Two of New Jersey's best, the Indian Hills girls, ranked No. 3 in the state, and Charlotte Bednar of Lawrenceville, made impressive season debuts to highlight a strong showing by the Garden State at Saturday's prestigious Briarwood Invitational at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia.
Indian Hills (pictured above) successfully defended its title in the Championship Division with an even stronger performance than it displayed last year. The Braves averaged 20:34 (five seconds faster than a year ago), and rolled to a 74-121 victory over runner-up Avon Grove.
Senior Corinne Barney, the State Group 2 XC champ last year, led the attack up front a usual for Indian Hills, which went 3-7-9-17-38. Barney was third in 19:23, nine seconds faster than she ran last year. Rising sophomore star Allison Lounsbury was seventh in 19:54, senior Madeline Barney ninth in 20:19, senior Scarlett Jekic, 17th in 21:13, and sophomore Abbey Churchill placed 38th in 22:01.
Indian Hills, third at the State Group 2 Championships and fourth at the Meet of Champions last year, certainly has the firepower to once again to contend for the top spot in every race it runs.
Bednar, who won the girls Challenge Division race by 70 seconds in 18:43 to lead her team to a third-place finish, wasn't just making her season debut. The sophomore was also running her first race for Lawrenceville.
Bednar, who transferred from the Hun School, is coming off a fantastic freshman year that saw her become one of the biggest surprises in the country and one of the best distance runners in the nation.
Last year, Bednar won the Mercer County, State Prep Championship, and the Mid-Atlantic Prep Championship, and then came the biggest highlight of her career so far when she capped of her remarkable rookie campaign by placing 12th overall and first among freshmen at Nike Nationals in 17:29.
Littlehales, a sophomore, crossed first in 16:59 to lead a very strong frontal attack for Delsea, which finished second to Hasbrouck Heights, 106-112.
Hasbrouck Heights, ignited by a 23 second spread between its No. 2 and No. 5 runners, found itself trailing Delsea by 28 points after each team had three runners across, but the 4-5 runners for Hasbrouck Heights came up huge to rally their team to the narrow victory. The No. 4 and No, 5 runners for Hasbrouck Heights, Joe Canavatchel and TK Kasper, finished 27th and 28th and outscored the No. 4 and 5 runners for Delsea by 89 points. Hasbrouck Heights, second to Haddon Heights at the state Group 1 meet last year, was led by Evan Morrow, sixth in 17:22.