Freehold Township High School’s Ciara Roche and Howell High School’s Niamh Hayes followed up their outstanding cross-country campaigns with even better indoor track and field seasons. Both won state championships during a record-setting year.
The Cornell University-bound Roche dominated in the 1,600 meters, winning Monmouth County, Shore Conference, NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV and overall Group IV championships and was runner-up at the Meet of Champions (MOC), lowering her indoor best to 4:51.18, which was a new indoor Freehold Regional High School District record. At the county meet, she broke the meet record by clocking 4:51.86.
Roche earned an invitation to the prestigious Millrose Games, where she finished seventh in the Girls High School Mile, running an indoor personal best of 4:54.17 and again setting a new district standard.
The Patriots’ senior doubled at the state sectional by capturing the 800 meters in the fastest time run by a district runner under cover this year, 2:16.15.
Roche is ready to set new records during the spring season outdoors. Her final outdoor campaign will begin in earnest at the Penn Relays April 21-23.
Hayes was dominant in the 3,200, winning county, conference and sectional (South Jersey, Group IV) championships in her finest indoor season to date.
The Rebels’ junior lowered her personal best to 10:56.13 when she won her first indoor state sectional championship. She broke the meet record at the county championships, becoming the first runner to break 11 minutes at the meet with her time of 10:58.25.
Hayes also ran 5:06.58 for the 1,600 and 10:30.65 for the 3,000 during what was a very successful year.
Howell shot putter Stephanie Bock was remarkably consistent in an event not known for it. Every week, it seemed she kept improving on her personal best while establishing herself as one of the state’s best with a second-place finish in the county, third-place showing in the conference, second-place performance in South Jersey, Group IV and third-place finish at the Group IV championships. She kept getting closer and closer to 40 feet each week until she finally surpassed it at the group championships with a big throw of 41-9¼. She ended her under cover season finishing ninth at the MOC and 10th at the Eastern States meet.
Now that the senior has finally surpassed 40 feet, she’ll be ready for a big outdoor season. Bock is also a very talented discus thrower, which she will pick up in the spring. The versatile thrower also competes in the javelin.
Roche, Hayes and Bock are the headliners on the News Transcript’s 2016 All-Freehold Regional High School District Girls Indoor Track and Field Team. Completing the squad are sprinters/hurdlers Giselle Maragoto of Freehold Township, Danielle Spano of Marlboro High School, Victoria Caufield of Howell and Chisom Chinedu of Freehold High School; distance runners Roche, Hayes and Stephanie O’Horo of Colts Neck High School; and Howell’s 4×400 relay team of Caufield, Megan Baretto, Amanda Verdoi and Alanna Baker.
The All-District Field athletes are Bock, Alicia Zhou of Marlboro and Alexandra Petruch of Freehold Township.
Spano was the top 200 and 400 sprinter. She was the only district runner to qualify for the 200 at the MOC, where she finished 12th. She was 14th at the Eastern States (26.15). In the 400, the Mustangs’ sprinter was ninth in the county, eighth in the conference and fifth in Central Jersey, Group IV (1:00.83), running the fastest time in the district in 2016. The junior also ran the 55 dash.
Sprinter Maragoto was fifth in the county, 10th in the conference and 11th in Central Jersey, Group IV in the 55 dash (7.67).
O’Horo finished seventh in the county, third in the conference and third in Central Jersey, Group III with a best time of 2:23.19 in the 800. The junior also ran the 1,600 and 3,200 and ran a leg on the Cougars’ 4×400 team that was the Central Jersey, Group III runner-up.
Chinedu had a solid season leaping over the barriers. She was sixth in the county, fifth in Central Jersey, Group III and 10th in Group III with the fastest time of the season at 9.11. The Colonials’ junior is also a good sprinter.
The versatile Zhou runs the hurdles and sprints in addition to competing in the pole vault. She has a personal best of 10-0 in the pole vault and was fourth in the conference, third in Central Jersey, Group IV and eighth in Group IV.
Petruch was the runner-up in the high jump at the county championships and was eighth in Central Jersey, Group IV (4-10). She had the best championship finish of any of the district’s jumpers.
Howell’s 4×400 team of Baker, Barreto, Verdoi and Caufield turned in the fastest time of the year (4:14.84). They were sixth in the county, fourth in the conference and eighth in South Jersey, Group IV.