Shore Conference Championships
Two course records fell at Ocean County Park on Saturday, as the Shore Conference Championship was held on a perfect morning for cross country racing. The boys race was tight up front for most of the race, with Mike Mazzaccaro of CBA, Mike O’Dowd of Colts Neck, and Kevin Byrne of Red Bank Catholic, leading the field. Mazzaccaro, the defending conference champion, looked strong throughout and was able to overtake the field with a new course record of 15:01. O’Dowd was second in 15:12, followed by Byrne (15:25) and Keenan Huggins-Filozof of Freehold Township (15:26).
Mazzaccaro led CBA to the team title, finishing ahead of Southern Regional 46-104. CBA was able to place three runners in the top eight, and five runners within the top 17, clearly dominating the field. The battle for second place was extremely close, as Southern Regional edged out Freehold Township by just 4 points.
On the girls side, Molly McNamara, who hoped to come out and break 18 minutes for the first time on any course, shattered her own personal best and set a new course record by 6 seconds with her 17:14 finish.
“When I crossed the line, they said ‘That’s a course record’, and I was like ‘Are you sure?’”, said a stunned but thrilled McNamara, after the race. “I came out hoping to break 18:00, but I never expected this.”
McNamara, who is also the defending conference champion, won the Monmouth County Championship last week by 50 seconds. This week she was a full minute ahead of her closest competitor, Tracy Campbell of Wall (18:15). Brianna Feerst of Point Pleasant Beach was 3rd (18:17).
While excited about her own win, McNamara, stuck close to the finish line after her race, eagerly cheering on her teammates in hopes of a team title. Red Bank Catholic indeed came out on top, beating Southern Regional 46-120.
“I’ve been saying since I was a freshman that we could win the Meet of Champions, and the way we ran today, I think that we could actually do it.” said McNamara. “I wouldn’t want to be on any other team.”
All Photos by: Kaitlyn Lavender
Shore Conference Championships Preview
By: Kaitlyn Lavender (Staff Wrier)
This Saturday, the Shore Conference Championships are set to take place at Ocean County Park, bringing together the best teams and individual runners from Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The course is mostly flat, and times should be fast for one of the most competitive meets in the state this season. Based on past performances, particularly at last week’s county championships, here are the teams and individuals that should make the biggest impact.
This year’s girls team race should be an interesting one, as Monmouth County Champion, Red Bank Catholic, matches up against Ocean County Champion, Toms River North. Toms River North is looking to defend their Shore Conference title, while Red Bank Catholic, who placed third last year will look to take it away. Of course, this isn’t just a match up between the two county champions. There are several solid teams that will come to do battle. Southern, Jackson Memorial, and Howell are all capable of finishing in the top spots.
The individual race will probably be less of a surprise. Last year’s champion, Red Bank Catholic’s Molly McNamara, will likely repeat. McNamara won last week’s Monmouth County Championships, as she did in 2009, by 50 seconds over Holmdel’s Lennon Cooper. After McNamara, there should be some pretty intense competition for the next few spots. Point Pleasant Beach standout, Brianna Feerst will look to do well on her home course, but will be challenged by Jenna Dubrow of Jackson Memorial, Lennon Cooper of Holmdel, Hannah Eckstein and Liana Marzani of RBC, Tracy Campbell of Wall, Anne Skimmons of Point Boro, Jillian Smith of Southern, Shannon Nelson of Holmdel, and Georgiana Honrath of Manasquan.
Defending Shore Conference Champions, CBA, should be hard to beat. The Colts dominated at Monmouth County Championships, and should put several runners in the top ten, likely running as a strong pack. There will definitely be a battle, however, for the next few places in the team race. Freehold Township has been doing exceptionally well this season, and was second at last week’s Monmouth County Championships. They placed three runners in the top ten last week, and are a good bet to be just as competitive when matched up against the best in Ocean County.
Assuming that CBA is expected to take the title, Freehold Township hopes to be the top finishing public school. “We were hoping to place second at counties. It’s mentally tough knowing you are running for second place,” said Freehold Township coach Brian Golub. “As far as the shore meet goes, we are looking for a top 5 finish... We would be very happy as the Shore Conference public school champs. We will need to be on top of our game the next few weeks to do something special.” Along with Freehold Township, Toms River North, Colts Neck, Southern Regional, Red Bank Catholic, Toms River South, and Lacey should all be contenders.
Individually, there are quite a few runners who could take the title. RBC’s Kevin Byrne, Colt’s Neck’s Mike O’Dowd, and CBA’s Mike Mazzaccaro should all be within a few seconds of each other. Mazzaccaro is the defending champion, but Byrne took last week’s Monmouth County Championship. Ocean County Champion, Brandon Skeie of Southern, Anton Colasurdo and Noah Jacobs, both of Lacey, Eric Dragonetti of Southern, and Chris Billalba of Toms River North, should also be right there. CBA and Freehold Township’s top runners should also not be discounted to grab the top spots.