Ever since Lauren Princz shocked herself and the field to win the 200m dash at the Meet of Champions as a freshman in 2018, she has been burning up tracks all across New Jersey.
The Egg Harbor sprint star, who has smashed several county records, and racked up numerous championships, including the 55m dash at the 2020 Indoor Meet of Champions, added to her remarkable resume last weekend when she struck for three gold medals to lead Egg Harbor to its first ever State Group 4 title.
The electrifying Princz won the 100 in 11.92 (she's run a NJ#1 11.76 this season), the 200 in a NJ#1 24.23, and anchored the winning 4x100 that ran a NJ#1 47.79. Princz has now captured seven individual state group titles (indoors and outdoors combined) in her career.
While ecstatic with her performance, Princz isn't satisfied yet.
She wants more!
Princz wants to put an exclamation point on her high school career by winning three golds medals (100, 200/4x100) at Saturday's Meet of Champions.
NJ MileSplit caught up with Princz to get her thoughts on going for the triple at the M of C, her track and field journey, her legacy, her decision to continue her career at Penn State, and much more.
So, kick back and enjoy our latest installment of Feature Friday as we shine the spotlight on Egg Harbor's sizzling senior Lauren Princz, who has been the most dominant sprinter in the state during her high school years.
Lauren Princz Interview
NJM: What's your reaction to what you accomplished last weekend, winning three gold medals by placing first in the 100 in 11.92, the 200 in a NJ#1 24.23, and anchoring the 4x100 to victory? You must be thrilled with how you competed!
I feel blessed that I won three golds at states. It was a goal from the beginning of the season and I am very happy to have achieved it. I also felt relieved because I feel that Group 4 is the most competitive Group, and there were a lot of great competitors in all three events.
What does it mean to you to lead Egg Harbor to its first State Group 4 title ever, Lauren? Personally, you had already won just about every possible title in the state except a state team championship. So, it must have felt great to finally achieve that!
It is very exciting that our team won its first State Group Title. It is the first in school history and we worked hard to achieve that goal. We had a small team and probably weren't considered to be a contender for the title at the beginning of the season. It was a total team effort. We got big points in a lot of different events. Mariah Stephens won Triple Jump and was a part of the 4x100 team. Michaela Pomatto took second in the discus. Anne Rutledge took third in the 400mh and 5th in the 400m dash, and was part of the 4 x 100. Jayda Greene ran a great first leg of the 4x100. I'm proud of all of my teammates and the coaches who had us ready for the meet.
You have already established yourself as the state's most dominant sprinter over your career with 2 Meet of Champions titles and seven individual State Group titles, but how much would it mean to you to win three more golds at the Meet of Champions this Saturday? That would really be going out with a bang. How important is it for you to win all three and what do you feel that would do for your legacy in this state, and how you're remembered?
It would mean the world to me to win three golds at Meet of Champions in my final high school meet. I've been working hard for these moments and I would love to see good results. It was tough missing a whole season because of COVID. It's really important to me to try and win those titles this Saturday because it's my last meet running for Egg Harbor Township and for the state of New Jersey. I'm just trying to leave my mark before I leave for college.
What are your goals for your three races? I'm sure you want to PR in the 100 and 200 and help your team break the school record in the 4x100 of 47.25 that you anchored as a freshman? What times are you hoping to hit?
I've been working really hard all spring and I'm hoping that it pays off on Saturday. My goal is to run my best times of my track career. For the relay, I hope all four of us run a strong race and have clean hand-offs. We've been improving every meet, so hopefully we will run our best time of the year.
How do you feel about being the favorite in your races? Do you like being the hunted? Does it fuel your fire even more to know that you are expected to win?
It makes me a little nervous to say I'm the favorite in the races, but I have high expectations for myself and I run my best races under pressure. I am running with the best girls in the state so hopefully I will be running my best times of my career.
You burst on the scene in the state when you won the 200 at the Meet of Champs as a freshman in a PR of 23.90. Looking back, what was the moment like for you and what's it been like to live up to the hype of being a big star your whole career?
It's surreal that I won as a freshman. There were so many strong upperclassmen in that final. I felt like I had a really good start and then I felt the pressure trying to hold off Shakira (Dancy) and Dennisha (Page) at the end. That is my proudest achievement so far. I don't know about being called a big star, but I really appreciate the love and support from other athletes and coaches. I try to set a good example for my teammates by giving my all at every practice. I'm thankful about the results of the hard work.
Which race is your favorite to run and why?
My favorite race is the 200m dash because I love to run the curve. It is my favorite part of the race.
What are your racing plans after the Meet of Champions? Are you competing at any National meets?
My plans after the Meet of Champions are to stay in shape and be ready to go to Penn State. I will not be competing in any National meets because they are too far away.
How, when and why did you get involved in track and field? How did the whole track and field thing happen?
My dad used to take my brothers and I to the track when I was 5, when Ocean City used to have open track nights. My dad used to make me run all the events from 50m to the 800m race. Then when I was 11, I joined the Mays Landing Express club team with Coach John Whaley. It was a little rough at first but as time went on I started to have more success in the short sprint races.
What do you love the most about being a track and field athlete and about being a sprinter?
I love being a part of a team and getting to know other athletes at meets. One great thing about being a track athlete is everyone is supportive of each other, even the athletes from the other schools. I love sprints because they are short and the crowd really gets into it.
When would you say you had your first huge breakthrough moment when you realized you could be a great sprinter?
When I was in 8th grade during winter track, I participated in the Colgate Women's Games, and the USATF Indoor Youth Nationals. I won the 55m Middle School Finals at the Armory in front of one of the largest crowds I've ever ran in front of, and won the USATF 13-14 year old girls 55m at Ocean Breeze a few weeks later.
What do you feel are your greatest strengths as a sprinter?
I feel like I am strong at the start of the race, especially running the curve in the 200m. I'm also very competitive and that helps push me in big races.
Who is your favorite college/pro sprinter to watch and why? And what have you learned from watching them?
I have so many. My all time favorite is Allyson Felix, She is awesome in the 200 and the greatest of all time. Sha'Carri Richardson is my favorite in the 100m right now. I also love the Jersey girls. I had a chance to meet Sydney McLaughlin a few times, and I ran against Athing Mu in a 400m when I was 11. Finally, I have to give a shout out to Talitha Diggs who is amazing in all sprint events. I always look up to her. I got to hang out with her a few times at indoor meets at Ocean Breeze and at the Penn Relays.
What are your biggest long-term goals in track and field for college and beyond?
My goals are to improve every year, have success in the Big 10, and hopefully compete at the NCAA Track and Field Championships and the Olympics.
What was it about Penn State that made you decide to continue your track and field and your academic career there?
It was a tough year to get recruited. Because of the dead period, I didn't get to go on any official visits. All recruiting contact was through the telephone or Zoom. There were a few schools I really liked, but I felt a good connection with Coach Tuck. In April, I was able to visit the school and meet some of my teammates. It just seemed like a good fit.
What type of things do you like to do when you're not practicing, racing, or doing schoolwork? Have any hobbies or are you involved in any other sports or clubs/activities at school?
I enjoy hanging out with my friends, working out with my trainer.