella Maita (20:38), who were 18th and 23rd respectively.
Christ was an easy winner defeating runner-up Sara Connelly of St. John Vianney (19:28) by 75 yards.
“I just wanted to stay positive and do as well as I could,” said Christ, whose best event in outdoor track was the 800. “I wanted to trust my training. I took the lead for good in the last half mile. There were a few girls around me when I went ahead.”
This was the third individual win of the season for Christ.
“I won my class race at the Bernie McGee Invitational and my division at the Manhattan meet,” she said. “My best previous time at Holmdel was 19:30, but I didn’t do that well in this race last year.”
RBC, which had lost several top runners by graduation, including Molly McNamara, now running at Stanford, was led by Lian Marzano, who placed eighth at 19:45.
CBA, as expected, rolled to an easy team victory with a 22-91 win over runner up Freehold Township, despite resting one of its top runners, Tim Gorman.
George Kelly and Matt Clemens eased to a virtual tie with Kelly being given the win. Both runners clocked 16:25. Teammate Billy Bragg was third in 16:28 while Aaron Liberatore (16:30) and Scott Zapcic (16:36) were seventh and ninth respectively to round out CBA’s scoring. Colts Neck’s Riley Leder was fourth in 16:30.
Kelly, a senior, is already looking ahead to bigger things.
“Our major goal is to win the national championship,” said Kelly. CBA is currently ranked No 1 nationally in several cross country polls. “Individually, I would like to win the Meet of Champions and break 16 minutes. My previous fastest time here was 16:01
“We’ll compete in the Nationals in December,” said Kelly. “That should decide the national champion.”