West Long Branch, NJ - Monmouth pulled away midway through the day and cruised to its third consecutive team title at the 2011 NEC Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The host Hawks tallied 185 points, out-scoring runner-up Sacred Heart by a 53-point margin. Long Island, which has won the last two NEC Indoor team titles, took third in the standings with 126 points.
Although she was in high school when Monmouth captured the 2009 and 2010 outdoor crowns, freshman Laura Williams (North Brunswick, NJ/North Brunswick) was a key factor to the Hawks' successful "Three-peat." Williams won the NEC Most Outstanding Rookie award after accounting for 15.25 points on her own.
The NEC MVP award went Long Island junior Jessie Gaines (Chesapeake, VA/Western Branch) who single-handedly tallied 43.50 points. By virtue of her gold medal in the triple jump and silver in the long jump, Gaines also captured the NEC Most Outstanding Field Performer award.
Gaines was unable to win the NEC Most Outstanding Track Performer award for a second straight spring as the honor went to Mount St. Mary's senior Ashley DeCruise (Rockville, MD/Richard Montgomery). DeCruise out-dueled Gaines in both the 100m and 200m dashes to pick up a pair of gold medals and the meet's top track accolade.
At the 2010 NEC Outdoor Championships, which were held on her home track at the Mount, DeCruise broke the meet record in the 100m dash, but was not fast enough to beat out Gaines for the gold. While DeCruise crossed the line in 11.92, Gaines needed only 11.86. This year, DeCruise turned the tables on Gaines at the Jersey Shore by clocking in at 11.90 and edging out the third-year Blackbird by nine-hundredths of one second.
The top five finishers in the 200m all posted ECAC Championship qualifying times. DeCruise (24.21) came in first, tying a 13-year old meet record in the process. Gaines (24.58) was fourth.
Williams, already an ECAC qualifier in the 400m hurdles, contested the finals of the 200m and 400m dashes on Sunday and came away with a pair of medals. The New Jersey product, who competed for North Brunswick High School, ran to a runner-up finish in the 400m. Williams ran third in the 200m dash, nine-hundredths of one second better than Gaines.
Long Island, with Gaines running the anchor leg, set the meet record in the 4x100m relay.
In all, five records were either broken or set on Sunday.
Central Connecticut senior Katherine Bossardet (Gales Ferry, CT/Ledyard) broke Kathleen Duffy's five-year old record in the steeple chase.
Monmouth's Symonne Fisher (Coram, NY/Longwood) broke the meet record in the hammer throw, but settled for a silver medal.
That's because Sacred Heart junior Athalia Smith (New Britain, CT/New Britain) stepped up for the final throw of the competition and sent the hammer 58.31m, overtaking Fisher for the gold medal and the NEC record.
Smith's victory continued what has been a developing rivalry between the two NEC throwers. Back in February, Fisher won the indoor weight title over Smith by a mere five centimeters.
Monmouth's Allison Day (Westchester, PA/Rustin) matched the meet record in the high jump with the Hawks scoring a 1-2-4 finish in the event.
2011 NEC Outdoor Track & Field Individual Honors
Most Valuable Performer
Jessie Gaines, Long Island
Most Outstanding Track Performer
Ashley DeCruise, Mount St. Mary's
Most Outstanding Field Performer
Jessie Gaines, Long Island
Most Outstanding Rookie
Laura Williams, Monmouth
Coach of the Year
Christian Morrison, Sacred Heart