Prior to the start of this 2014-15 winter track campaign, Matawan’s Sam Anderson was humbled by the talent and competition surrounding her, not just at the state level, but in her own backyard at the Jersey Shore.
And though the sophomore exits her indoor campaign as the most decorated runner the Shore Conference has to offer, the modest outlook with which she views her surrounding is still very much intact.
“The competition was really great this year,” Anderson said, upon earning Asbury Park Press All-Shore Girls Track Athlete of the Year honors. “I was always surrounded by a lot of great girls. It was truly challenging every time out.”
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As a freshman, Anderson premiered as the top 400-meter sprinter in the Shore, and carried that hype into her sophomore year, living up to every bit of it.
Anderson opened her championship indoor season with a Monmouth County title (58.55) and followed with another victory at the Shore Conference meet (57.97). The sophomore experienced similar success at the state level with wins at the Central Group II sectional (59.30) and the overall Group II meet (57.47), before recording her best time of 56.52 to finish third at the Meet of Champions.
However, such a successful showing wasn’t without some uncertainty for Anderson, as the sophomore decided to diversify her skill set and to include competition in the 800-meter event.
“It was challenging this season,” Anderson admitted. “Adding the 800, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, or what to expect with all the competition there.”
If the sophomore truly shouldered any doubts heading into her 800-meter expedition, such notions were dispersed with her inaugural triumph at the Shore Conference championships, when Anderson raced to a 2:15.66 to better the field by more than a full second.
Anderson went on to win the 800 championships at both the Group II sectional (2:20.99) and overall Group II (2:17.05) meets, and closed out her experiment with an impressive third place showing at the Meet of Champions, featuring her top time of 2:14.48.
“It was a great season,” Anderson said. “I accomplished a lot this year, especially with adding the 800 to my events. Now I feel like I can do more than just the 400 for my team.”
Despite the collection of gold-shaded accolades earned by Anderson, her fondest memory from of this past season was one of team success, as the sophomore’s pair of titles at the Group II meet helped lift Matawan to an overall team title, as the Huskies edged Deptford by the slimmest of margins 34-32.
“To win that Group II championship was a really big goal for us,” Anderson said. “To be able to contribute in such a big way to a team victory was great because it’s something we were working hard for. To help my team win at that level was really amazing.”
On the back of this successful winter season, Anderson enters the forthcoming outdoor schedule with more confidence in her abilities, but still motivated to achieve more.
“I proved to myself that I can do more than just sprints,” Anderson said. “I can do longer distances. And really my goals are the same. Just to continue to improve my times, and continue to get better.”
Staff writer Chris Rotolo: firstname.lastname@example.org