ROBBINSVILLE: Borowski a leader for Robbinsville XC

By Justin Feil, The Packet Group
   It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Julia Borowski was running her first races for the Robbinsville High School girls cross country team.
   Now she is running some of her last.
   ”In my head, it seems a bit crazy,” Borowski said. “That’s what I’ll be thinking all week. I’m trying to pretend I’m calm.”
   Borowski has to put on a strong face for a Ravens team that will have three first-year runners again on the line as they race at Holmdel Park on Saturday in the Group II state meet. She likes being a leader for the less experienced Robbinsville runners.
   ”It’s pretty cool,” Borowski said. “I can help them out a bit. I like to talk to them before the race and make sure they don’t get too nervous. It’s cool to have freshmen and girls like Gabby (Manto), who it’s her first year, step up and help us out.”
   The mix of experience and youth paced the Raven girls to third place in the Central Jersey Group II race at Thompson Park last Saturday. Rumson-Fair Haven scored 29 points and Holmdel had 72 points for second. Robbinsville had 98.
   Borowski was seventh in 19:42, Erin Holzbaur was 15th in 20:22, Lauren Kroepfl came in 17th inn 20:32, Manto ran 21:26 for 28th and Enlin Carow closed out the scoring in 31st place in 21:32. Parish Hughes was 42nd and Caitlyn Krueger was 43rd. Kroepfl and Carow are freshmen and Manto is a junior who didn’t run cross country before this year.
   ”I felt we had a good race,” Borowski said. “We have a really tough section and we knew that going in and we figured we’d give it our best shot and see what happens.”
   The mindset will be much the same as they enter the Group II meet. It will be a new experience for half of the team.
   ”I think next week we’ll put everything into it we have,” Borowski said. “It’s a hard group. We’re going to try our best and you never what will happen until it does. We’ll give it everything we have.”
   The Robbinsville boys were second in the CJ II meet. Holmdel won with 43 points and a 16:42 average. Robbinsville had a closer split from 1 to 5 of 52 seconds, and scored 65 points with a 16:56 average. Point Pleasant Boro was third with 78 points.
   ”It was close, and I thought it’d be closer,” said Robbinsville coach Mike Walker. “Even halfway through the race, we were in the right place. Three of our guys stepped up and had better races than they’ve had. Four had about the same or were a little off what they’ve been doing.”
   Zach Michon took second place in 16:27, Christian Roberts was seventh in 16:44 and Richie Kasper was ninth in 16:53. Both Michon and Roberts needed big kicks to finish as high as they did. Patrick Buonamassa was 23rd in 17:18 and Ryan Gross was 24th in 17:19. Dan Milo was 33rd and James Lynch was 37th.
   ”In terms of effort, I couldn’t be more proud,” Walker said. “They went out and laid it on the line. They’re moving on to states and they get another chance. Another goal was to finish top 3 in the group. We ran with one of the best teams in the state, Holmdel. We’re right there. We’re looking forward to the chance at the group meet.”
   In Central Jersey Group III, Conor Murphy’s fourth-place finish paced the Allentown High School boys to eighth place. The junior’s 16:11 clocking puts him among the best in the state as he heads to the Group III state meet as an individual. Alex Byrnes was 33rd, Andrew Fortier took 52nd, Michael Diecidue was 55th and Dan Gregor came in 73rd.
   The Allentown girls were sixth, one spot away from advancing to the Group III state meet. 9-17-38-61-69. Alexandra Tendler moves on as an individual by virtue of her top-10 finish. The senior was ninth in 19:48. Amelia Crawford took 17th, Sara Gutter was 38th, Samantha Tendler came in 61st and Julie Bonham rounded out the scoring in 70th.
   Borowski was happy with her sectional race and the top-10 finish. She will be aiming for another high finish at the Group II meet, where the top three teams advance to the Meet of Champions plus the first 10 individuals whose teams do not make it.
   ”I’m really excited to race at Holmdel and to see what all this training for months can do,” Borowski said. “I think I trained a lot harder this year than I ever have, with more mileage and much faster runs.”
   Borowski was happy to leave Thompson Park behind. She prefers Holmdel Park, the site of the group meets and the Meet of Champions, though her sectional run was encouraging.
   ”Julia Borowski had a great race,” Walker said. “She ran it pretty under control. She kept herself in a good spot and made a late charge to move up late. The only girl that ran faster there was Megan Flynn when she won a sectional championship. That was something I didn’t realize until I was looking through our stats. I was impressed with her race.”
   Borowski’s experience and fitness have her training set up for a big finish. Walker is hopeful that all of his girls can close the season strong after the group meet.
   ”Three of our top five are new to cross country, so most of the team I’ve been looking towards this, getting them peaked for this and into groups,” Walker said. “This is the week we’ve been aiming for. Julia has been close enough with what she wants to do. We’ve been holding off her peak a bit. I’m happy she’s where’s she’s at. Hopefully we time it right with the group meet and she gets into Meet of Champs individually. That was a great (CJ II) time and we’re just starting to back her off. It’s a good sign.”
   Borowski has been steadily improving through her Ravens career. She was a top-20 finisher in the Group I state meet as a freshman and has continued to grow from there.
   ”I really love running cross country for my school,” Borowski said. “It’s been really fun to do it for four years. It’ll be weird when it’s over.”
   She is happy to be finishing on a high note. Her times have consistently been lower than any previous year, and she is hoping that will continue at Holmdel as she looks to qualify for the MOC.
   ”I think I’m ready for it,” Borowski said. “I had a good race at Shore Coaches. I think things should go pretty well for me and the whole team. We’re all ready.”