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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Dec 07, 2017

Middletown South Girls’ Cross Country Claims Shore Conference Championship

By Les Pierce

Middletown South Shore Conference Champions, left to right: Ryanne Mulligan, Dani Smith, Tess Bizzoso, Madison Brand, Michelle Coyotl, Kathleen Shay, Shannon Addario

One thing cross country coaches stress universally is that the competitors are engaged in a team sport. That’s a tough sell when only the very topflight runners receive recognition and headlines. However, the team concept was recently proven when the Middletown South girls’ cross country squad captured the Shore Conference Championship at Holmdel Park on October 26.

In the sport of cross country, the first five runners of each squad contribute to the team scoring. Points scored are based on position; for example, the first runner scores one point, and the second runner scores two points. The points accumulated by the first five finishers are used to compute totals and the low score is the winner.

The race was clearly a battle between the Eagles and perennial rival Colts Neck. South was led by Madison Brand in third place.  Kathleen Shay (sixth) and Danielle “Dani” Smith (23rd) were next to come over for Middletown and after three runners, the team had compiled 32 points. However, the corresponding three Cougars took positions fifth, 10th, and 13thand at this juncture enjoyed a 28 to 32 advantage.

South’s fourth runner, Tess Bizzoso, found Colts Neck’s fourth runner Lucy Gardner in her sights in the final 300 meters and surged with a strong finishing kick to beat Gardner to the line,  With four runners in for each team, the Cougars now led by three points. The deciding points came when the fifth Eagle, Michelle Coyotl, crossed the line to take the 33rd position, well ahead of Cougar Catherine Anderson in 45th place.

In the final tally, Middletown outpointed Colts Neck 96 to 105. Completing the top five were Red Bank Catholic (110), Holmdel (211), and Matawan (242).

The win was particularly sweet for the South squad, as nine days earlier, Colts Neck defeated Middletown at the Monmouth County championships by a 61 to 75 tally. University of Michigan-bound Eagle Madison Brand captured the individual championship at that venue. The Eagles are currently ranked fifth statewide by