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Bellaran shines as Monmouth sweeps MAAC indoor track

Eric Sucar
Manalapan’s Chris Donahue competes in the 400-meter dash during the Shore Conference Track & Field Championships held at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River on January 27.

With former high school stars from the area making significant contributions, the Monmouth University men’s and women’s track and field teams swept the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Indoor Championships.

This was the third straight year head coach Joe Compagni’s Hawks swept both championships. The women rolled up 205 points and the men 170 in their respective wins.

The championships were held at the New Balance Armory in New York, New York, Feb. 20-21.

Lindsey Bellaran, the former Red Bank Catholic High School great who transferred to Monmouth from Clemson University, led ex-Shore Conference standout contributors. The junior was named Women’s Track Most Outstanding Performer. Bellaran won the 800 meters (2:10.29) and set a school record for the mile run (4:48.63) in finishing second. The junior anchored Monmouth’s victorious Distance Medley Relay team to a conference record (11:44.68).

Kendal Hand, who starred at Howell High School, ran the 800-meter leg on the record-setting relay team that included Jenna Cupp (Newark Valley) and Vanessa Dautruche (Kingsway Regional), who ran the 1,200 and 400 legs. Bellaran ran the closing 1,600.

Hand also took third in the 800 (2:13.08), which was a sweep from first through third for Monmouth.

On the men’s side, Eric Kahana (Freehold) was second in the 200-meter dash (21.74) and was a member of the Hawks’ victorious 4×400 relay (3:18.73) that included Geordan Ferguson (Manchester), Dylan Capwell (Hopatcong) and Malcolm Chavis (Roxbury).

Colton Lambert (Howell) was fourth in the pole vault (14-9). On the track, Joe Cawley (Raritan) took fourth in the 800 (1:54.89).

Monmouth’s MAAC champions were for the women were Domoah Kuto-Akoi (Silver Springs, Maryland) in the 60-meter dash (7.67) and the 4×400 team (3:49.18) of Nia Driver (Lawrence), Chandi Piiru (Union Catholic), McKenna Coakley (Woodbridge) and Tionna Garner (Trenton Catholic).

Men capturing conference titles included Bryan Sasoo (Laurel, Maryland), 60-meter dash (6.71); Ferguson, 60-meter hurdles (8:07); Capwell, 800 meters (1:50.71) and Corey Murphy, shot put (57-4¼). Sasoo set a MAAC and school record in the 60 dash.

“I’m really proud of our team and staff,” said Compagni in a prepared statement from the university. “This was a hard-fought win with tremendous efforts from a lot of people.”

Compagni and his staff were the MAAC Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year. Compagni’s track and field and cross-country teams have been Monmouth’s most successful athletic programs. This was the fifth straight winter that the men and women swept indoor conference championships. The last three have been in the MAAC and the first two were with the Northeast Conference.

Compagni has won conference Coach of the Year honors 42 times.

Next up for the Hawks are the IC4A and ECAC Championships March 4-5 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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