Lauren Princz set a goal before the indoor track and field season.
And the Egg Harbor Township High School standout sprinter accomplished it.
Princz won the girls 55-meter dash in a personal-best 6.98 seconds at the season-ending Meet of Champions on March 8. That time ranked eighth in the country this winter among high school girls, according to milesplit.
The 17-year-old junior had aimed to break 7 seconds since she was a sophomore.
Princz is The Press Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“It felt really great,” Princz said. “It was amazing. I worked really hard for that. I was really happy to make that happen.”
Princz also captured the South Jersey and state Group IV titles in the 55 dash. In the sectionals, she crossed the finish line in 7.15 seconds to lead EHT to a second-place finish in team scoring.
In the state meet, she finished in 7.12 seconds, defeating Nakaja Weaver of North Brunswick by 0.06 seconds. The event featured 20 runners.
“It felt great,” Princz said of the season. “There were a lot of ups and downs in the beginning, but overall, I am happy with how the season went. I am really proud of everything that I accomplished.”
Princz, Anne Rutledge, Gabrielle Germann and Isabella Leak won the 1,600 sprint medley at the state Group IV relay championships in 4 minutes, 17.52 seconds.
Princz also won the 55 dash (7.18) at the New Balance Games at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York.
“It’s an honor to have her on the team,” EHT coach Erika Vazquez said. “She is very dedicated to her skill and is always looking to improve. She is definitely one of the most dedicated athletes I’ve coached. She is just motivated and always strives to improve her times.”
Vazquez added this was the best winter of Princz’s high school career.
“It was awesome,” Vazquez said. “Like I said, she is so dedicated and committed, and that showed a lot this season. She has so much heart.
“That constant desire to improve, I think, really pushed her to go above and beyond. It was an exciting year for her, and it was great to see as her coach.”
In the 2019 outdoors season, Princz captured the Atlantic County, Cape-Atlantic League and South Jersey and state Group IV titles in the 200 dash. The EHT resident was a first-team Press All-Star.
But something could prevent a repeat this spring.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association postponed the spring season after Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all New Jersey schools closed for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NJSIAA has said it hopes to hold some sort of spring season, but that may not be possible as the new coronavirus continues to affect more people.
“I’m really sad about it,” Princz said. “I really wanted to show what I was made of, especially because a lot of college scouts look at your junior seasons. I was really excited for the season to start.”
Princz, however, is just pleased her junior indoor season ended on a high note.
“I want to thank all my coaches, family, friends and teammates,” she said. “Even through the ups and downs, they are always pushing me and helping me get better.
“I am really happy with myself this season.”