NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- Clare Kelly spent the off-season training for this fall's cross-country season, and the strides the New Providence junior has made have been evident in the high placements she's achieved in county and conference races so far.

Now Kelly is aiming for a big finish at the NJSIAA Sectional Championship this Saturday in Monroe.

Kelly is the Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week.

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"Clare has had a great fall thus far," New Providence girls' cross-country coach Alex Meyer said. "After running all summer in preparation for XC, Clare has improved her pace dramatically, both in training and racing.  She has placed second at the Union County Conference Mountain Division Championships, and eighth in Union County thus far, and looks to have a strong run at the Sectional Meet."

In September, Kelly ran a 20:37.2 to finish fifth in the 5,000-meter race in the Thompson Park Class Meet. In the same event a month later, she broke 20, finishing second with a time of 19:27.5 in the Union County Conference Championship. Kelly also had an eighth-place finish in the Union County Championship Oct. 29 in the 5,150 meters with a time of 19:47.

"Clare’s hard work ethic and positive attitude have led to a turnaround season for the girls XC team, with their biggest goals yet to come," Meyer said.

Kelly took time out to answer a few questions in recognition of being named Athlete of the Week.

Q: What are some of your team's goals and personal goals for this year's x-c season?
A: My team’s goal is definitely to try and win sectionals this Saturday. We’ve had a great year so far and I’m very proud of everyone and excited to see how we do. Personally, my big goal was to break 20 minutes in the 5k and make it to the Meet of Champions.


 
Q: Have you seen your running change since your last year?  
A: Yes, I’ve definitely become more serious and focused on the smaller aspects of training.

Q: What has been the best advice you have received from a coach?
A: The best advice I’ve received from a coach was from Coach Meyer when he told me to “run just like I always had” and to treat it like “another day at the office.” This casual approach to racing really helped me focus in on the race and my goals.

Q: What has been your most memorable meet/performance to date?
A: My most memorable meet to date was this past Conference meet when I broke 20 minutes and came in at 19:27.

Q: What is your best time (this season, and career)?
A: My best time of the season and my  running career for the 5K is 19:27.

Q:  What do you like most about New Providence High School?
A: I like that it’s a small community so everyone knows each other and it’s a supportive environment.

Q: Do you have a favorite subject?
A: My favorite subject is probably sociology, I find learning about how people work fascinating.

Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: My favorite athlete is Clare Gallagher, an ultra runner.

Q: Do you have a role model?
A: Nikki Hiltz is my role model because of her impressive work ethic that led her to competing in the 1500m run at worlds.

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The Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors located at 64 Main Street in Chatham.  Joe is a 25 year New Providence resident who is an active member of the New Providence community. Contact Joe anytime, whether it's to get started on helping you realize your real estate goals and dreams, or just to ask a question about the local market.  Joe can be reached at jeberle@weichert.com or call 908-868-4800