Julie Bond was content to assume a supporting role last fall as a freshman on the Princeton High girls’ cross country team.
“We could really let the seniors take the wheel because Elyssa [Gensib] and Jenna [Cody] were so good,” said sophomore Bond.
Coming into 2102, Bond sensed that she would be in the driver’s seat. “This year there is more responsibility so I am trying to concentrate more which is what I saw Elyssa do,” said Bond.
“I am working harder in practice this year and I am more focused on my academics.
Last Friday at the Mercer County Championships, Bond’s hard work paid dividends as she set the pace for PHS, taking 11th individually, covering the 5k course at Washington Crossing Park in 20:08.
Bond’s big day helped the Little Tigers place third in the team standings at the meet behind champion WW/P-S and runner-up Robbinsville. Senior Amelia Whaley was PHS’ next finisher, placing 18th in 20:29, followed by freshman Lou Mialhe in 20th in 20:37 and sophomore Mary Sutton, the 34th-place finisher in 21:07.
For Bond, the race was an important step forward. “I was trying for my personal record and I think I might have gotten it by a little,” said Bond, who ran a 20:18 earlier this season in taking 10th at the Passaic Coaches Invitational.
Entering the county meet, Bond figured she would be joined at front of the PHS pack by senior star Whaley.
“We were looking to Amelia as our top runner today but she got injured,” said Bond of Whaley, who was in the top 10 for much of the race but struggled down the stretch and stumbled across the line.
“She has been racing so great in practice; she has amazing workouts. She is the most motivational person I know. Her freshman team lost states by two points and she wrote two points on her locker so she could look at it everyday.”
With PHS starting state competition with the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional this Saturday at Thompson Park in Jamesburg, Bond is feeling some special motivation.
“I am looking forward to the sectional,” said Bond. “We lost to Middletown South before and I think they are going to be our biggest competition. We want to make the group meet and that gives us motivation.”