RBC's Byrne champ at 800 meters

By CHRIS CHRISTOPHER • STAFF WRITER • February 27, 2010

TOMS RIVER — It's all in the genes for Kevin Byrne. Advertisement

Once upon a time his dad ran for Paramus Catholic and Bergen Catholic.

The 42nd annual NJSIAA Meet of Champions took place on Saturday and it was the younger Byrne's time to shine.

Byrne won the 800-meter run in 1:55.10 for Red Bank Catholic at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex.

My dad ran for his whole life, Byrne said. He is like having a personal coach. He has been through all of the bumps and bruises. He realizes all of the different things that go on in a race. I get to join a long list of great athletes and my dad was one of them.

Byrne starred in front of family and friends.

My whole family was here, the junior said. They came down from Bergen County. They did it for me. I did it for them.

Byrne conquered adversity as he was boxed in on the third turn.

I took the lead with two laps to go, he said, and I kept going. I felt good today. I went out a little slow.

Byrne broke into several smiles after the race.

It's pretty damn cool to win it, he said. It feels great to win it. It was nice to win it for my father. He wanted it for me. All of the hard work I put in all year came down to this meet today.

It's always nice to win in the Meet of Champions. When you win the Meet of Champions, nobody is better than you. It's nice to say you are the best in the state. It's a great feeling to know I won.

Byrne admitted to feeling jittery prior to his run to the winner's stand.

I was freaking out when I got up this morning, he said, but my dad was more nervous than I was.

Byrne fell short of the meet record of 1:53.77 set in 1991 by Elizabeth's Jean Destine.

I was just trying to win the race, said Byrne, a 5-foot-9, 140-pounder.

Byrne said he trained hard for the race.

I ran 50 miles per week, he said. I did two strength workouts per week. I did speed work and a nice, long run to start the week. I love training. I get to be out for more than an hour. I collect my thoughts and focus on one goal. It's nice to feel you have accomplished something when you are done.

Next stop for Byrne is the Nike Indoor Nationals, Boston, next month. He will compete in the 800 and the 4x800 relay.

I plan to do a fast time, meet people and have fun, he said.

Long Branch junior Miles Shuler won the 55 in 6.40 for the Green Wave.

Oh man, it feels great to win, he said. I ran great times throughout the season and I had to finish it off right in the final meet of the year.

Shuler, who bested Brick Memorial junior Jihaad Howard (6.51), led from start to finish.

After the gun went off, I knew I was going to win, he said. I was scared in the preliminaries as I did not get too good of a start. In the final, my adrenalin was pumping and I was out.