It’s been said distance runners encounter a “high” when pounding the pavement.
If that’s true, West Morris Central cross-country runner Brennan Sharkey is somewhere in the stratosphere.
Sharkey put on a performance for the record books on Saturday, not only setting a school record, but also notching her place in New Jersey’s annals of running marks.
“When I saw Brennan run at camp in early August, I knew she was on track for something special this season,” cross-country coach Jay Herrigel said.
That’s a pretty strong statement for a runner who broke the school record in the 3200-meter event last spring and came in first at the West Morris Central Memorial 5K in May.
In the team’s first meet of the season, Sharkey stepped on a course that has seen the soles of the state’s elite in the past 15 years. The bar has been set very high at Freedom Park in Randolph, Herrigel said.
Sharkey took off for her three-mile sprint, and Herrigel knew he was about to witness something special.
“I had a feeling (Brennan) would run a race in the 18s (minutes) based on her time in practice,” Herrigel said. “She came through the mile mark at 5:50 and I remember thinking, ‘she’s flying.’”
Herrigel said Sharkey came through the second mile mark at 11:40, a perfectly even split from her first mile, and that’s when he knew fireworks were getting ready to ignite.
“Brennan sped up even more the final mile of the race to finish with an average mile time of 5:48 for the 5K,” Herrigel said.
Sharkey finished the race with a mark of 18:01, the second fasted time by a female on the course in its history.
“I was blown away by her performance,” Herrigel said.
The finish put Sharkey at the top of the school's records for the event, and catapulted her to second all time at the Freedom Park course. The top time on the course was set by Mary Cain of Bronxville, New York in 2011 at 17:50.16.
Sharkey was backed up by a powerful team performance at the event, as Central came in second place, missing the top spot by just four points, Herrigel said.