A season to remember

Colts Neck High School cross country athletes brought their school and the Freehold Regional High School District nationwide recognition during the fall by taking their performances and their sport to a new level.

Craig Forys joined the ranks of the greatest high school cross country runners New Jersey has ever produced with an unmatched record of excellence.

The Cougars’ senior set six course records, including two of the most honored in the sport — on Van Cortland Park’s 2.5-mile course in New York (12:10.7) and at Holmdel Park (15:16) — during a season that ranks with the best of anyone.

Forys won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Meet of Champions title for a second straight year, he won the Foot Locker North-east Qualifier, and he finished his scholastic career with a second-place performance at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego on Dec. 9 where he summoned his deepest reserves to move from seventh to second place in the final 800 meters of the race.

Fortunately, area fans will still have the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons to enjoy and appreciate Forys.

Meanwhile, the Colts Neck girls were similarly impressive. The Cougars did not lose a cross country meet in New Jersey during the season and they became the first FRHSD team to the win the state’s Meet of Champions title.

The Cougars did it in style, coming up with the second fastest team average in Holmdel Park history and winning by a wide margin (66 points).

That historic performance was enough to convince selectors to rank the Cougars No. 2 in the Northeast Region and for them to gain entry to the Nike Team Nationals in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 2.

The Cougars, who made earning a trip to the Nike Team Nationals their goal since believing they were snubbed for that honor last year, went to Portland to put it all on the line.

Led by their most valuable performer, Ashley Higginson, who won the race, the Cougars finished fourth as a team against the nation’s premier squads. It is not a stretch to say that the team of Higginson, Brianna Jackucewicz, Allison Donaghy, Erin Donaghy, Allie Flott, Kristen O’Dowd, Allison Linnell and Morgan Clark is the best cross country team ever seen in New Jersey. Certainly, the Cougars had the distinction in 2006 of being one of the most outstanding squads in the nation.

Like Forys, Higginson also qualified for the Foot Locker National Championships and finished 22nd in that race — a remarkable feat considering the fact that she flew across the country to compete in two high profile events on back to back weekends.

In 2006, Higginson put together the best season an FRHSD girl has ever produced, leaving her mark at Holmdel Park and Van Cortland Park, where she clocked some of the fastest times ever turned in by a New Jersey runner.

The News Transcript congratulates Craig Forys, Ashley Higginson and the members of the Colts Neck High School girls cross country team for their achievements and the honor they brought to their school and the district, as well the classy way they conducted themselves throughout the long season.

These young people are outstanding examples of the high caliber of student-athletes this area of Monmouth County consistently produces.