Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 46
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
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OUT OF THE WOODS: Princeton High girls’ cross country runner Jenna Cody flies through a race in action last season. Last Saturday, junior star Cody took 23rd in the state Group III meet, helping PHS place second in the team standings. The Little Tigers’ superb effort qualified them to compete in the Meet of Champions (MOC) this Saturday at Holmdel. It marked the first time the program has made the MOC since 2002

PHS Girls’ Cross Country Digs Deep; Placing 2nd in State Group III Meet

Bill Alden

Although Jim Smirk was thrilled to see his Princeton High girls’ cross country team win the Central Jersey Group III sectional team title two weeks ago, he believed his runners had more to give.

“As soon as we debriefed after the sectional race, we said we did a good job but we can do even better, recalled PHS head coach Smirk.

“Elyssa [Gensib] was coming off an injury and it was her first big race in a while. Amelia [Whaley] was No. 5 and she didn’t have a good race.

Last Saturday, PHS had a big, big race, placing second in the state Group III meet, trailing champion West Morris Mendham by just two points. In placing second, PHS qualified for next week’s Meet of Champions (MOC).

“Everyone put everything out, when they execute like that you have to be happy as a coach, said Smirk. “I asked to see competitive fire and everyone dug a little deeper.

Junior star Jenna Cody led the way for PHS, taking 23rd as she covered the 3.1 mile course at Holmdel in a time of 20:36. Senior Chrissy Glover was next for PHS in 25th place while junior Gensib was 26th, senior Maggie Sowa was 39th and Whaley took 41st.

PHS’s finish was even more impressive considering that Cody didn’t have her best day.

“Jenna didn’t have the race she probably wanted; she was having some problems in warmup, said Smirk.

“We talked about it and said everyone had to step up. Chrissy and Elyssa each had a really good day; they both executed exactly what they had planned.

Sowa didn’t have the race she planned but she epitomized how the PHS runners dug deep.

“If you had seen Maggie at the one mile and mile and a half marks, you wouldn’t have expected her to have the finish she did, said Smirk. “She pushed some limits emotionally and physically.

The Little Tiger runners have been pushing all season long. “There has never been any question about the goals or the value of what we were doing, said Smirk.

“They are committed to get it done; they trained hard everyday. On days when they were tired or it was cold and rainy, they showed the same level of intensity as they show in races.

In Smirk’s view, the team’s collective work ethic is what has made it special.

“When I look back at this team, five years from now, the biggest lesson I will have learned is the power of that commitment, said Smirk, noting that this is the first team to qualify for the MOC in his seven seasons guiding the program “Their greatest talent is how hard they work as a team.

PHS will be looking to run hard next week as it culminates its season by competing in the prestigious MOC, the apex of New Jersey running.

“I am excited about the MOC; we get to see Robbinsville again; they beat us in a dual meet and counties, said Smirk, noting that it is the program’s first appearance in the MOC since 2002. “We also get to go against some big name teams that we don’t see very often.

And by showing a commitment to excellence, PHS has emerged as a big-name team in its own right.

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