Kaitlyn Mooney continues to succeed at the collegiate level.
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy sophomore won the 5,000-meter race at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field National Championship on March 8 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She finished in 16 minutes, 23.12 seconds
Mooney was the first female to capture an indoor track and field national title in program history.
The 2016 Southern Regional High School graduate, who won the race by more than 12 seconds, also broke the D-III record for the fastest time in the event. The record was previously held by Amy Regan of Stevens Institute of Technology (16:23.40 in 2016).
“It was very exciting,” Mooney said in a telephone interview last week. “I knew going in there was going to be some great competition, but I really wasn’t expecting a title. I just treated it like any other race, and the competition was very high, so it was just very exciting.”
Mooney, 21, had the support of her family — mom Kristen, father Dan, twin brother Patrick, older brothers Daniel and Trevor — and many teammates at the meet.
The resident of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township said her parents travel from South Jersey to watch all her meets during the season but that having her other family members there “made everything feel better.”
Mooney praised Coast Guard men’s and women’s track and field coach Ethan Brown and distance coach Greg Ahnrud, with whom she trains every day. Mooney also thanked Southern track and field coach Brian Zatorski.
“It was definitely exciting to see,” Brown said. “In her short time with us, she has learned a lot and gained a tremendous amount of experience. All her hard work paid off in that race. It was very nice to see her win that.”
Mooney, along with teammates Anita Green, Anna Beck, Adora Lawrence, also ran a leg in the third-place distance medley relay at the national championships in a program-record 11:43.85, which earned them All-American status.
“She is just mentally a great athlete, but she is an even better teammate,” Brown said. “She has this energy about her, and it helps the entire program.”
In March, Mooney was named the 2019 New England Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Mooney was the first female athlete at the Coast Guard to win the award and the first since male sprinter Mike Flint earned the honor in 2007.
Mooney was selected as the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week three times during the recently completed indoor season.
“It’s hard for me to get satisfied,” Mooney said. “I’m still young, and there is still a lot of time. I still want to put in all the work because I want more.”
On Jan. 25, Mooney finished the 3,000 race at the John Thomas Terrier Classic in 9:27.25 to set a program record. Her time was the third fastest in D-III history.
On Feb. 9, Mooney won the 5,000 race at the Dave Hemery Valentine Invitational in 16:27.30 to set another program record.
But she shattered that mark at the national championships.
“Her season was one for the record books,” Brown said. “It really was a great season for her.”
Mooney also earned All-American honors at the D-III Cross Country Championships in the fall.
“I was in better shape than we expected (this winter),” Mooney said. “Now, I’m ready for the outdoor season.”