Sunday, May 4, 2014

Penney runs on the elite circuit

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 4 2014
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014

She watched her daddy go out the door for his runs and wanted to run with him.  She was only a baby when he first ran trying to lose a little weight and get into shape.  “He fell in love with it,” said Lauren Penney of her dad Steve Penney of Succasunna. 

So it was natural for her to want to run with him and at nine Lauren ran in her first race.  Her early career was short lived though.  She signed up for the Roxbury Recreation Department track and field program, but that year the track was being rebuilt and the kids had no track of their own to train on. 

“It was not fun at all.  Running’s not for me,” she concluded.

It wasn’t until she was in middle school that she gave it another try.  This time she had found her calling.  Penney was a freshman when the Roxbury girls cross country team was on fire. 

Ali Caruana, Jenn Ennis, Kristen Stevens, Casey Campbell, Sarah Tencza and Ashley Cromartie another freshman.  They won the Meet of Champions in 2004 and earned the right to fly to Portland Oregon for the Nike Cross Country national meet where they placed ninth out of twenty teams.

“I got a really awesome experience out of it,” said Penney.  “I credit my own running from them bringing me along with them.”

Penney also credits the girls coach Sherry Sikora for developing the talented girls on the team.  Sikora was a standout at Roxbury when she was in high school there, and she came back straight out of college to coach at her alma mater.

After high school Penney continued running at Syracuse University where she made All American in the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships and All American again in 2013 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 5,000 meters where she placed eighth.

After graduating in 2012 Penney continued to run and to race and she is now with the New Jersey* New York Track Club that was organized just a handful of years back.  The club has attracted a growing number of young talented runners who train under the tutelage of Frank “Gags” Gagliano at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Just like the rest of New Jersey runners it was a hard winter to get in the training but being aligned with Rutgers the team was able to run indoors at the Bubble which helped Penney to get in her 70 to 75 miles per week.  The team trains together for workouts and on Saturdays for their long runs they often run on the D&R Towpath nearby and sometimes drive out to run on the Columbia Trail that stretches from Long Valley to High Bridge.

Penney says she is looking for a big PR (personal record) at her race Sunday night (May 4) at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University.  She set her current PR of 15:56.8 last fall and like most runners she was reluctant to name the time she is hoping to run.

Two weeks from now Penney will be running in a 1,500 meter race at the USATF Oxy
High Performance Meet in Los Angeles.   PR’s will likely fall there as well.

“The 4:13 that I ran last spring (in the 1,500) was after a 4:37 PR in the mile from indoors  and this year I ran a 4:31 in the mile indoors so I’m hoping to bring that down a little bit too.”

Back at home Steve Penney and his wife Donna are watching the development of their talented daughter.  Lauren Penney said that they almost never missed an event while she was competing for Syracuse. 

“They love it,” said Penney.  “Their attitude is that if you’re going to do it, it’s got to be while you’re young, when you can.”

Penney’s event is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Pacific time.  Results will be posted on

Two other New Jersey women; Ashley Higginson who was a standout at Colts Neck, and Amy Van Alstine who ran for Midland Park are also entered with Penney in the elite section. 

You can bet that some families in those two towns and in Roxbury will be staying up a little late tonight.


Race Results can often be found at or at 
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

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