PHS Girls' Track Team Progressing As it Acclimates to New Approach
By Bill Alden
John Woodside knew he had a bit of a selling job to do as he took the helm of the Princeton High girls' track team this spring.
Woodside, who previously guided the boys' track team and now heads both squads in the wake of the departure of Andre Bridgett, recognized that he might ruffle the feathers of some of his female athletes as he instilled his system.
"It's always really tough when you change a regime and the way a program is set up," said Woodside, who had coached the boys¹ squad the previous two seasons. "The two teams now work out together."
More importantly, Woodside has instilled his system whereby coaches focus on specific groups of athletes.
Adarrell Fisher is in charge of the sprinters, Kelly Monaghan guides the hurdlers, Greg Hand schools the throwers, and Woodside concentrates on the distance runners.
Woodside believes that his system is starting to take hold. "The kids had to get used to that," acknowledged Woodside. "The kids are now kicking into gear."
A case in point came in last Saturday's Holmdel relays at which PHS female athletes turned in some sparkling performances competing in the meet's middle division.
The distance relay team took first with Allison Crowley running the 400, Caroline Sholl handling the 800, Susanne Hansen competing in the 1200, and Eleonora Spinazzi anchoring the event by running the 1600.
The PHS girls placed third in the shuttle hurdle relay (with a quartet of Crowley, Nicolette Gengel, Annabel Roberts, and Kelly Curtis), fifth in the 4x 800 relay (Sholl, Sara Hastings, Noemi Spinazzi, and Eleonora Spinazzi) and fifth in the sprint medley event (Curtis, Libby Bliss, Elesha Casimir, and Eleonora Spinazzi.)
In Woodside's view, the performance of Eleonora Spinazzi, in particular, has given the squad a major boost. "Eleonora had a tough winter, she was fighting an injury," said Woodside, who noted that his sophomore star had strained or pulled the muscle running from the inside of her knee up her leg. "She tried to train through it but sometimes she just had to rest it. She seems to have gotten over it and is really fired up to do well this spring."
Another key performer for PHS is senior standout Crowley, who won the triple jump and the 100 hurdles at last year's Central Jersey Group III sectional championship meet.
"Allison hurt her knee on the hurdles and was out for a week and a half," said Woodside of his versatile athlete who may score points this spring in the hurdles, the 100/200 dashes, the 4 x 100 relay and the triple jump. "She is feeling no pain and is recharged."
Woodside said the team is getting a charge out of its younger athletes. "Libby Bliss and Kelly Curtis are really good freshmen," said Woodside, whose team fell to Hamilton and Notre Dame in a tri-meet last Monday and will compete at the Penn Relays on April 22.
"Natalie Gengel (a sophomore) helps us in the sprints and jumps. She has ability in the pole vault. We have others who are coming on."