When TJ Harkins of Immaculata and Laura Baeyens of Watchung Hills were pounding out their summer mileage, they were both fueled to increase the quantity and quality of their training runs by a desire to run some big PR's and contend for some major titles this season.
It hasn't taken long for that hard work and determination to pay off.
The two Somerset County stars displayed their high fitness levels on Saturday by throwing down personal best performances and running away with the Senior Division titles with the fastest times of the day in steamy conditions at the 40th NJCTC Bernie Magee Class Meet on Greystone's course at Central Park in Morris Plains.
Harkins blasted a 15:45 to win the boys Senior Division race, slicing 45 seconds off his previous best time at Greystone that he ran at this meet last year.
Baeyens, in her first big race of the season, made a breakthrough of her own by capturing the girls Senior Division race in 18:31 as she cut 17 seconds off her former Greystone PR of 18:48 that she ran at the North Jersey, Sec. 2 Group 4 meet as a sophomore.
"I have a lot of big goals for this season,'' said Harkins. "But I knew the only way I could achieve them was to put in more work in the summer than I had in the past and get as fit as I could. This is the best shape I've been in coming into a season, and it's great to see my times coming way down.
Last year, Harkins was seventh at the Somerset County Championships, 21st at the Skyland Conference Championships, third in the State Non-Public B Championships, and ran a Holmdel best of 17:05.
Harkins should be in the mix to win some major championships this season.
"I want to bring my Holmdel time way down this year,'' said Harkins. "And I'd like to be right up near the front and try to win the county and conference and some other races. I'm real excited for the season.''
Baeyens was very happy to finally break her personal best from 2017.
"I've been working really hard and wanted to get a new PR today,'' said Baeyens. "I've been waiting two years to get it.''
- Maria Laverde of Kearny overcame a slight turn off course to win the girls Junior Division race in 19:29!!
- Westfield captured the Junior girls team title, 19-38 over Union County rival Summit. The Blue Devils went 3-6-11 and averaged 20:14. Just three runners score in this class format.
- Zach Hodges of Mendham (pictured above) won the boys Junior race in a big way, crossing in 16:12, a new PR for Greystone. Hodges ran 16:15 here last year at the NJAC meet.
- North Hunterdon won the boys Junior Division team title with a 2-3-6 finish and a 16:37.
- There was great team battle between Mendham and Ridge in the Senior boys race. Mendham averaged 16:37 and won, 24-28. Mendham finished 1-6-17 and Ridge averaged 16:43 went 5-9-14.
- Lucy Afanasewicz of Middletown South won the girls Soph. race by a couple steps in 19:02. Miranda Lorsbach of Kent Place closed very fast to get 2nd in 19:03. Lorsbach should be a major contender at the Union County Championships.
- Mendham goes 2-3-4-5-18 to win the girls Soph. title. Mendham averaged 19:48.
- Jackson Barna of Ridge wins the boys Soph. Division title in 16:08 to lead his team to victory. Big Greystone PR for Barna, who also scored a big win at the Roxbury Invit. two weeks ago.
- Rising star Reese Fahys of Middletown South captured the freshman girls race in 12:20.6 over the 3,200-meter course. Fahys also won the freshman race at the Battle at Ocean County Park last week!
- Middletown South won the girls freshman team title, 34-90 over Summit. Middletown South went 1-3-6-7-17 and averaged 13:21.0!!! FYI-The freshmen races are the only races that score five runners.
- Roman Citro of High Point won the boys freshman race in 11:19.
- North Hunterdon captured the boys freshman team title, 68-91. North Hunterdon went 2-7-9-12-38 and averaged 12:06 over the 3,200-meter course.