LEWISBURG, Pa. _ Brennan Sharkey was "expecting nothing at all" when she began running cross country for Bucknell University.
Sharkey, a West Morris High School graduate, figured she'd spend her freshman season feeling things out and settling in.
Two months into college, Sharkey has drawn much notice. She recently was honored as the Patriot League Rookie of the Week for the third time.
"It was exciting to be chosen," said the 18-year-old Sharkey. "I'm surprised by it. There was no pressure on me coming in. I think that's helping a bit."
Sharkey placed 39th at the Panorama Farms Invitational at the University of Virginia. She had the eighth best time (22:42) among freshmen.
In her very first race, Sharkey took third at the Bison Open with a time of 17:09. On Sept. 8, Sharkey was sixth at the Running Fit-Detroit Titan Invitational, crossing the finish line in 18:47.83.
She revealed she "was really, really nervous" before her first college race. However, the support of her teammates inspired her.
"Everyone encourages you," she said. "They all kept saying 'It's just a race. Do your best.' Everyone here is welcoming. We want each other to do well. If someone falls off, others keep them going."
Wearing a Bucknell uniform is enough to get Sharkey pumped up.
"I love representing the school," she said. "That gets me excited. It feels good."
That's because Bucknell was her first choice when she began looking at colleges. Sharkey, a resident of Long Valley, knew after her first official visit that she'd be happy there.
The biggest difference between high school and college cross country are the workouts.
"Our workouts are harder and faster," said Sharkey, undecided on a major but leaning toward business management or animal behavior. "Recovery is a lot easier and more important. There is more time to recover. I never did it that way."
Prior to arriving at Bucknell, Sharkey had only done 5Ks. The Panorama Farms Invitational was a 6K that was run on a course more difficult than Holmdel.
"It was pretty tough," she said. "Very hilly."
Montclair State University junior forward Maura Johnston was selected as a New Jersey Athletic Conference Field Hockey Offensive Player of the Week in early October.
Johnston, a Montville High School alumna, scored three times for the Red Hawks, who split a pair of games. Johnston scored twice as two-time defending NJAC champion Montclair opened its conference slate with a 5-1 win over Kean at home. She then had the lone goal for MSU in a 9-1 loss to No. 5 Middlebury in a neutral site game at the University at Albany.
Johnston is tied for eighth in the NJAC in points scored (25) and points per game (1.92); eighth in goals (10), eighth in goals per game, tied for sixth in assists (5.0) and third in game-winning goals (3.0).
Junior back Mackenzie Ellis has started 13 of 14 games for the University of Michigan. The Big Blue are 9-5 after being edged, 2-1, by Stanford on Oct. 12.
Ellis, the former Madison High School standout, made an exceptional save on a high shot in the second half.
Alli Helwig, also of Madison, is a senior back at Michigan State University. Helwig has started all 13 games and has three goals and five assists. No. 20 Michigan State (7-6) went to overtime for the seventh time this season on Sunday, Oct. 12 vs. Ball State and was edged, 2-1.
Erika Gerner and Madison Maute, both of Sparta, are having noteworthy seasons for Montclair State University.
Gerner, a senior opposite, has 56 kills and Maute, a freshman middle blocker, has 26 digs and 15 blocks. On Oct. 14, Maute had 10 kills in a four-set win over Rutgers-Newark that extended the Red Hawks' winning streak to five games.
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