Wednesday evening saw the opening series of events for the Monmouth County Championships meet play out on the campus of Holmdel High School and no competitor shined brighter than the Hornets’ own Marin Warner.
Warner entered the 1,600 meters race off an impressive seventh-place performance at the Penn Relays on April 27 where the sophomore finished with a time of 4:59.74, one full second ahead of her personal best, a 4:58.74 obtained at the 2012 NJSIAA Meet Of Champions.
Warner surpassed that mark in her qualifying heat with a 4:58.0 and proceeded to shatter the time when medals were on the line racing to a 4:56.52, which topped the field by more than nine seconds and allowed the sophomore to successfully defend her 2012 Monmouth County crown in front of a hometown crowd.
“It was really exciting to be able to run this race at home and successfully defend my title in front of friends and family,” explained Warner. “I did feel a little pressure to defend it, but regardless of what meet it is, my goal is always to get a personal best in every race I’m in. That’s what I was able to focus on and it helped me to relax and run the best that I could.”
“Looking forward, this is a big confidence builder for me. It lets me know that I can definitely go out there and have a good shot at winning other meets, so I’m really excited now to see what’s to come.”
“We wanted Marin to break five (minutes) and win the race and we almost expected her to come out and do that because she’s been running so consistently,” said Holmdel’s distance coach Kaci Redding.
“Having Marin run in these big races is really good for her because she’s continuing to face better competition, learn from the experiences, and get better and better. She’s such a hard worker and we’re all going to see the results.”
Middletown South’s Carissa Gray captured the 400 meter hurdles championship with a time of 1:04.73, a mark that nudged out Neptune’s Kadeem Curtis by four-hundredths of a second.
“It’s a great feeling to leave this meet with a win, especially at this point in the season with Shore Conference and state meets coming up,” said Gray. “I love being in such competitive races with so many talented girls. It drives me to do my best.”
Gray was also, admittedly, inspired by a feeling of redemption, and an urge avenge a series of second and third place finishes last season at the Monmouth County, Shore Conference, and state sectional meets.
“Today and moving forward I have redemption in mind. Third place at Monmouth County last year followed by second place at Shore Conference and Sectionals, so I’m hoping to redeem myself in those races. And if I continue to work hard and continue to see improvements like I did today, then I should see good things happen in the future.”
The girls 100 meter dash saw Marlboro’s Kimberly McKinnon cross the line in first, outdoing her previous personal best of 12.46 with a title winning time of 12.31. McKinnon edged out Colts Neck’s Jackie Wold (12.48) and Middletown North’s Devon Freshnock (12.69).
Day two of the Monmouth County Championships is slated to take place on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Holmdel’s Bob Roggy Memorial Stadium.