COLTS NECK, NJ: Descending on Thompson Park following a title run at last week’s Monmouth County Championship meet, Colts Neck senior Matt Bogdan failed to disappoint as the favorite in the NJSIAA Central, Group III Sectional Championship race.
Bettering the field by 54 seconds, Bogdan was chasing program history, eying the Cougars sectional championship meet record.
Though muddy terrain and gusting winds kept the senior about 10 seconds off that pace, Bogdan still managed to deliver a time of 15:49, securing his first career individual sectional championship, and leading Colts Neck to its first sectional title since 2017.
“The team championship means a lot to me. The boys and I, we’ve been through so much since last March,” said Bogdan, referencing the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis, which caused schools across the nation to transition to virtual learning, and forced athletics programs to forego their spring seasons.
As Bogdan and Colts Neck’s long-distance running collective saw its 2020 spring outdoor track season erased, the group reset its sights on the fall, particularly when the calendar turned to championship season in November.
“Looking back to March, it’s been a long grind to get to this point. We had our ups and downs. We went into our funks where no one really wanted to train. We lost our motivation at times. Being quarantined and confined to the house for months will do that to you,” Bogdan said. “But it’s come full circle, and today we had a great race.”
While Bogdan set a pace that allowed him to finish four and a half second better than his Monmouth County championship time, his teammates followed suit, as each of Colts Neck’s five fastest runners placed in the top 10, securing the Cougars a lopsided team victory.
After Allentown’s Ayden Estevez crossed the finish line in second place at 16:43, Colts Neck juniors Christian Mariner and Ryan Johnson closed their sectional championship races in third and fourth place, respectively, with times of 17:00.3 and 17:00.5.
Cougars senior Dylan Perkinson clocked in at 17:21.5 to take eighth place, and was trailed closely by Cougars junior Joe Allegro, who posted a ninth place time of 17:23.
The Colts Neck outfit compiled 25 total team points, outpacing second place Allentown (103 points) and third place Hopewell Valley (109 points).
“We were ranked fourth in the state coming into today’s meet, and we wanted to send a message and prove that we are one of the top teams around,” Bogdan said. “I think we did that today.”