Lindsey Bellaran knew the pace of the NJSIAA Meet of Champions 800 meters would be a little quicker than what she was used to. A tweak in her approach with the expected pace boded well as the Clemson recruit had her finest hour in her final high school race.
Bellaran, of Red Bank Catholic, bided her time as the field went out unofficially in 1:03.9 before kicking with about 250 meters to go for the win in and her first MOC win in a personal best 2:11.97.
“It was a little uncomfortable, but you expect to be a little uncomfortable in a race like this,” Bellaran said. “I knew it would go out harder than my past races, so I wanted to mentally prepare for that. I didn’t want to go out and lead the race, so I tucked behind and went the last 250-300 meters because I knew I had a kick. I felt strong and I’m happy now.”
The race was ran without prohibitive favorite and state record holder Ajee Wilson of Neptune, who opted to concentrate on the 400.
In what had been billed as the must-see race from either gender on Monday, the 800/1,600 specialist Wilson squared off in the 400 against Columbia sophomore and defending MOC winner Olivia Baker.
The two were neck-and-neck around the final turn until Wilson, owner of a 54.35 personal best and a 53.4 relay leg, faded over the final 50 meters as Baker took the victory in 53.48. Wilson took second in 54.04.
The decision for Wilson to run the 400 instead of her signature 800 came after she lowered her own 800-meter state record to 2:02.63 at the Adidas Grand Prix on Randall’s Island in New York on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Baker remains on track to become the first girl to win the MOC 400 four times. Only one girl, Seneca’s Michelle Brown, has won three straight, that coming from 2008-10.
Southern senior pole vaulter Chelsea Vaughan finished her season undefeated in New Jersey by clearing 12-0 on her final attempt for the win. That win gives her two MOC titles this school year after she won the indoor MOC. On the year, Vaughan went 9-0 in championship meets in New Jersey.
Furthermore, Vaughan’s win gives Southern 11 outdoor MOC wins all-time, which is now tied for the most in Shore Conference history with Lakewood. The next closest Shore programs are Raritan and Red Bank with six each.
In the 100 hurdles, pre-race favorite and unbeaten Central senior Samantha Jensen had a forgettable day. After running the top qualifying time of the day at 14.05, she was given a ‘DNS’ thanks to a clerking error.
Once that was fixed and it was time for the final, Jensen got a slow start, clipped the third hurdle badly and wound up sixth in 14.37. Irvington senior Dashana Ransome decimated a respectable field, running a clean race for the win in 13.89.