2012-09-26 / Sports

Bulldogs’ harriers set their expectations high

BY JIMMY ALLINDER Correspondent

Coaches have used hard work as the formula for winning, no matter the sport, to the point it has become a cliché.

However, Kelli Holleran has no other way to describe why the Metuchen High School girls cross-country team she coaches wins year after year, often against opponents from larger schools in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC).

Metuchen is a Group I team and competes in the Blue Division. The Bulldogs are gunning for their third consecutive conference small school championship. Holleran, who also coaches the girls’ winter and spring track programs, credits her teams’ success to a template that’s proven to work, season after season.

“All of our runners have set high goals and expectations for themselves and as a team,” said Holleran, whose Bulldogs have a 2-0 dual meet record. “We hope to stay healthy throughout the season and improve so that we peak at the right time, which is the end of October and early November.”

Metuchen has long been known as a school that produces quality runners and it has become one of the top programs in the GMC in recent years. It is not unusual for track athletes to compete during the fall, winter and spring. For instance, seniors Emma Johnson, Kristina Smiling, Jenn Lasko and Anna Lignell are two-time GMC champions. Holleran has also developed a core of underclassmen that are prepared to take over when the seniors graduate. “The most important contribution I can make,” she said, “is to help them understand and appreciate the importance of hard work. Once they grasp how important it is to establish a daily routine, the success will follow.”

Holleran said she is fortunate to have a number of leaders who push themselves and serve as examples to the rest of the team.

“We have girls who are tremendous leaders and have been dedicated and committed their entire high school careers,” Holleran said. “They have been team-oriented and love to work and compete. Just as important, they have brought intensity to the team, but know how to make competition enjoyable.”

Junior Gabby Jordan and sophomore Brianna Jordan finished in the top ten for their classes in last year’s GMC championships and hope to improve their finishes this fall.

Other members of the team are junior Mackenzie Revano and sophomores Courtney Marraro, Lyla Kaul, Rebecca Chiusano, Brianna Murphy and Amanda Harding. Freshmen Kristina Lignell and Sara Karlovitch are also on the roster. Holleran is especially pleased with the improvement of Brianna Davis, Kaul and Marraro.

“Another important aspect is that our senior leadership possesses the drive to always improve and have personalities others want to be around,” she said. “That is leading the way for the underclassmen when they take over.”

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