Lady Jags, Piners take home county indoor titles
Howell runners excel at Monmouth County meet

By Mike White
Staff Writer

Lady Jags, Piners take home county indoor titles
Howell runners excel at Monmouth County meet
By Mike White
Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY Howell’s Matt Forys jumps to an early lead during the 3,200-meter race at the Monmouth County Championships at Red Bank Regional on Saturday.CHRIS KELLY Howell’s Matt Forys jumps to an early lead during the 3,200-meter race at the Monmouth County Championships at Red Bank Regional on Saturday.

LITTLE SILVER — Jackson High School girls’ indoor track coach Alton Johnson had a good feeling entering last Wednesday’s Ocean County Championships. After all, his senior-laden squad has remained healthy all season. And team members were looking forward to avenging last year’s runner-up finish.

The Lady Jaguars met little resistance in capturing the title as they easily outdistanced second-place Southern at Red Bank Regional High School.

Jackson compiled a total of 121 points while winning seven of nine events. Southern finished with 40 points.

"I knew we had a very confident team going into the event," Johnson said. "We have stayed healthy all season and the girls have worked very hard. When you have a lot of experience, competing in big meets like this, it is a distinct advantage."

Johnson cited the team’s senior leadership as a key reason for success.

"Working with runners who have been with the team three and four years makes my job that much easier," Johnson said. "The upperclassmen are always working with and helping out the younger girls. We have a lot of talent on this team. So it gives us a chance to rest people when they need it. We’re fortunate to be in that position."

Nicole Montegary won both the 55-meter and 400-meter events. In fact, Jackson took the four top spots in the 55 meters. Following Montegary across the finish line were teammates Jessica Fortune, Joanne Shia and Bryanna Johnson.

"We earned a lot of points by placing a lot of people in the different events," Johnson said. "It’s nice to take first, but those second-, third- and fourth-place finishes add up to be a lot of extra points. We have so much depth on this team, that placing two or more kids in an event isn’t unusual."

Jenna Prendergast had a big night running middle distance events. She captured both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

Johnson praised the work of both Montegary and Prendergast.

"They both had a big night for us," Johnson said. "They are leaders on this team. They realize how important a meet like this is. I was proud of how all the girls responded."

Later in the meet, Montegary combined with Lauren Blake, Katie Chin and Ashley Mlotkiewicz to win the 4×400 relay. Fortune returned to win the 55 hurdles, while Vanessa Michel captured the shot put.

Jackson will spend the next week preparing for the Shore Conference Championships Feb. 4 at Red Bank Regional.

"We want to make sure we’re healthy and fresh," Johnson said. "We use the indoor season as preparation for the outdoor season which begins in another month or so."

At the New Balance Games last Saturday at the 168th Street Armory in Manhattan, Jackson’s 3,200-meter relay team set a new school record.

The quartet of Prendergast, Meghan Faughnan, Asha Arneth and Montegary finished eighth overall with a time of 9:49.32. That time shattered the old school record by 17 seconds, Johnson said.

"Earlier in the week Jenna came to me and asked if she and a couple of the girls could put together a team that would break the school record in the 3,200 relay," Johnson said.

Johnson was surprised at the time.

"No way did I think they would break it by 17 seconds," he said. "All four kids did a great job. It was amazing to watch."

Lakewood boys win championship

The Lakewood High School boys’ indoor track team captured the Ocean County title last week.

The Piners were particularly strong in the 55-meter dash, placing three runners in the top six.

Senior Brian Roebuck won the event. Ed Loney finished second, while Cameron Craig was fifth.

Mike Wittenburg captured the 400 meters, while teammates Ruppert Gill and Jamal Andrews placed fifth and sixth, respectively.

Senior Sydney Murray won the shot put and the quartet of Gill, Roebuck, Andrews and Wittenburg captured the 4×400 relay.

For the girls, Nicia Gunter was fifth in the 55 meters. The team of Danielle Robinson, Tiffany Mayfield, Jan-Noi Jackson and Gunter was fourth in the 4×400 relay.

"It was an exceptional days for the boys’ team," Lakewood coach Jack Boylan said. "Our coaching staff is extremely proud of all the athletes who competed."

Howell athletes perform well at Monmouth County Championships

Howell’s Devin Barnett was another local athlete to win county gold, taking home the 55-meter hurdles title at the Monmouth County Championships at RBR on Saturday.

Barnett had the best qualifying time in the heats, 9.34, but topped that in the final, clocking 9.15.

Howell’s Kellee Hand, the freshman sensation of the cross country season, proved that she will be an impact runner in track, finishing third in the 800 meters behind Red Bank Regional’s state champions Katy (2:16.81) and Amanda (2:17.42) Trotter. Hand posted a 2:23.94 in her first indoor county race.

Hand’s cross country teammate, Leslie Holleran, was sixth in the 3,200 (12:32.24). She was one place behind Colts Neck’s Lianne Price (12:17.17).

Matt Forys of Howell, who is headed for Bucknell University, was third in the boys’ 3,200 (9:51.23), trailing a pair of Red Bank Catholic runners, Conrad Laskowski (9:44.38) and Matt Piccarello (9:48.77).