Girls Cross Country Running Strong

Bobby Lussier, Staff Writer

The Girls Cross Country team has dominated all year long. Under coaches Mr. and Mrs. Clifton, the Lady Eagles have earned an undefeated 7-0 record, making them division A-North Champions. South recently competed in Monmouth County Championships this past Tuesday, October 16th, racing on one of the toughest 5,000 meter courses in New Jersey at Howell High School. Junior Christiana Rutkowski took 10th place with a time of 19:47, and fellow juniors Brianna Haspel and Cassidy Weimer followed shortly after in 16th and 18th. Rumson-Fair Haven was the only other school to have three runners in the top 20. South took 4th overall, just missing out on the plaque ceremony. The winners were Red Bank Catholic in first, Holmdel in second, and Rumson-Fair Haven stealing third, just 1.4 seconds ahead of South’s average time and 5 points above to clinch third place.

Rutkowski and Haspel led the team to another recent win in the XC Fall Classic in Thompson Park last Saturday. The two juniors placed in the top 20 in the 5,000m Varsity A race with times of 19:51 and 20:29, respectively. South had 6 runners in the top 30 and one of the only 4 freshman runners in the top 40. The girls finished with the fastest average time and captured a tight 11-point win over West Windsor Plainsboro High School, 90-101. The win was especially significant, as South will be running the same course at sectionals in
a few weeks.

The girls’ regular season may be over, but their real competition is just heating up. They are currently training for their rigorous playoff schedule, beginning with the Shore Conference meet on October 25th. The girls then begin their state playoff schedule with sectionals on November 3rd, followed by groups on November 10th and the Meet of Champions on November 17th, should they advance that far.

Senior Lianne Donohue is confident that this team has something special. “Everyone on the team is so dedicated,” Donohue said. “We don’t want to let each other down. We don’t run for ourselves; we run for each other.” Her sentiments are shared by her fellow co-captain Kirsten McLaughlin. “So far this season we have achieved great things,” says McLaughlin, “but what makes our team so close, and what makes us stand out is the fact that we continue to look ahead.”
It has been and hopefully will continue to be a very successful season for the girls cross country team.  It’s hard not to be optimistic with several of the team’s top runners only in their junior year. We’re all looking forward to a successful end to the season, and a very bright future here for Middletown South Girls Cross Country.