It wasn’t so long ago that Mary Grace Monahan was featured as an Athlete of the Year. In fact, it was March when Manalapan’s talented runner was last highlighted for her accomplishments during the winter track and field season, and for that matter, as a member of the First- Team All-Shore girls soccer squad back in the fall.
As Monahan, a junior, gets set to begin a brief summer vacation due to her participation on the soccer team in the fall, reflection is in order for an impressive Spring from the 400-meter competitor.
Some feel the season doesn’t truly begin until that first county championship meet, where Monahan captured the Monmouth County 400-meter crown by recording a 57.46, however, for the Manalapan captain, her most treasured moment of 2013 came in a regular season dual meet with Freehold Township and Marlboro.
“That’s where the season all started for me,” explained Monahan. “I was only running the 400 that day and I felt very comfortable running it. I wound up breaking 58 seconds, finishing with a 57.5, and that really changed my thoughts about the season. It was early on and I was already running my best time.”
“It made me excited about what the rest of the season held. It helped push me through my workouts, and push me to get better.”
And she did. Including that Monmouth County meet, the junior finished up her season with five championship meets, posting personal best marks in four of them, including a title-winning time of 56.9 at the Shore Conference championships, a fourth place showing at the Group IV meet with a 56.72, and seventh place result at Meet Of Champions with a 56.27.
Splitting those four events was the Central Group IV sectional championships during which rain and wind “hampered” Monahan’s progress so much that she not only earned the individual 400-meter crown at 57.88, but went on to win the 800-meter race with a time of 2:17.85.
And with all of this stapled to a staggering resume, Monahan still admits to not having “total confidence” in her abilities, but feels that this mindset provides a competitive edge that’s allowed her to develop such a decorated high school career.
“I don’t think I’ll ever have total confidence in myself, just because I feel that there will always be runners that are better than me. That’s how I think, that there’s always somebody better. It helps me not to settle for my past accomplishments. It helps me push myself to get better.”
“But having these accomplishments definitely helps the confidence I have in myself and in what I can do. Seeing what I’ve done and who I’ve done it against has allowed me to settle in and become more comfortable.”
“But being named athlete of the year, after earning that title in the winter, is a wonderful honor because it represents all the hard work that went into this season.”