Washington Twp.’s Maura Keane qualifies for Meet of Champions in first season of XC!!!

Maura Keane is off to her first Meet of Champions!

Keane, a junior at Washington Township, was the only South Jersey girl to earn a wild-card into this weekend’s XC Meet of Champions, and she’ll race the best in the state Saturday at Holmdel County Park.

That’s a remarkable accomplishment for any runner but in particular a middle-distance runner in her first year of cross country.

Keane played field hockey for the Minutemaids as a freshman and sophomore, but after a successful track season — she ran 2:18.87 last spring and was third in the Group 4 sectionals — Keane switched to cross country this fall.

She’s had quite a season, taking second in the Gloucester County Championships, seventh in the Olympic Conference meet and sixth in the South Jersey Group 4 race before running a strong 22nd at states Saturday with a 19:50 in her first try at the Holmdel County Park hills.

The 10-fastest girls who aren’t on a team that qualified either automatically (top-two finish in any of the six state meets) or as a wild card (next eight-fastest teams) qualified for the M-of-C as wild-card individuals.

The last Washington Township girl to race at Meet of Champs was Dina Iacone as a sophomore in 2009.

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