Madison Brand of Middletown High School South and the team at Colts Neck High School each coasted to titles to highlight the running of the Monmouth County Cross-Country Championships at Holmdel Park.
On a sunny Oct. 18 afternoon in Holmdel, Brand was clocked in a time of 18:39, which is a personal best, to capture first place in the varsity race. She finished ahead of the runner-up Rachel Kenny from Matawan Regional High School, who came in with a time of 18:55.
Colts Neck successfully defended its team title when it recorded 61 points. The Brand-led Middletown South team finished second with 75 points.
Brand, who placed third in the county meet last year, was prepared for this race.
“A lot of the races that we ran before were a bit relaxed,” Brand said. “This one was a little stronger. So to ease into this race, instead of having a lot of tough races like we had in September, really helped.”
Brand admitted that Kenny pressed her throughout the course.
“I think that during the first mile, I was in the lead,” Brand said. “But during the race, she and I were definitely pushing each other the whole way. So I would say around the 2-mile mark was when I was able to break away from her.”
Kenny was pleased with her finish considering the field she had to compete against.
“I knew it was going to be a tough race because I’ve been thinking about this race for a while,” Kenny said. “I felt that there were a lot of great runners that were really pushing the pace, so I thought that was really great.”
Kenny revealed that the competitive style of the county championships forces her to perform at her best. On Oct. 7, Kenny won the Varsity D race in the New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational that was also raced at Holmdel Park.
“I love high-intensity races because I can just try to run fast times,” Kenny said. “I believe I matched my personal record here, so it was really nice to [have a personal record] this early in the season. So I just want to continue to bring my time down as we move forward.”
Colts Neck, which won the Monmouth County varsity race with an average time of 19:53, was guided by Colleen Megerle, who placed fourth in the race with a time of 19:20.
Also contributing to the team title for Colts Neck were Natalie Shapiro, who crossed in sixth place with a time of 19:39; Delia Russo, who ended in seventh with a clocking of 19:41; and Eva Gibson, who came in ninth with a time of 19:48.
Middletown South averaged a time of 19:55 en route to its second-place finish.
Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School, which last won the Monmouth County title in 2015, placed third with 81 points with an average time of 20:08.
Maddy Kopec and Bridget Byrne were the top finishers for RBC. Kopec placed 10th with a time of 19:50, while Byrne was 14th in 20:00.
Matawan, steered by Kenny, finished fourth with 162 points with an average time of 20:38.
Red Bank Regional High School finished fifth with 174 points with an average time of 20:52. Charlot Cochrane placed 11th with a time of 19:50 and Catherine Wimmer was 21st in 20:19 to lead Red Bank Regional.
Howell High School’s Lindsey Marzo came in with a time of 21:02 to place 39th.