Heredia and Hanifin Shine at Season Opener Invitational

Sarah Hanifin at the 2018 NJSIAA Group Championships. 

Full Results | Boys Merge | Girls Merge

Apparently Clifton's Jacob Heredia and Villa Walsh's Sarah Hanifin aren't the type of runners to wade cautiously into a new cross-country season.

No, theirs is more of a "jump right in, the water's fine" kind of approach. 

Heredia and Hanifin attacked Darlington Park in Mahwah on Saturday with a fervor more often seen at a state meet, turning in sizzling performances at the Season Opener which kept the competition waaaaay back in the rear-view mirror.

Hanifin's victory in 18:56 in the Varsity C race not only led that field by more than a minute and a half, she led the merged results by 12 seconds. Mia Dubac of Clifton won the Varsity A contest in 19:08. 

Spurred by Hanifin's season debut, Villa Walsh seized the Varsity C team title with a minuscule 23 points AND led the team merge as well by averaging 21:10. 

Senior Hope Crann (third, 20:38), freshman Delaney McKee (fourth, 21:36), and seniors Julia Collum (ninth, 22:09) and Maureen Walsh (14th, 22:34) rounded out the top five pack for Villa Walsh, which appears poised to improve upon last season's Non-Public B state runner-up finish. 

Hanifin, a junior, is the reigning NJSIAA Non-Public B champion who finished 30th in the Meet of Champions last fall. In the spring she placed second in the 3,200 meters and third in the mile at the Non-Public B meet.

Team by Team Result Summaries

The other eye-popping performance at Darlington belonged to Clifton's Heredia, a sophomore who clocked 16:15 to win by a comfortable 11 seconds in Varsity A, by far the fastest meet of the day. Varsity A featured six boys under 17 minutes, whereas the rest of the field had three combined. 

Heredia clearly means business this season. His effort at Darlington represents a whopping improvement on his final NJ appearance of the 2018 season when he finished 40th at the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 meet. 

Senior Colin Schweitzer led a 2-3-4 charge for the Seton Hall Prep boys, closing second behind Heredia in 16:26 and pacing the Pirates to the Varsity A team title with a microscopic 23 points, and more importantly a meet merge-leading 16:45 average.

Senior Nolan Orr (third, 16:39) and juniors Kevin Harvey (fourth, 16:40), Chris Gizzo (sixth, 16:53) and Luke Incardona (eighth, 17:07) represented the Pirates' scoring pack which finished with an exceptional 41-second margin of separation. 

In the boys Varsity B race, Lakeland senior Jesse Campoverde won the individual title by three seconds over Madison sophomore Adam Angelone in 16:50, while Campoverde's effort fueled a 60-82 victory over Demarest in the team standings. Lakeland averaged 17:44 to Demarest's 18:14.

The sole male runner under 17 minutes in the Varsity C race was Pompton Lakes junior Nathan Armstrong, who won by 35 seconds in 16:26. Senior Nick Bua placed third in 17:02 to pace Hasbrouck Heights to the team title, 42-106 over runner-up Rutherford. 

In the girls Varsity A race, Clifton's Dubac earned a 13-second victory over Kearny junior Maria Laverde, and she spearheaded Clifton's 1-2-6 finish to swipe the team title. Clifton out-paced Ridgewood 52-95 with a 21:18 average.

Demarest senior Ellie Lester won the Varsity B title in 20:04, while her squad pushed three girls across before Madison's second runner and earned a 96-103 victory. Demarest averaged 21:48 to Madison's 21:56.