Former Southern Regional High School Star Mooney Runs to Fourth in NCAA Division III as a Coast Guard Freshman

Nov 22, 2017
Courtesy of: Brad Clift/Coast Guard Academy Athletics Former Southern Regional cross-country and track star Kaitlyn Mooney placed fourth in the NCAA Division III Championships on Nov. 18. The Coast Guard Academy freshman finished in 20:48.30.

When she graduated from Southern Regional High School in June 2016, Kaitlyn Mooney had just cemented her spot in Rams running lore as one of the program’s best distance runners after breaking Danielle Tauro’s 3,200-meter mark while winning the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Well, after taking a year to fulfill her initial duties at the Marion Military Institute in Alabama before joining the U.S. Coast Guard Academy women’s cross-country team this fall, Mooney again has risen to the highest ranks, now among the best in NCAA Division III. On Nov. 18, Mooney placed fourth overall at the Division III National Championships, completing the 6,000-meter course in Elsah, Ill., in 20:48.30 and earning All-American status as a freshman.

University of Chicago junior Khia Kurtenbach led the 279-runner field to win the individual title with a time of 20:39.20, while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps senior Bryn McKillop finished second in 20:45.90, and Johns Hopkins junior Ellie Clawson took third in 20:47. Mooney’s finish was the highest for a freshman since 2013, when St. Olaf’s Noelle Olson took second, as well as the best finish by a Coast Guard runner in program history.

Mooney’s nationals run wrapped up a phenomenal season for the former Southern star. After setting the school record several times earlier in the season, on Nov. 11 she won the Division III New England championship by breaking her mark with a time of 20:22, beating Amherst’s Nicky Roberts by nine seconds in Gorham, Maine. The regional victory resulted in Mooney being named U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Athlete of the Year. Heading into the season, Coast Guard’s 6K record had been held by Beth Gollin, who ran a 22:16 in 2013.

On Oct. 29, Mooney won the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference championship as she led the Bears to a third-place team finish with a 5K time of 17:52. Mooney’s championship not only marked a first for Coast Guard, but earned her the NEWMAC Rookie and Runner of the Year honors as well.

Mooney made her Bears debut on Sept. 9 by smashing the Trinity Invitational field by nearly 46 seconds, running to a 5K time of 19:01.5, and two weeks later broke the school record for the 6K (22:02) while finishing second in the Williams College Purple Valley Classic. Mooney then won the next four races she entered, along the way smashing the school’s 5K record when she ran a 17:07.5 on Sept. 30 – the previous mark of 17:48 had been set in 1995 by former All-American Tammy Wilcox.

— David Biggy

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