Top Returning Girls - Holmdel List Included!

The girls of fall are returning, full of outbreak stars and big stage honorees. The top girls have been going back and forth battling for that leading spot each season and this one seems to be anyone's race once again.

It is so hard to even rank the top five or six or so girls, but the title of reigning leader on the dirt goes to Mackenzie Barry of Mendham HS. This is her senior campaign, she's been notching respect and titles throughout her cross and track seasons. Switching indoor and outdoor titles in the 3200m the last two years taking second when not the gold. She placed third at the last two XC Meet of Champs as a sophomore and junior, both times first and second place were seniors. Last MOC at Holmdel she recorded the fastest Holmdel time for returning girls this year at 18:14.

Mackenzie Barry taking third at last year's MOC. Photo by PhotoDoc / MileSplit

Moving on from there on the topic of young talent stepping up on the course and track, GRACE DWYER!

Boasting a fantastic freshman campaign in each season, Dwyer can take that knowledge, experience, and chemistry with coaches and possibly earn the New Jersey distance scene spotlight whether it be this year or next. If you don't know her name yet I would start to remember. Placing fourth in the outdoor 3200m meet of champions as a frosh running 10:28, ranks second in both returning XC lists overall (17:57 at Delsea) and on the Holmdel course (18:27), she was third at Groups and eighth at MOC's last year a freshman among seniors and juniors (2012 MOC top twelve listed below).

Who to write about next?! Courtney Thompson, she and Tara Connelly were one of the best cross country duos you could find last season, watching them and the Holmdel duo of Monmouth U bound Lennon Cooper and junior Marin Warner battle during Monmouth County Champs was a treat. Thompson was a state group champion in the 3200m this spring and settled for 11th at MOC with a 10:58 run while she placed second indoor and posted a 10:45. Cross Country wise she finished ninth at MOC last season and is ranked third in returning Holmdel times, fifth overall. She's stated that so far this XC season looks very promising so she's feeling good and it'll be fun to watch if she can grab that top spot in the state her senior year!

Tara Connelly should be excited to get back onto the hills of Holmdel, she beat out Thompson at Groups taking first in 18:40 and then placed 11th at MOC with an 18:35. If she can keep up the momentum she gained last fall and improve on it she could be a contender as well.

If you're interested in seeing the awesome Monmouth County race from last year with these two and others check it below, I've posted the broadcast video I put together while covering last season.

Now for a rising favorite in the world of New Jersey girls distance running, Josette Norris. After a major break out year winning double gold at both sectionals and groups in the 1600m and 3200m outdoor and setting the MOC meet record with a 4:41 showcase in the 1600m, which at the time was a US#5, she is set to begin a dominant smooth XC season. She is fourth among returning Holmdel times (18:31), last year placing tenth at MOCs and second in her group. With how far she advanced during outdoor track she should be a top three runner in the state this fall if not numero uno. I was so impressed with her racing as I watched them live at States in the spring,

Josette Norris (front center, Tenafly) and Grace Dwyer (Viewer's right Bib#1055) racing at the 2012 Shore Coaches Invitational. Photo by StonePhoto / MileSplit

Others such as Kerry Dyke of Mount Saint Mary Avademy, and Catherin Pagano who I've heard transferred from Ridgewood to Northern Highlands this year, both rank solidly in the returning rankings. Lets not forget about Danielle Leavitt of Lacey either! She was having a great year till the end of fall last season where she missed out of the state races so her absence on the list is far from a lack of talent but a lack of attendance. She'll hopefully be back in the game come September.

Eve Glasergreen started making a case for herself this outdoor season. Kelly Shaffer, Clarissa Modde to add a few more. Even runners on the fray of elite status or that some may not know of their talents as of yet could swoop in and take the attention. Lauren Zodl of Pinelands rings a bell there, Marin Warner of Holmdel, Elizabeth Lansing of Randolph the list goes on, but they'll have to post the times when the gun goes.

There are just so many talented distance running girls entering this XC season that following all fall is a must! I'm so pumped.