Trent Brinkofski threw the gauntlet down to the rest of the Greater Middlesex Conference Saturday.
The Bishop Ahr High School cross country standout won the Varsity D race at the Shore Coaches Invitational, covering Holmdel Park’s hilly 3.1-mile course in a time of 16:29. That was by far the fastest clocking of the day among GMC boys.
“I definitely wanted to win this race,” the senior said. “I thought I could be in the 16:20s. I was confident in myself. I’m happy about it.”
Coming off his 16:08 triumph at Garrett Mountain in the Passaic Coaches Invitational last week, Brinkofski made it clear he is the GMC’s runner to beat after placing a disappointing fifth at last year’s county meet.
“Definitely that motivated me a lot,” he said. “I have big goals for states, but GMC is the local pride. Coming off last year, that gave me a lot of hunger for this year. I’ve been working hard.”
He upped his mileage over the summer, running seven days per week instead of six and peaking at 70 miles instead of 55. He also spent two weeks at Ithaca College training on hilly terrain with a group of collegians that included older brother and Ithaca alum Teddy, who still holds Bishop Ahr’s course record at Holmdel (16:04).
It paid off Saturday when he made a huge move to the front of the pack during the second mile. He entered the downhill part of the infamous “bowl” in sixth place and excited the uphill in second, behind only Bishop Eustace junior Shawn Hutchison, who finished four seconds back in 16:33.
“After the bowl he made a move and I went with him,” Brinkofski explained. “We separated from the rest of the guys, and in the woods on the major downhills I overtook him.”
This time shaved 14 seconds off his Holmdel personal best, which was set in last fall’s Non-Public A race. Brinkofski missed qualifying for the Meet of Champions that day, putting something else on his senior year to-do list.
“My ultimate goal for Holmdel, I want to run sub-16,” he said. “The 16:04 school record, of course I’m gunning for that too because it would give me one up on Teddy.”
In the boys championship race, South Brunswick held its own with a fifth-place showing and a five-man average of 17:05. The Vikings packed it up as junior Nicholas Neville (31st place, 16:57), junior Matthew Zamorski (37th, 17:01), senior Kyle McCann (42nd, 17:08), senior Ryan Aug (43rd, 17:09) and sophomore Tyler Sanders (47th, 17:12) had just a 15-second spread between them.
The only Group IV programs to run faster at the meet were West Windsor-Plainsboro South, which placed third in the championship section with a 16:45 average, and Cherry Hill East, which won Varsity A at 17:01.
On the girls’ side, Old Bridge senior Shanna O’Mara and North Brunswick senior Jennifer Salvatore registered the top local times of 20:36 and 20:37 respectively, which was good for 12th and 13th in Varsity A. South Plainfield sophomore Dianne Ferraro took sixth in Varsity C in 20:50.